by Izzy Cohan, staff writer
“Carlos you can’t leave,” exclaims everyone who steps into the room. Fruit over kale and Taylor Swift playing one of Carlos’s favorite songs. Throughout the afternoon staff, students and the incidental puppy come in to wish Carlos well on his journey.
Due to issues with an expiring visa, Carlos Lara Lopez has been forced to step down from his dynastic throne at Warren Wilson College. His tenure at the college has been full of smiles, hugs and love for everyone that falls into his path. He has spent six years here as a student and a staff member. He has worked on 17 different crews, and he has made an impression on all of us.
Throughout his time here Carlos has learned how to be a true charismatic figure on the very soil he used to feel animosity for.
“I came to the US not wanting to move to the US, so coming to Wilson was actually my choice,” Carlos said.
When Carlos left Guatemala he was 19 years old and already had a few years of university under his belt. In Guatemala, Carlos had been studying Computer Engineering, but when he came to the United States he was impressed with the academic options offered.
“I was like ‘YOU COULD DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!’ and I mean I love computers and I love doing that as a hobby, but I was like no, ‘I love people’—people, people, people,” he said. “Then I came here and I was like ‘you can take classes to have fun and be with people! YEAH sign me up! I met with Ed [Raiola, Outdoor Leadership professor] that day and he was like ‘yeah this is what you can do’ and my eyes were just like ‘WOW! YES!’”
From birth he has had a fixation on people, the very allure that we’ve cherished for the last six years oozed out of his crib as a child. His ability to connect with people makes him seem like an awesome big brother, mother and best friend all wrapped into one.
Carlos’s love for people has propelled him through the college’s Outdoor Leadership major. The same excitement he had in his voice when he first met with Raiola is still evident six years later, while he talks about starting a Wilderness Therapy program in his hometown of Antigua, Guatemala.
If Carlos can find an employer that finds him invaluable they can help him get a new visa. Currently he is on a 60 day grace period designed to help people in his situation find work. According to his sister, Ana Lara Lopez, Carlos wants to stay in the States so that he can make contacts with Wilderness Therapy programs here that would be interested in helping start a branch in Guatemala.
After these 60 days expire if Carlos does not have work he will be asked to leave the country. When asked about his plans only optimism can be detected in his voice.
“Things will work out,” he assures himself.
“Familial connection is extremely important [in Guatemala],” Ana said.
The importance of family paired with Carlos’s general love for people has guided him to adopt the Warren Wilson community as his family—and we couldn’t be happier.