Alumni Spotlight: Micaela Bogen


Micaela Bogen, 21, is from Cambridge, England. Currently studying Visual Communications at Leeds College of Art, Micaela travels the world within her degree, volunteering in various places across the globe. Having started up her own organization The Pipe Dream Experience once returning from her trip in October 2013 for 1 month, she now works in collaboration with LSU and plans to be returning on various occasions starting Easter 2014.

What inspired you to work with LSU in Malawi?

Micaela: I've been volunteering already a few times in various places, but for some reason Africa never appealed to me, until my sister went out to work with LSU a few years back and it completely changed her life.

Having met the girls who run LSU already, and hearing the amazing stories I thought I should go out and experience this amazing place - and it lived up to its expectations!

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Micaela: Every day is different at LSU - this is what makes it so unique.

Although you have your main project going on, they give you the opportunity every evening to decide what you want to do the next day. Taking your own preference into consideration - they understand that you want to gain the most out of your time there.

Some days I would work in the orphanage, others I would work on site in the villages. Every day is a new experience, where you are given the opportunity to meet new people, locals or not and share stories, ideas and interests with one another as well as work together to generate positive change!

Tell us about one person you met.

Micaela: Whilst I was out there, I was making the promotional film for LSU, therefore meeting, interviewing and discovering new people and places every day.

One person that really stood out for me and has genuinely changed my life would be a man called Van. He's a Malawian volunteer who found LSU through community work and helps out wherever needed - but mostly with art, as he studies this at university.

Getting to know him was amazing, and learning about him and his life was even more fascinating. The intelligence these people have is insane, and if given the opportunity to generate a future they would do it with double the amount of love and passion. and they would achieve it to their full potential.

He wants to be an Artist - to collaborate with artists from all over the world and sell his work on a website to the western society. Unfortunately without the basic essentials of a computer, camera and knowing how the internet works, he can't achieve his dream.

This pushed me to creating my own organization called The Pipe Dream Experience which tackles poverty in a creative way, and gives people the opportunity to grow as artists and use their creativity to impact change and better the lives of them and others around them.

From meeting one man, my life has been changed, and hopefully his will have too!

What made your volunteer experience with LSU unique and special?

Micaela: Volunteering with LSU was something that I've never experienced before.

The girls that run the organization are full of passion and determined to make change in Malawi. They both have a clear business mind but also have the complete ability to be your friend and understand YOU as an individual.

How has your volunteer experience with LSU impacted your life?

Micaela: Personally, it has made me so much more aware, more confident, more accepting but most of all it has made me more motivated.

The girls are truly inspiring, and believe in you so much that you begin to wonder why you never believed in yourself in the first place. I owe so much love to these girls.

Professionally, as I said perviously, this experience has made me start my own experience -The Pipe Dream Experience- which is a collective of like-minded people coming together to make change in the world through a creative root.

I believe that poverty and aid has been tackled in a way which causes negative rather than positive change, which is something I learned whilst in Malawi. But people like LSU and hopefully one day The Pipe Dream Experience will achieve a more impactful and positive outcome on the aid that we give - and show people that together, with creativity and love we can start something new.

As well as this organization booming, I went out to Malawi to do a Visual Communications placement in link with my Uni where I made a video for LSU - this has given me a first hard experience of the real world and something which I want to carry out in my future.

If it wasn't for LSU i would be where I am today, and I love where I am today.