Interview with Carol Carper Dec 14, 2011
Marcia: I know that you have been active in Rotary for years. Why did you recently decide to join Evergreen Rotary?
Carol: Well, I wanted to be in a club that was very active internationally and Evergreen was recommended to me. I think it will be a good match for me.
Marcia: Have you always been interested in working internationally?
Carol: Ever since I was a young girl and my mother gave me a book about Albert Schweitzer, I have wanted to work in Africa.
Marcia: What was your life like growing up?
Carol: I was born at St Joe’s hospital in Denver. We lived in east Denver…my parents and me, my older brother and younger sister. My Dad was a teacher and swim coach at George Washington High School in Denver., where I went to school. I was an avid swimmer myself, about 100 laps a day. Dad was a scout master. I was active in girl scouts. Dad was active in church..Episcopal Anglican…I sang in the choir. My Mom was the intellect. They were very different, but both had a strong sense of ethics of service. I was in AP classes, but I knew the fine line between a “C” and a ”D”. My Great Grandmother always said “Work is God’s gift” and “If you are born into the world with advantages, you have a responsibility to help those with less”. I have explored different religions, myself, and find I am most aligned with Buddhism.
Some of my fondest childhood memories were camping with my Dad and sister…canoeing and sailing. We had a sailboat on Sloane’s lake.
Marcia: What about college?
Carol: I went to CU in 1961. I was told to get a teaching certificate and it was understood that I would find a husband there too. And I did both! Just before I graduated, my current boyfriend introduced me to Bob, who did become my husband. He had been an exchange student in Italy and was into oil painting. He is now a retired architect and we live in Conifer. He has COPD and is confined to home a lot, where he is currently writing his memoirs.
Carol: Yes, we had a daughter . Sadly, she died thirteen years ago at age 30 with breast cancer. But she was an adventurer. She did a lot of backpacking with her dad. At age 18, she went to Nepal as an EMT. She hiked five days to get to a village where they treated 5000 people. Our family had a history of pulling together in adversity which is what happened with her final illness. The dying was full of love and caring. She continues to be MY inspiration to do the things I do. If she could do such things, then I can too! Bob retired so that he could help her when she was sick. Her last six months were good. We all took a trip to Peru and the Galapagos Islands .
Marcia: So how did you eventually get to Africa?
Carol: I went on a safari trip to Tanzania. I just loved it there and asked if I could stay and help at the school. And I did stay….for six weeks! Later, I connected with Rotarians working in Kenya. I looked at wells with Don Howard. I met a Kenyan doctor in Colorado and was invited to go to a medical camp in Kenya twice. I saw a lot of broken water systems then. I was put in touch with a Kenyan, George Oyeho, who was a Rotarian in Minnesota and he had gotten his club to build schools in Kenya and also a clinic. I’ve been working with George on his projects ever since. Next month, I’m helping to lead a Rotary trip to Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. It will be my tenth trip to Africa. Last year I took a group of Interactors there to build a bridge. In Kenya we are developing a leadership program for the locals.
Marcia: So, do you have other passions?
Carol: Well, my passion is education…and people….and reading.
I love to read and discuss books. I read a lot about current events and foreign affairs. When we moved to the mountains, it took me some getting used to. Bob built me a lovely ceramics studio but I found myself going to the grocery store a lot just to be around people! I am such an extrovert!
I find I love to start new things. I have started two successful schools and twice I started Head Start programs. I was the first director of the Mountain Resource Center in Conifer. At Red Rocks Community College, I directed a program for early childhood development which is now a model of quality care and education. I love working with low income populations. I would say I am just extremely interested in cultures of all kinds. I even enjoy ringing the Salvation Army bell so that I can observe the folks coming and going.
Marcia: If you were to describe yourself as a pair of shoes, what would they be like?
Carol: Ah…they would be mostly comfortable….but my toenails would be painted blue. I do have a playful side!
Marcia: Any words of wisdom?
Carol: Find a passion, find other people who are also interested in the same passion and give it your all.