Changemaker of the Week: Karen Wanamarta ’17

May 1, 2014

Karen Wanamarta ’17 has quickly gotten involved at the Swearer Center as a first-year student. She is a BRYTE Coordinator and has recently started a new venture using BRYTE’s model of one-on-one refugee tutoring in her hometown in Indonesia.

Q: What venture are you currently working on, and how did it get started?
A: After volunteering with BRYTE during the fall semester, I thought “Why not bring the same love and support Brown students bring to the refugee community here in Providence back home?” When I went back to Indonesia over winter break, I created EYRI (Educating Youth Refugees in Indonesia) with my brother Kenneth Wanamarta.

Q: What does EYRI do?
A: EYRI is an organization that mentors and supports refugee and underprivileged youth in Indonesia by connecting them with passionate and skilled student-mentors from high schools in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced since starting your venture?
A: I think the biggest barrier to starting and developing EYRI was the lack of infrastructure and resources in Indonesia. We had to come up with creative ways to reach out to these kids, to make sure they knew about EYRI and what we do as an organization. We work together as a team, bouncing ideas off of one another, coming up with ways to connect to new kids, to potential tutors in high schools, and to new resources.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a “changemaker”?
A: Initiative and commitment is key to whatever you do. When you start something new, you will face opposition and roadblocks, and it’s your initiative and commitment that will keep you going during those times.

Q: What’s one surprising fact people might not know about you?
A: I love Greek mythology!

Thank you to everyone who nominated Changemakers this semester! We’ll see you back in the fall.