A Millennial’s international experience
Although growing up in the land of plenty, Millennial Lauren Laskowski doesn’t take the material comforts of American life for granted. From a young age, Lauren has had a toe in the global community, and not through social media sites. Until recently, Lauren was absent virtually – “un-google-able” you might say.
Her soles have touched real foreign soil, and this has impacted her perspective on life.
Snapshots from Cuba
Most recently, Lauren traveled to Cuba with her family over spring break 2013. The experience did not leave Lauren unaffected. Here’s what she had to say:
“I had the opportunity to visit a small village about an hour outside of Havana, the capital city. Our group was the first Americans ever to visit this village. This village was one of the poorest places I’d seen in my life. The people literally had nothing. The house I went into was a three room shack with a kitchen and a bathroom in the backyard. However, even though these people literally had nothing in their town, they had one store and a church. We had the privilege of going to church with these people, and the joy with which they filled that church was inescapable.
It made me think about myself. I am an American with freedom, opportunity, and material blessings. I need to constantly be thanking God for all he has given me!
We were dancing and singing our hearts out during the worship part of the service. Groups came out and formed lines and we were making conga lines and running in and out of the church. It made me think about myself. I am an American with freedom, opportunity, and material blessings. I need to constantly be thanking God for all he has given me!”
Forming a global perspective
Lauren took her first trip out of the United States when she was seven. Along with her mother and older sister, Lauren accompanied her father to Portugal, where he spoke to Portuguese doctors. Lauren’s father is a physician, and he frequently travels outside of the U.S. on business. For Lauren, that meant traveling as a family to various continents throughout her childhood. “I just feel very, very blessed and privileged to have grown up in my family,” Lauren said.
Because her and her sister were homeschooled, the frequent travel did not interrupt their studies, but rather enhanced it.
In addition to Portugal and Cuba, Lauren has been to nine other countries: Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Israel and China.
She has also visited all 50 states.
Several trips Lauren recounted with fondness.
One was a trip to Italy and Paris over this past summer. Paris was somewhere Lauren always wanted to go, and she was able to spend a week in France with her family. But the main reason for the trip was to visit Italy, as Lauren’s mother is 100% Italian. “We got to explore our heritage and our roots and we got to make pasta in Italy … and it made me really proud of my heritage,” Lauren said.
Lauren and her family also accompanied her father to a meeting in Jerusalem in the fall of last year. Seeing the ancient locales impacted Lauren’s faith as a Christian. Lauren explained, “Being in Israel made the Bible come alive for me. To be in the place where Jesus walked and lived made the Bible seem so much more alive.
Being in Israel made the Bible come alive for me … I am a very tactile person, so just to feel the dirt or to be in the Jordan River was amazing.
I am a very tactile person, so just to feel the dirt or to be in the Jordan River was amazing. I remember going to one of the sites that they believe is Jesus’ actual tomb and I felt God’s presence. I remember thinking that because the tomb was empty, and He (Jesus) is not here, I can live forever with Him when I die. The trip as a whole had a big impact on my faith.”
“I think my sense of travel has informed my major in international relations,” Lauren said. “I just have a curiosity about the world.”
As such, she would love to have a job someday that includes travel. Currently, she is considering photo journalism.
“I love photography and journalism, and the concept of being a photojournalist seemed to blend my interests together well,” Lauren said. “I guess you could say my dream would be to become a photojournalist for National Geographic Magazine. That would be amazing.”
Lauren has a focused vision for her photography. Rather than just capturing the stark reality of what’s on the other side of her lens, she looks to impact others through her images.
“Photography, for me, is more than just a depiction of reality, while this is a very important aspect of photography,” Lauren said. “Photography can also be used to lead a viewer on a journey, or help change a viewer’s mind on a certain idea.”
Daily Focus: Spontaneity plus Optimism
Lauren maintains an overall optimistic outlook on life. She said her life motto is “seize the day with joy.”
“I want to live every day to the fullest,” Lauren said. “Even if it’s just a simple day where I’m studying at my university or spending time with my family.”
Life motto: Seize the day with joy
Lauren adds pizazz to the everyday through spontaneity. “I am a very spontaneous person and I love to live life in the moment and take risks. It is part of who I am,” Lauren said. “I have always been like this.”
Lauren releases that energy to others as a member of a college improv troupe. “I am an improviser through and through,” Lauren said. “In improv, one of the biggest skills you can have is to think on your feet, so it’s really helpful to be a spontaneous person.”
In addition to being an outlet for her natural abilities, Lauren finds improv as “the time in the week where I get to forget about my school and all the problems in life and hang out and be silly with some of my closest friends.”
Lauren combines her naturally extemporaneous personality and global perspective to bear in her photography. As an aspiring photojournalist, Lauren wants to “bring stories and pictures and words from around the world to people that may not have opportunities to travel themselves.”
If you were beginning to feel jealous of the places Lauren’s been, here’s a sampling of images to transport you to another land.