Karen Bortvedt

Year Joined MKLM: 2013
Country: Cambodia
City: Phnom Penh
Focus: Developing communications strategies
Project: Deaf Development Programme
People Served: Deaf Community who attend the Deaf Development Programme

Personal Data:

Karen is one of five children and is from Hillsboro, OR. She has a BA in Political Science and Spanish from University of Portland. Karen coordinated various immersion trips while in college – including one to Nicaragua. She served with the Border Servant Corps for one year and has since worked with various non-profit organizations. She enjoys baking, running, biking and cooking. When asked about her decision to join Maryknoll Lay Missioners she told us:

I was originally introduced to Maryknoll Lay Missioners eight years ago and it has been on my radar ever since. Throughout my life experiences, a few components stuck out as key to living the life I hoped to lead.

1) Living a simple life of service. I enjoy living in solidarity with those around me and keeping wants versus needs clear in my day to day life. I also enjoy a sense of purpose contributing to something larger than my own small reality with the skills I have acquired along life’s path.

2) I have a passion for travel, international experiences, and cross-cultural exchange. I believe strongly in the growth that comes from the challenge and joy of adapting to a new culture and learning a different perspective on life. The concept of Ubuntu – I am because you are – is a guiding principle for me and the best way to really experience that is to step outside my comfortable reality into another’s.

3) I truly believe we were all placed on this earth to care for one another, creation, and strive for my life to be an example of such to all those I encounter.

Maryknoll Lay Missioners offers a supported way for me to fulfill these aspirations.


Karen worked at the Deaf Development Programme as the Communication Coordinator. On any given day, she was found developing the communications strategy; documenting DDP’s many activities through photos and videos; visiting the provinces to document the field work of DDP; ‘playing Facebook’ as they say in Cambodia to share DDP’s work; writing blogs; creating mini-videos about the Deaf community; welcoming visitors; or coordinating volunteers.

You can check out more of Karen’s work by liking the DDP Facebook page, following them on Twitter, or reading the weekly blog updates.