a Dual Life
Laurini was with NASA ten years before she had
children and there was no question that she'd keep working. "I
learned I can go to work and give my all to NASA and to the space
but then, when I go home, I'm there for my children. You have
to make sure that your kids are taken care of when you're not
with them. And if you do that properly, you have a great sense
of peace when you're at work." Laurini's unusual when compared
to Dutch women. Most do not work, and if they do not five days
a week. Many mothers ask her, "Oh, how can you do it? How can
you work five days a week and manage a house and take care of
your children?" Once she explains, there's an immediate change
of attitude. "They're intrigued by the fact that not
only do I go to work, but that I have a career, and that I'm
using my time away from my kids to do something as exciting as
building a space station that helps mankind."
Window into Space
station is uniquely positioned to engage children
by helping them think outside of their normal daily environment.
"At NASA, we call it 'thinking outside of the box,' but it's really
expanding the way they look at the world; challenging what they
know to be true," said Laurini. Hopefully,
this new awareness will motivate children to pursue scientific
or artistic careers. "I believe that future activities in space
will be multinational; I think children that adapt easily in multicultural
situations will be better positioned to play a role in building
the spacecraft of the future, or being the astronauts of the future.
They can get along with people from all over the world; they can
speak different languages maybe they'd be perfect candidates to
send to Mars."
Go to space? Laurini would love to. But
with young kids, the hours of training necessary for even a two-week
shuttle mission would require too much time away. She'd be happy
to take a voucher to go in a few years. Perhaps, then, bringing
the kids will be as easy as taking a plane ride (but with a whole
different mileage program).