Karen Larson '96 Helps Teenagers Through Peace Corps
When Karen Larson entered the Peace Corps and headed to Romania
in October of 2001, she pictured herself living in a small village
without many modern amenities. Such thoughts quickly vanished
upon her arrival, however.
“It was a town of around 40,000 people with restaurants, stores
and Internet cafes,” Larson said. Although she admits to having it
easy in terms of living arrangements, she nonetheless found her
service to be quite challenging.
“I did not expect the pessimistic attitude that I ran across, which
was the most difficult part of living in Romania,” she said. “Rarely
did I find a young person with the ‘can do’ attitude that is so prevalent
in the United States.”
Larson, above left, soon discovered why after learning that students
in Romania must bribe their teachers for an A or a parent must
bribe their doctor in order for his or her child to receive treatment
She also realized that making a positive impact
would require extreme patience on her part and a little creativity.
Teaming up with another Peace Corps volunteer, Larson decided
to use her time and energy to organize a GLOW (Girls Leading
Our World) camp.
Geared toward Romanian teenage women, the
camp focused on leadership and confidence-building. “The big message I brought to the girls was for them to become
activists in their own way,” Larson said.
“I wanted them to become
involved in their community and teach others what they learned at
Looking back at her two years in Romania helping these young
women, Larson said the experience was amazing.
“I really got to be close to, and better understand, the young
ladies who went to the camp. It was incredible to see their confidence
grow,” Larson said.
The experience also proved how “just a small
investment in a young person can have a major impact.”