Remembering Lexie Kamerman

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 2.49.16 PM   “dedicated life to serving others” “remembered as courageous” “recalled as driven, generous” “‘sought a better world’” Above are some of the phrases local news reports have used to remember Lexie Kamerman, a graduate of the Latin class of 2004, who was killed January 17th in a Taliban attack on a Kabul café. They are phrases that convey such meaning, such purpose and import and honor; they are phrases that hurt in past tense. Many of the reports and statements commemorating Lexie have stressed the values she embodied: the Latin values of kindness, manners, and civility, the Martin Luther King values of service to others. It’s not a coincidence that people look to these statements of values when they wish to talk about Lexie—she attained them, even surpassed them. When Latin brought down the portrait of Lexie—drawn by a classmate who accompanied her on Latin’s first Latin in Rome trip—from the fourth floor to Gallery 2, Ms. Dorer said “my first reaction, though this may have been because I knew her personally, was that it was a portrait of kindness.” That kindness, she says, was evident at a young age. As a high schooler, Lexie was dedicated to service. She spent 15 hours a week teaching arts to kindergartners and helping with gym activities in the lower school. As a student at Knox College, Lexie went down to New Orleans following the Hurricane Katrina disaster to help victims rebuild. Ms. Dorer adds that “What I think was special was that, to Lexie, service what not just about what she could give. It was also about the reciprocity. She wouldn’t just walk in and say what can I do for you, she would walk in and say what can I do with you.” As a student, Lexie exhibited the same interpersonal awareness and ease. Ms. Dorer, who first became acquainted with Lexie her sophomore year, says “Lexie could make the group dynamics work—work not just by taking something over, but by eliciting the best in all of the people that were part of her team.” Using the same skills in Water Polo, Lexie was selected three-times in the Illinois All-Conference and led her team to become one of the top 20 teams in the state between 2001 and 2004. As a senior, she earned MVP and All-State, bringing her team to a second place finish in the state sectional tournament. After college graduation, Lexie served as the director of the collegiate Water Polo Association’s membership and later worked for a year at Elon University. Last June, she moved to Afghanistan to work as a student development specialist at American University. While Ms. Dorer hadn’t heard that Lexie was working in Afghanistan, she said, having seen her thriving in a foreign environment, it came as no surprise. Traveling together on the Latin in Rome trip, Ms. Dorer discovered Lexie’s real curiosity for classical culture. The two of them, by themselves, went to the Catacombs to explore this interest—when no tours were available in English, Lexie showed no discomfort at tacking on to a German tour, completely at ease with having Ms. Dorer translate as much as she could without being disruptive. “Experiencing and being part of a global community was a logical outgrowth of her ability to take in different environments” Ms. Dorer said. In discussing her daughter’s move to Afghanistan, Lexie’s mother added that “Lexie was willing to go to the ends of the Earth to make others’ lives better.” In Afghanistan, Lexie worked to help women gain access to education. The Taliban, of course, has used terror to assault this and other kinds of service, and attacked the café that day because it was frequented by westerners. The events have been a tragic, personal reminder of the war and the nation-building in Afghanistan, and has certainly brought the troubles in the region home. Lexie was among 21 people killed, 2 of whom were Americans. It was the deadliest attack on foreigners since the Taliban were ousted in late 2001. White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement about the attack, saying “There is no possible justification for this attack, which has killed innocent civilians, including Americans, working every day to help the Afghan people achieve a better future with higher education and economic assistance.” To those who might be discouraged from service in volatile regions after attacks like these, Ms. Dorer reminds us that “Without minimizing that there were risks entailed […] We need to remind ourselves that we inherently underestimate the risks around us, and that responding to needs in places that seem more high-risk also has extraordinary benefits and is important to be able to do.” Mr. Dunn, in an e-mail to parents, stressed the importance of Lexie’s work and of her values: “We all want our own children to grow up and do great things. We want them to live, like Lexie, in service to others.” While Mr. Dunn, news organizations, and the alumni office have released their own statements commemorating Lexie’s life, The Forum thought it was important to talk directly to the community in a context that would enable us to discuss Lexie and the events that happened. Please use the comments to share your thoughts.        ]]>