Tamar Hanna Kaplan

Bolivia – Claremont McKenna College/IES program
June 25, 1992 – January 7, 2013

Tamar was seriously injured in a car crash of a tour vehicle she was in. She died on Jan. 7, 2013, three days before she was due to get back home.

Tamar lived beyond her years, absorbing wisdom, acquiring knowledge, and experiencing the world.  She was entrepreneurial at an early age: selling pom-pom creatures, jewelry, and just enough lemonade to go to Target to buy Polly Pockets. Tamar’s pragmatic nature carried through to her games.  Her friends wanted to be princesses and animals; she wanted to have a job.  Tamar always had a book with her. She read on car rides, in school, while walking and curled for hours by the heating vent.  She enjoyed writing journals, poetry, and personal reflections.  A connoisseur of gourmet cuisine and off-brand junk food, Tamar enjoyed a bid salad as much as she enjoyed Mallow Magic popcorn.  She loved trying exotic foods. With her family, Tamar had lived in Canada, France, England, Australia and the United States.

After brief forays into volleyball and drama in middle school, she caught the debate bug in ninth grade.  Tamar was an exceptional debater, from her novice year until she finished as state champion during her senior year.  Despite being a fierce competitor, she is remembered for her laughter, playfulness, kindness, and willingness to mentor others.  Her summers were always full: French language immersion, debate camps, internships at Chrysalis and then at Advocates for Human Rights.  At Claremont McKenna College she was engaged in a variety of activities.  Her work with SOURCE (a student-run consulting organization for local non-profits) took her from employee to manager.  Tamar was a loyal friend, and a loving sister to Liat and Netta.

In August 2012, Tamar left for a semester abroad with IES to Quito, Ecuador, with the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish, her third language.  In the few months she was there, she climbed trees, scaled mountains, swam rivers, rode horses, jumped off bridges, rappelled down canyons, zip-lined through the cloud forest, and snorkeled in the Galapagos. Tamar was determined to learn about, and experience as much of the world as she could.

Tamar died in Bolivia from injuries in a fatal car crash during gap weeks after her program. Medical airlift evacuation was not possible because of elevation, remoteness and nonexistent emergency services. It is important to read the fine print on insurance and program contracts.  In her case, Tamar’s death warranted only $5,000.

ClearCause honors and remembers our best and brightest who died full of their future on the opportunity of a lifetime. Our condolences to her family.