By Jillian Sims, Marketing and Operations Manager

President of Greenheart International, Emanuel Kuntzelman, was recently asked to describe his mentor and friend, Agustin Prado. Taking a thoughtful pause, he replied, “When the universe created Agustin, they threw away the mold. He was just a sincere, honest gentleman… an extraordinary human being and I’m not sure this organization would have been around without him.”

To know anything about Agustin, it seems, is to learn about an individual with an incredible personal history that touched the lives of so many in an indelible way. From his emigration from Cuba during tumultuous times to his work in Spain with exchange students (whereby he met a young Emanuel and took him under his wing), and through to his many life ventures, there is an unmistakable thru-line in his story – his outstanding character. “Agustin was a gentleman of the highest standards, constantly giving the best of himself with no expectations for anything in return. He was known and respected for his smile and good mood, even in the most stressful situations.” Perhaps it was the depth and variety of life experience that made him such a natural in the exchange world. “He was totally committed to cultural exchange” Emanuel says. “It was because of the hardships he lived through, his knowledge of cultures, languages, etc., that he deeply valued what these experiences could bring to people. He believed in peace and that the more traveled you were, the more peace could be achieved.”

It seemed a natural response then, when the world lost Agustin to cancer in 2004, that his memory be honored by a scholarship allowing economically deserving and extraordinary students the life-changing opportunity of a high school academic exchange opportunity through the Agustin Prado Scholarship. Now, more than ten students’ lives have been transformed through their exchange experience since the first scholarship was awarded in 2005 to a Spanish student, Ruben Sanchez. At the time of his exchange, Ruben, grateful for the opportunity he would not otherwise have had, wanted only “that everyone I met have good memories of me.” In 2016, the current scholarship recipient, Aran, is having an unforgettable year and says of the opportunity, “From the first day, it has been an experience that I will never forget.”

The Agustin Prado scholarship has ignited change and cultural understanding in its participants for over ten years, and we hope that it will continue to do so through funding from Greenheart International and those who believe passionately in the value of cultural exchange in shaping tomorrow’s leaders, as Agustin did in his life.