Q&A with Lauren McLemore
What is the World Race?
World Race is originally 11 in 11. Which means 11 countries in 11 months, but you have to be 21 to do it. They were getting a lot of attention from college students, but grad school and life responsibilities were keeping most people from participating.
So they decided to create a type of study abroad program and call it Gap Year, which is what I’m doing. It’s three countries in nine months, the span of a college year.
Why did you decide to take this Gap Year?
I was the typical busybody in high school and I completely exhausted myself. Senior year I gave myself a break by quitting my job and not taking hard classes. I decided that I needed more of a break, so I started thinking about taking a gap year after I graduated.
My friend Libby told me that she was doing this thing called The World Race: Gap Year and that I should look into doing it too. It sounded cool, so I applied without knowing what I was getting myself in to.
What is your route?
My route leaves in October and I’ll be going to Ecuador, India and Zambia. Originally it was Malaysia, India and Zambia, but multiple factors kept us from going to Malaysia…basically it just wasn’t safe for us to be there. But there really aren’t any guarantees, the route could change while I’m on the race.
You just got back from training camp. How was it?
I went to training camp without expectations. We were there for 10 days. The first half of the week was focused on us as people. We had a lot of deep ‘church talks,’ which was really emotional, but good. Their philosophy is that ‘Free people free people.’ If you are going around carrying all this weight, you won’t be able to help anyone else. It was hard and emotionally exhausting, but I could see a physical difference in people and myself afterward. The second half was more logistics, cultural studies and declaring our area of skill.
What is your area of skill?
Childhood ministry with an emphasis in orphanhood.
What are you bringing with you?
The only things I’m bringing with me are my pack, which holds 45 to 50 pounds, and a day pack which I will carry on my front that holds about 25 pounds.
What was your biggest takeaway from training camp?
It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Nobody complains, it just is what it is and you do what you can. I’ve never really experienced true church before – but that is something I noticed about training camp. That was church in all its glory. I grew up in the church and I was used to spending three hours getting ready for a 30-minute sermon. It just didn’t seem real to me – everyone with their fake masks on.
But at training camp, when all you have is 60 pounds, you kind of don’t have a choice but to be real with people. People were very raw and it was cool to see that side of it. Sometimes it was four in the morning and we would have worship because that was our night watch. It was very authentic and very cool.
How did CAC prepare you for the World Race?
Going to CAC was one of the biggest transitions I made. At my old school I was struggling to make friends, I wasn’t connecting with any of my teachers and my class sizes were really big. When I switched over to CAC, it gave me a completely different outlook. I found out that school is definitely more than school. I’ve found that my teachers are mentors as much as they are teachers.
How can we, as the CAC family, help you?
Financial support is definitely appreciated, but having a spiritual base back home is the most important. It’s going to be hard, and I know that.
What advice would you give to high school seniors?
I would encourage people to take a gap year. Everything gets thrown in your face at the end of senior year. People want to know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, and you need time to figure it out. You don’t necessarily need to go on the World Race, but do something and take time. I think taking a gap year is a really healthy idea.
Any last thoughts?
This is a crazy leap of faith. This doesn’t make any sense. But in the grand scheme of things, nothing about the Gospel makes any sense. If it made sense, it wouldn’t require any faith.
To keep up with Lauren’s travels or to donate to her race fund, head on over to her blog.