The Scout who rode his scooter, Impeesa, from Mexico to West Virginia
Our team interviewed John Silva, a Scout from Colombia who embarked on a challenge to ride his scooter across the U.S. to volunteer at the 24th World Scout Jamboree. John shares his journey and his message to young people:
Q: Tell me about yourself and your involvement in Scouting.
A: I’m from Colombia and by profession I’m a photojournalist living between Colombia and Ecuador. I’ve been a Scout for 40 years and participated in many Jamborees in South America. This is my second World Scout Jamboree, where I’m one of the volunteer photographers with the WSJ team. I arrived at West Virginia differently than anyone else, by riding my motor scooter all the way from Mexico.
Q: How long did this take you?
A: Over five weeks. I flew from Colombia to Mexico on 28 May and started riding to West Virginia.
Q: What made you want to take this long journey?
A: I recently rode what is called the “End of the World Circuit” that goes around South America. To ride across the United States and later all the way up to Alaska is a new goal that I set for myself as it is the first time that I will ride in another continent. By doing this I am hoping to be an inspiration for young people to embark on new challenges and journeys.
Q: How do you think this journey will inspire young people?
A: During my travels, the most interesting and inspiring part is the people I meet and the stories they share. Deciding to take this long trip to the World Scout Jamboree, was my way of sharing my story and its challenges with young people. I want this to show them that they too are able to reach their dreams and goals despite the challenges that arise. I encourage young people to challenge themselves to do better and pass their story to inspire others.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced on this ride to West Virginia and how did you deal with it?
A: Highways in the U.S.! I’m technically riding a scooter alongside very big trucks driving at high speeds, which was intimidating. This meant overcoming fear, respecting rules and focusing on my path forward. I tried to find safe side roads at times to both avoid large highways and explore new places.
Q: How would you advise young people to look at challenges?
A: I always say that difficulties are opportunities to gain new experiences and tell new stories. I was traveling across a country that I know very little of its language, yet I achieved my goal.
I want young people to know that all boundaries we set for ourselves can be broken if we set our mind to it. I want them to dream even bigger and lead the way to get there. Decisions must be accompanied by dedicated action and this way goals will be achieved.
Q: How has being a Scout contributed to this passion for exploration?
A: I was a kid who only loved playing in the streets but it was during my first Scout camp that I realized how big the world is when the amount of stars in the sky amazed me. I fell in love with Scouting after that first night at camp because it connected me with a world I didn’t know, and it created a curiosity in me to explore more of this Earth and its people.
Q: Tell me about your scooter, how long have you had it? Does it have its own story?
A: You can meet Impeesa. As you know this was a nickname given to Lord Baden-Powell in Africa, meaning ‘the wolf that never sleeps’. I’ve had Impeesa since 2015 and because it helps me to reach far places in the world, I wanted to relate its name to Scouting.
Before Impeesa I owned Matilda, my first scooter. I sold it in a fundraising auction to raise money for a family in Ecuador who lost their home in the 2016 earthquake.
Q: What’s next for you after the World Scout Jamboree?
A: I will be riding from Mexico to Alaska which is very exciting. My goal is to collect stories of people from the whole of America starting from the very North to the very South for a book that I am writing about my journeys. I want this book to broaden people’s outlooks on life, realize the similarities we all share and inspire people to explore this planet and the amazing people who live on it.