Coming Out in Malawi by Lucas Turner

In June 2015, I led a 9 day buildOn Trek of 15 high school students from Boston, to the Ngoleka Village in Malawi, to collaboratively build a primary school. We spent our time in the village physically constructing the school, engaging in immersive cultural activities and spending countless hours bonding with our host families. This Trek was truly one of the most incredible times of my life!

The biggest highlight of a buildOn Trek is living in the homes of the community members, which instantly creates the strongest sense of community and family amongst everyone. Regardless of speaking different languages and coming from completely different cultures, with different customs, beliefs and ideals, everyone becomes extremely close because of the solidarity and teamwork that goes into building a school. Everyone chips in, everyone is invested and everyone is empowered. 

Due to that strong sense of community and love, when I was blatantly asked about my future plans for marriage from the Chiefs of the Village, I confidently answered with 100% honesty, even though being gay in Malawi is illegal, and one can serve up to 14 years in prison for being homosexual. 

My coming out was met with nothing but outpouring love and acceptance from the Village, inspired my LGBTQ students, and coincidentally happened on a very monumental day in history when the United States Supreme Court guaranteed the right for same-sex marriage! 

Watch the video above to hear the entire story! 

The Village Chiefs - Ngoleka Village, Malawi - 2015

buildOn Boston Trek to Malawi - June 2015


Selfies in Senegal by Lucas Turner

I am bursting with happiness to be back in the field with buildOn as I prepare for the Clemson Circle of Sisterhood trek team to arrive in Senegal! 🙌🌍

Words cannot describe how amazing it is to live in a village full of so much energy, culture and tradition. Trek is not your typical "voluntourism" - we live in the homes of the villagers, share meals together, work side by side and live life together. It is a fully immersive experience and when we leave, we leave as family full of emotion, memories and love. Everyone is on a level playing field - regardless of age, gender, nationality, skin color, etc.

So, before you judge my selfies and photos with these kiddos and the community, and tell me that I am objectifying them, or that I am putting myself on a pedestal as a white savior or saint, listen up. I am no saint. I am just a guy that happens to work internationally and likes to have fun while doing it. Last night, I led a community-wide meeting of over 50 people to prepare for our team's arrival. It was full of excitement, dancing, questions and pure curiosity. At the end, the whole community and myself took many photos and it was a riot. We had the time of our lives taking selfies, looking at the photos immediately as they were taken and we laughed our butts off. You can't tell me that I am doing something wrong by doing that. There have been many times I have been self conscious of posting photos of myself and the community's I work in because of judgmental critics. Well, those days of being hesitant are over because we are all humans, we all have joy and to be honest, selfies are fun and one hell of a good way to break the ice.

So, look at the joy on these kiddos faces. That joy is real and genuine. My hope and purpose for my photos are to show everyone the real and genuine side of working internationally. Hell, the genuine side of living for that matter. Also, I want to give you a glimpse into what I do. Believe it or not, Africa is a continent, not a country, and there are millions of people living life to the fullest that are incredibly happy. 🌍