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Centre for Stories

Meet the Intern – Karen Escobar

"In 2012, I officially became an Australian citizen and that whole ceremonious process is one of the most memorable and coolest things I've experienced."

December 20, 2018

We consider ourselves lucky for having the pleasure of collaborating and working alongside such talented and dynamic interns at the Centre for Stories. Over the course of 2018, a number of interns made their mark at the Centre in some way—so let’s celebrate them!

This is Karen Escobar. Karen is an ambitious and hardworking jack-of-all-trades. We can always count on her to step in to any situation at the Centre for Stories with confidence and poise. When she’s not quietly achieving, Karen is binging Netflix series, volunteering at various organisations, or working on her blog. This powerhouse is going places people!


Tell the readers about yourself.

Hi there! My name is Karen Escobar. I am originally from Colombia, but have lived in Australia (among other places) for the majority of my life. In 2012, I officially became an Australian citizen and that whole ceremonious process is one of the most memorable and coolest things I’ve experienced. I graduated high school in 2015 and pretty much went straight into uni knowing exactly what I wanted to do. Currently I am completing a 5-year double degree at Notre Dame – doing a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts – which a lot of people say is an interesting combo, but honestly is actually quite popular, so not so unique. I love anything creative, anything that requires me to think and anything that gives me the opportunity to be in the sun. I am a coffee and lists addict and love to binge watch Netflix documentaries.

In your time interning at the Centre for Stories you collected a series of stories called, Australian and more. Tell us about the series and what inspired you to collect these stories.

‘Australian and more’ is a miniseries which explores the dissonance of an individual straddling two cultures in our current socio-political atmosphere. I interviewed a number of individuals, all from different backgrounds, with an aim to bring into conversation the internal and external struggles of being ‘alien’ in the Australian community. The idea for collection sprouted from my own experience as a foreigner and my curiosity as to how other people, with different backgrounds to me, dealt with the same or similar situation. I feel it is a theme which aligned well with what the Centre stands for, so I went for it.

You’ve been involved in many PEN events here at the Centre. Can you tell us how you got involved and why you’re passionate about PEN Perth?

I had to complete a university assignment and ended up meeting up with Caroline (Co-founder and Director of the Centre) for an interview after my first source fell through. Something about our conversation must have clicked and next minute I am being offered a nomination to be on the committee, which I excitedly accepted. I honestly hadn’t heard of PEN prior to, but after doing some research I quickly realised that it was just what I had been looking for. It is an organisation that exists at the cross-roads of my two degrees. It is a literary/arts focused organisation that deals with legal and political issues: defends responsible freedom of speech and the free press, celebrates the role of literature, advocates for imprisoned writers and promotes the linguistic rights of minorities – I mean what is there not to be passionate about! There is a lot of work to be done in this field to get the world up to standard. I am a strong believer that for the betterment of any society, we need for individuals to have a voice and to be heard.

What was the highlight of interning at the Centre for Stories?

I got really lucky and during my interning period as the Centre was the host organisation of the Australian Short Story Festival. I am just being introduced to the writing and literary community in Perth, thanks to the Centre, and having this festival on while I was interning was honestly the cherry on top. I got the opportunity to see the backstage of writer’s festival and what the finished product looks like. I had the opportunity to volunteer, meet heaps of people, listen in on insightful conversations and most importantly learn and accumulate knowledge from a variety of sources that are sure to come in use further in my career journey. The Centre for Stories really ensures that anyone who interns is given the opportunity to learn as much as possible.

We love a good story. Tell us a short story about a time when you encountered something remarkable.

Some years after acclimatising to western culture, my family adopted the concept of camping. We decided to embark on a road-trip to cross the Nullarbor, Perth to Sydney. During the journey we ate lots of chips in the car, played a lot of ‘eye-spy’, watched loads of movies, had to make emergency toilet stops and experienced the pleasure of having a caravan tire explode due to the heat. On the way back from exploring Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, we stopped at a lonely petrol station on the longest straight road on earth, in middle-of-nowhere-Australia. It was about 8pm pitch black, no moon and the sky—the sky was outstanding. I have been fascinated by astronomy since watching the remake of Cosmos and getting to see the outback Australian night sky was something that fuelled the intrigue. Nothing has quite compared since.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I am going to finish my degree, volunteer at as many law centres as possible and keep publishing stories that are of interest to me on my blog. Currently my big pet project however is a miniseries called Black Tape which I hope will culminate in the inception of an initiative/support group for victims of sexual violence. The miniseries will have stories from survivors, alongside comments from counsellors, organisations, advocates, etc. Stuff is definitely in the works.

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