Auren Kaplan ('04)

Auren Kaplan (‘04):  So much has happened since my time with the HRP that I can barely believe that only three years has passed since that wonderful week in DC, with a great group of kids and with a group of survivors that really changed my outlook and opinions regarding human nature, humanitarian interventions, and so much more. I left the program with a new understanding about the world which has evolved considerably since that time, but not without keeping a few messages firmly ingrained in my mind, namely that those who have the means must do all they can to prevent atrocities such as the Holocaust from occurring in modern times.

As for my update, once I graduated high school I landed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of my Wolverines and a university that I have come to love. I was fortunate to get an Evans Scholarship, given to golf caddies around the country, which gave me the opportunity to live in a fantastic house with about forty other caddies and has helped me create some great friendships. As always seems to be the case, I immediately jumped into things (too many things, probably) and I ended up working as an editor for the Michigan Journal of Political Science, as well as running a voter-registration group on campus. I went into school completely sure that I would one day rise to the upper echelons of UM’s College Democrats organization, but I got so involved in those other two activities I barely had time for any partisan politics. For the midterm election this past November I was busy organizing a semester-long, campus-wide voter-registration and get-out-the-vote campaign, and I sure learned about hard work and sleepless nights doing that! And my work with the journal has been great as well; I am now a Senior Editor and am in charge of increasing the number of subscriptions to the journal (let me know if you’re interested!).

But the big highlight of this latest stage of my life has been my experience studying abroad in Santiago, Chile (from where I write to you now). I signed onto the program knowing that as a political science major it would be fascinating to learn about Chile’s tumultuous political history, but it has provided me with so much more, from friendships which will last a lifetime to experiences that have humbled me and opened my eyes to a world most never get to see. The bustling city of Santiago is a modern metropolis, very akin to some of its American counterparts, but in rural parts of the country, both north and south, the changes one sees are drastic. Studying in South America has certainly opened my eyes to our nation’s affluence, as well as showing me how many other, less fortunate people live around the world. But I have also been able to experience the rich tourist opportunities one has when living down here for a time—I have been able to visit many places I had always wanted to see, and this continent is a fantastic place to travel. I have also been studying at a great university here, and my Spanish has never been better!

Life is going very well right now, as I contemplate the end to my trip, my arrival to the United States, a new school year starting in September (so soon?), and a return to relative normalcy. I have some new plans for this year; in addition to working with MJPS I am starting a business with a friend of mine on campus, and who knows what can come of that? And eventually, I am very interested in pursuing a career in law, with a focus on US – Latin American affairs. But no matter what path I choose, I remain grateful for the opportunity of the HRP, the life lessons it has taught me, and the wonderful people that I met as a result.