70 Stories: Carmen Laforet, Inspired by Kansas City

Discovering Carmen Laforet’s Heartland Experience

Carmen Laforet was always passionate about stories. As one of the most celebrated Spanish novelists of the post-WWII generation, Carmen was a natural fit for the 1965 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a State Department initiative aiming to foster cultural exchange while enduring relationships between emerging foreign talent and their American counterparts. One of the stops of the program was Kansas City.

How Did Kansas City Influence Carmen’s Perspective on Citizen Diplomacy?

Carmen, who achieved acclaim as an author at only 23 for her award-winning novel, “Nada,” eagerly embraced the opportunity to exchange ideas with the American literary scene. 

Organizations are not so abundant in Spain.” – Carmen Laforet

What Impressed Carmen About American Civic Life?

During her time in Kansas City as part of the IVLP facilitated by Global Ties KC, Carmen engaged with organizations such as the Commission on Human Relations and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. She was struck by the abundance of civic and social organizations in the metro area, remarking to the Kansas City Times, “This is interesting to me,” she said, “organizations are not so abundant in Spain.”

What Sparked Carmen’s Curiosity?

But, Carmen’s connection to the home of the Chiefs was also more personal: her daughter, Marta, had previously attended Southwest High School as an exchange student in 1964. Intrigued by her daughter’s experiences in the Heartland, Carmen sought to immerse herself in understanding Marta’s time here.

During her stay in the City of Fountains, Carmen was graciously hosted by the same family who had embraced her daughter the year before. Her visit even sparked a creative flame in Carmen, inspiring her to pen a series of articles titled, “My First Trip to the United States,” where she shared anecdotes of her cultural exchange and life across the Atlantic.

Why Are Personal Connections in Kansas City So Powerful?

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No matter where our journeys take us or the accolades we amass, it is these rich, personal connections — across cultures and generations — that endure.

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