AKA interns are the best part of our business and what we do. Interns bring our mission to life. Interns show us the importance of equity, the value of connection, and the need to promote a shared understanding of evaluation and research. We support interns as they find themselves and their ultimate purpose. We hire interns connected to the communities we serve. We ask them to take on big projects like community outreach, data collection, interviews, and podcasts. We help interns answer big questions like…Why are we here? What is it that I am called to do? How can we match purpose with meaningful work?
We invited Brighten Crawford, AKA intern to share her thoughts on resilience, mental health, and intergenerational connections.
I always compared finding yourself to mining for gold. Do you know how to mine for gold? As you go deep under the earth you look for the smallest vein of gold - follow it and chip away the excess rock until you have your treasure. That’s how I found myself. At first, I didn’t think there was much there, but over the years and through a painful process of digging deep and gnawing away excess rock I have discovered parts of myself I treasure, and those parts are not new, they have been there since I was formed, and I believe it is my honor and obligation to discover them.
There is much work and complexity when mining for gold this is also true when gold is being formed. I believe we are the same way, formed out of beautiful and complex things. However, we are much more precious than gold.
I was formed of the stuff of resiliency.
I believe my ancestors passed that on to me and it saved my life. Ever since I could remember I have struggled with my mental health. I have come to know the dark abyss that knows no feeling and no mercy. Mental health can be such a scary thing because when you are struggling with it, you feel like you are struggling alone. You feel as if no one could understand and if anyone saw inside your mind, they would take you for a crazy person. It got to a point where my mental health struggles were so severe, that I saw myself facing the choice of life or death. I felt like I could not go on. I saw myself in the dark abyss engulfed by this drowning and suffocating darkness and then suddenly in the corner of my eye I saw this little twinkle of light. I assumed that because I had been so distracted by the darkness, I must not have noticed it, but the closer I got the brighter the light got and soon it filled the room in which I stood. It was then I realized I had chosen life or life had chosen me.
As I learn more about my culture and more about my ancestors, I know I didn’t make many decisions that night.
I didn’t choose life; my ancestors chose it. They fought for it, they gave their life for it. I am here today because of their resilience, because in their choice to live they chose me.
My grandma Lizzie is one of my ancestors who I believe gifted me with resiliency. As a child she was taken and forced to attend boarding school where she, and other children, were tortured in many cruel ways. Some of those children didn’t come back from boarding school. However, she did and it is through her that I have my grandma and it is because of my grandma that I have my dad. In honor of my grandma Lizzie, to whom I owe everything, I wrote this: