Meet our truly genuine, gregarious, generous and gifted Event Coordinator— one and only—Karen! With a smile so infectious that lights up any room and never fades, she draws people to her like a magnet. And, it goes without saying that every child in the LLI program knows and adores her.
Heck, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that everyone in Huaycan, from nearly every moto driver, to the security guards in front of the banks, to every child cobradore (bus conductor) knows her. That’s a whole lot of fandom.
But, there’s also a mortal enemy that lurks in the shadows outside the volunteer house and waits for her to turn up; the infamous black neighborhood cat. We all have heard of ‘that one night’ when, Karen swears, how the cat had made a “ninja-like” jump on her, but honestly Karen’s leaping abilities aren’t less astonishing either :)
Jessie says and we agree, “Karen is one of those people that can simultaneously pull off being completely beautiful, fashionable, smart, warm, inviting and professional all at the same time.” And, that’s what we imagine living with Beyonce would be like :)
An incredible multi-tasker, she has planned, organized and managed soccer tournaments, chess tournaments, art workshops, dance workshops, theatre & puppetry workshops and movie days for the LLI. She loves field trips and special events, especially chess tournaments. “I’ve never really played chess until coming to Huaycán,” she confesses, “but now I secretly root for my favorite kids when we run the chess tournaments.”
Karen finds hanging out with kids on field trips as pretty riveting. Even the mention of the word ‘Kids’ makes her bounce like a ball of excitement. According to Nick and Samantha, her pure joy and happiness when she is around the kids is incredible and inspiring. Samantha adds, “Whenever we’re in Los Alamos and Karen sees the younger kids, she has this high pitch excitement scream, that she’s entirely oblivious to”. It is a precious sight.
On a lighter note, Karen is one fine ball of energy that constantly beams with brio, except when she is woken up early by the construction next door. Definitely not a morning person. When this happens, she isn’t afraid to go up to the roof and yell down at the workers to keep it down, and here is the incredible part, they actually comply…happily. Anyone else pulling this stunt would put off the over-worked under-paid construction crew, but Karen, even grumpy and wrapped in her blanket yelling down from the roof top can peacefully restore the peace of the volunteer house any day.
A major in Sociology and Spanish, she desires to work in international development and to travel all over Southeast Asia. We wish you all the very best and hope to see you again, Karen! It’ll be so hard to say goodbye. We’ve watched you fall in love with the kids, the program, and Huaycan itself—It has truly been amazing to watch and be a part of!
It’s no surprise that every single house mate has something to say for Karen, and here it is:
Karen – you are one of the most inspirational and beautiful people i’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, and even if I could express that in the multitude of languages that you speak, it wouldn’t be close to what you deserve. This world is privileged to have you among it’s citizens, and this individual is privileged for having spent time in your company. I sincerely hope that our paths cross again :-)
To Karen- a kind and free spirited friend! I will miss your contagious laughter and high energy in the house. I hope you enjoy your future travels throughout Asia with your sister. I wish you the best of luck on your next journey in life where you can spread your love and dedication in another part of the world. Know that you have touched so many in the city of Huaycan including myself. I hope to visit Asia one day so I’m expecting you to be my personal tour guide!
Some of my fondest memories of Karen are watching the world cup together. Being deafened in one ear by her involuntary shrill shriek, fearing for my safety when Korea went down 4-2 to Algeria, but most memorably celebrating the wins. Also late night burgers at Carmen’s. Karen, no words will accurately convey my love for you as a friend, but every moment is improved by yr presence and even when I am outwardly grumpy, your energy brings me inner happiness.
Although I have only lived with her for 2 weeks I can say that her love for asparagus is something I have noticed. If she asks someone to pick up asparagus for her they will do whatever it takes and explore every option until asparagus is brought home to her! Ever wonder why the kitchen is so smokey?? Well, it is probably because Karen just made asparagus :)
Karen, I’m so glad that I got to be a part of LLI with you; my time spent in Huaycan would not have been the same without you. I have had such an incredible time with you, and appreciate everything you have done to make this an unforgettable experience. Thank you so much for showing me around Huaycan and all over Lima for that matter! I will never forget it. Not only did you show me around these parts of Peru, but teaching with you in Los Alamos has also been an absolute pleasure, and one of the reasons why it is my favourite class to be a part of. To sum up our time together, I’d say it has been a blast indulging in the culture with you – from trying new drinks and foods, and to encountering that crazy woman in Los Alamos. There has been no shortage of laughter or adventure. You’re such an amazing person, and it has really been a pleasure getting to know you. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch!
Karen, you have no idea how much we are all going to miss you! The house will not be the same without your giggle and loving presence.
For the two weeks I have been at LLI, I have come to know Karen as a very kind and diligent person. She makes sure that there is decorum at the house and ensures that volunteers are having a nice living experience. She was also very kind in accompanying new volunteers to major attractions in Lima city. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Thank you Karen for all of your help in helping me getting settled into LLI. You are extremely patient and caring individual and I will miss you.
Karen will be missed by volunteers and students alike. She has done her position as Volunteer Coordinator with such ease, making everyone feel comfortable in our program. And as Event Coordinator with the kids–she has shown such dedication to making sure they enjoy every event. The 5th Anniversary exceeded my expectations and that was all thanks to Karen. I know the Korean Culture Day with the kids will have a special place in her heart.
We’ll miss you, Karen!