"You are amazing!"
How did she react?
"Aww, thank you, Rosa!"
After reading this text she said,
"To repeat Macklemore's words: This is fucking awesome, girl, honestly, thank you. This is beyond. My hands went all cold while reading!", and suggested for me to put that statement here.
How did I feel?
How is it that some of the greatest people depreciate their light?
Especially the young ones. Belittling themselves while they are in the midst of charming your pants off. Telling you they are shy speaking in front of a crowd when all you ever get from them is ideas wittier than your favorite TED speech. Whispering, “I am so clumsy”, when they have just danced their way down the stairs without even making a sound. Karen is one of those people. I don’t know anyone more humble than her. At the same time I don’t know a single person bursting with talents, beauty and love the way this señorita is.
I met Karen two months ago. A rainy November day, in front of the JFK. I had just arrived and was about to go inside. Next to me stood a short lady, speaking with an accent I could not locate. Though I was in the dark about where she was from I felt one thing straight away: She was a light bulb. Radiating with energy her words came quick and sounded like the happiest bebop scat you can imagine.
Not long after that we made friends over Spanish exam emergencies (Karen is a native speaker, I was lost in grammatical confusion), lectures on Ferguson that lead to us discussing vividly in the UBahn, and spontaneous celebration about this project kicking off.
Karen is the kind of person you can ask; “What do you hate?” and get a list full of winks in return that includes zippers (because she’s got a history of pain working those) or key holes that don’t open while she is super hungry. She is an active modeling United Nations participant, hands in her essays in folders (while mine come as a wild pile of notes) and organizes school Christmas parties. In fact, organizing is one of her favorite activities. But Karen is no eager beaver. She is just a great student who, on top of it all, lives her passions. She takes time to draw every day: For more than a year Karen sketched one word per day. That’s right, one word. I dig this idea. And it is not her only one: That same year she sketched her outfit day by day. Karen says, “I am fascinated by everyday things. The seemingly meaningless. They captivate me.” I have not seen her paintings yet but the mere fact that she went through with such a project leaves me impressed. Drawing is not her only passion. She always carries a book around, and when she talks about The Great Gatsby her eyes light up like Times Square on New Years Eve. She writes, too. In her three languages: German, Spanish and English. Karen is an American-Guatemalan-German mix. A true global citizen. Though quite impressive it is not her passport collection making her that, it is her attitude. She transcends cultural shortsightedness and empathizes with everyone. Karen’s eyes are open, it’s like she constantly nods with them while listening. Her smart comments and sharp jokes prove she is not naive but personified emotional intelligence. This is what it all comes down to: I admire Karen for her countless talents, but I like her for the person she is. A few years younger than me her statements remind of my 30-year-old friends. Her giggle on the other hand sounds like a teenager who watches porn for the first time. We share that- And I hope it will never change.
She drives friends to the airport, rocks at a presentation, pulls an allnighter and wears the broadest smile around school in only a few hours. Honestly the thought of that level of engagement scares me a little. But then I see her face when she tells me about it and I know: She wanted to do all of it. She had fun. Yesterday I told a friend about her and said, "Karen is like the sun. After meeting her I always feel warm and full of light." I am glad there is her- and I hope she won't stop embodying greatness.
Thank you, Karen, for being here. Rock on!