Lauren Menke

Dominican Republic Leader

1. What inspired you to join VISIONS?

I always wanted to do a program like VISIONS as a teen, but never had the chance to (thanks, COVID-19!). I love VISIONS long-term connections in the communities they are based in and the commitment to sustainable service. This, along with wanting to help others discover the joys of learning languages and traveling, inspired me to join VISIONS.

2. What experiences have shaped your passion for community service and youth development?

My first experience with community service happened just down the street from my house when I helped with preparing and serving weekly community meals. Before this experience, I was unaware of how many people in my community were food insecure. I also learned early on that serving others is one of the most rewarding ways to spend time. Since then, I have volunteered at food pantries, soup kitchens, hospitals, etc. Regardless of where I serve, I always leave with a better understanding of the community. While working as a residential assistant in the freshman dormitories while I was in college, I enjoyed getting to utilize my experience to guide others. This summer, I hope to guide others as they make these same discoveries through service.

3. What is your favorite achievement?

Fun fact: When I was a kid, I won a chicken-themed pageant at my hometown’s annual festival. (We are a small farming community and celebrate each year with a chicken-themed festival.) It is the only pageant I have ever participated in, but the dress my grandma sewed for me, complete with two chicken finger puppets sewn onto the front, was what won over the judges.

4. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled?

My favorite place I’ve traveled to is San Fruttuoso in Liguria, Italy. Getting to the secluded beach required hiking over a mountain from a nearby town. The hike had gorgeous vista views of the ocean and was well worth the climb to enjoy the solitary beach.

5. What is the best advice you’ve received?

“It’s not about winning the race; it’s about helping others along the way.” I believe I heard this one year during the annual broadcasting of the Ironman World Championships, and it has really stuck with me.

6. What do you hope to accomplish this summer?

This summer, I hope we learn to work together in a way that makes the most of everyone’s skills!

7. What are you most excited about this summer?

I am most excited about getting to know the community in Cotui, the VISIONS staff and partners, and, of course, all of the participants who will each bring a unique perspective.

8. If you had to give one piece of advice or words of encouragement to someone on their first VISIONS experience, what would it be?

Come with an open mind! Don’t try to classify experiences as the same/different or better/worse compared to what you are familiar with. Instead, soak up every minute of your time because that is how you learn the most!

Meet the rest of our team!

Recent Blog Posts

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VISIONS is PVSA Certified!

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