These 21 bedrooms from across the world will help you understand millennials.

What can you learn about someone from seeing their bedroom?

There are all kinds of theories about how things like color and clutter can convey everything from romantic viability to mental health and so much more. But suffice to say: Those private places where we rest our heads can sure reveal a lot.

Perhaps a better question is: What can you learn about people in general from seeing lots and lots and lots of bedrooms?

That's what French photographer John Thackwray wanted to know.


As part of that vaguely-defined group of '80s and '90s babies known as "millennials," Thackwray saw firsthand how technology was changing the world at increasingly rapid rates and began to wonder about the impact that was having on his generation all around the world. What was the relationship between internet connectivity and inequality and things like education, women's rights, and poverty?

What better way to find out than to look at people's bedrooms?

A map of everywhere that Thackwray shot a "My Room" photograph. ​All photos by John Thackwray/My Room Project.

Over a period of six years, Thackwray photographed and interviewed more than 1,200 young people in their bedrooms (or other sleeping spaces) in 55 different countries.

Like him, they were all millennials. Thackwray found his subjects with the help of friends, social media, and local NGOs — although he did occasionally ask random people on the street if he could photograph their bedrooms, which was just as awkward, and as dangerous, as one could imagine.

But it also helped him learn a lot along the way.

"Each person has their own story and they can talk about something that is wider and more universal. [...] such as living into the war, adoptions, the traditional values, the rural exodus, or the African unity for example. I’m trying to do a big story in a small one," he explained.

Take a look at some of Thackwray's personal favorites and see for yourself what kinds of patterns or other surprising things you notice.

1. Room #24: Joseph, 30, an artist in Paris

2. Room #192: Andreea, 24, a civil engineer in Bucharest, Romania

3. Room #205: Gullé, 29, an actress in Istanbul, Turkey

4. Room #219: Maleeq, 28, an entertainer in New York City

5. Room #256: Ryoko, 25, an IT engineer in Tokyo

6. Room #290: Yuan, 22, a seller in Dali, China

7. Room #313: Fha, 20, a farmer in Ban Sai Ngam, Thailand

8. Room #348: Asha, 17, a housewife in Bamansemilya, India

9. Room #385: Pema, 22, a Buddhism student in Kathmandu, Nepal

10. Room #416: Oleg, 24, a telecom engineer in Novosibirsk, Russia

11. Room #458: Zhalay, 18, a high school student in Zhambyl, Kazakhstan

12. Room #466: Élahé, 29, a painter in Tehran, Iran

13. Room #561: Ben, 22, a movie student in Dallas

14. Room #665: Marcello, 18, a high school student in La Paz, Bolivia

15. Room #711: Claudio, 24, an archivist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

16. Room #733: Fatou, 17, a seamstress in Thiès, Senegal

17. Room #807: Mohamad, 18, a high school student in Saint Catherine, Egypt

18. Room #867: Ezekiel, 22, a warrior-nomad in Echo Manyata, Kenya

19. Room #915: Josee, 22, an accounting student in Kigali, Rwanda

20. Room #1049: Osia, 18, a shepherd in Ha Selomo, Lesotho

21. Room #1093: Sabrina, 27, a kindergarten teacher in Shatila, Lebanon

These photos are all clearly similar in their bird's eye views of smiling subjects. But they have more in common than one might notice at first glance.

"Most of them share an access to Internet and social network, including Saudi young women and farmers in the African bush. This is definitely the connected generation," Thackwray said. "And something important to keep in my mind is that this is the youth who is designing the world of tomorrow."

They also all have items of personal significance that they keep close to them — which perhaps isn't surprising, but is still a moving reminder that we all fall into the same habits, and seek those small moments of happiness in surprisingly similar ways.

"Many people confuse comfort and happiness," Thackwray said. "Actually I've see more smiles in poor countries, and much more depression in developed countries."

The private places where people sleep reveal a lot about us as individuals. But viewed together, they make a powerful statement about how we all seek solace and serenity, despite our differences in race, religion, gender, career, income, and experience.

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Prior to European colonization of North America, millions of bison roamed the Great Plains. By the turn of the 20th century, those numbers had dropped to less than 1,000. The deliberate decimation of buffalo herds was a direct attack on the Native American people, who colonizers saw as an obstacle to their "Manifest Destiny," and who the U.S. government engaged in a systematic attempt to eliminate or force into docile submission.

For thousands of years, bison were a sacred, inseparable part of life for Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains, used for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing, in addition to spiritual and emotional well-being. Wiping out the bison population nearly wiped out the Native tribes they were connected to.

Though bison numbers have increased significantly thanks to conservation efforts, governments are still grappling with the ugly legacy, and some municipalities are taking steps to try to repair some of the damage done. As one example, the city of Denver, Colorado has taken the step of giving some of the city's bison population managed by Denver Parks and Recreation to Native American tribes engaged in bison conservation efforts.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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