During the COVID-19 pandemic, alumnus Lisa Lentz Maldonado ‘85 is quarantined in Kenya, where she works as an Editor for the United Nations Office at Nairobi, the UN headquarters in Africa. Lisa’s work involves editing, translation and writing reports for UN meetings. When I spoke with Lisa last, the UN had no plans to evacuate staff, but Lisa is in a safe place and is teleworking in isolation.
Lisa, her sister Tanya and brother Timothy all attended Rosseau Lake College in 1984/85. This was one year after RLC changed from an all-male boarding school to a co-ed school. Although outnumbered and sometimes intimidated with a 1:10 ratio, Lisa recalls her year at RLC as an incredible learning experience. She has fond memories of cross-country runs through the woods, skiing with Mr. Fraser and even participating in a race (placing dead last); and of Mr. Balena’s art class and Mr. Cole’s 3-minute speed-writing challenges, a brutal situation of rivalry in which she proved that vegetarians can write fast too (Hello, Henry Birtles!). The fabulous outtrip up the Magnetawan and into Georgian Bay that launched the year, those rum balls in the dining hall (the food was a little too amazing in there!), and kayaking adventures will never be forgotten. Lisa still enjoys lasting friendships forged during her time at Rosseau. Over 30 years later, Lisa now feels safe telling you that she was on a team of girls who, one dark night, decked the dining hall with TP, put B-Bob’s canoe in the rafters and stacked up a whole lot of drinking glasses in a midnight adventure. Somehow, everyone else was the target of suspicion!
After Lisa’s time at RLC, she completed the French baccalaureate at a Lycée in Guatemala City, where her family had settled, and then went on to study French literature at the Sorbonne. In 1990, she began her career in Guatemala running a small coffee export business with her former husband, whose family owned an organic coffee farm near Lake Atitlan. Lisa’s four children were born in Guatemala. After ten years, she returned to Canada in 2000, went on to teach French and Spanish at a community college in Guelph and then completed a B.A. at the University of Guelph, where she taught Spanish as a teaching assistant and held an impressive six research assistantships during her undergrad. Less than a year after graduating, Lisa launched a freelance translation business as a full-time translator and community interpreter that quickly became very successful. In 2014, Lisa became a Certified Translator for Spanish to English; in 2015, Lisa succeeded in the United Nations Language Competitive Exam; and in 2016, she became a Certified Translator for French to English. Lisa worked at UNHQ in New York City on temporary contract as a translator and précis-writer in 2016, 2017 and 2018 before joining the UN full-time in Nairobi in January 2019.
Lisa is divorced and remarried to David de Weerdt, with five adult children in her blended family now, and even a granddaughter! David is now leading the global expansion of the work of the Open Source Medical Supplies group, and the kids are variously working from home, breathing a sigh of relief to have finished their university year by distance learning, continuing to make guitars, and hoping that things will reopen soon so they can get back to work. The whole family is anxiously awaiting the reopening of the borders of Kenya and Canada, and in the meantime, happy to be contributing to flattening the curve. Alumni, get in touch if you want to visit Kenya after things calm down. Lisa has really enjoyed cycling through the tea plantations and national parks of Kenya and would be delighted to join you on a bicycle safari!