An Experience Unlike Anything Else

We asked all of our Summer 2016 interns to share something from their experience with all of you. This is from Crysta Wall. Enjoy!


Living in a different culture for an entire summer has been the most influential and amazing experience in my life thus far. It was not just a fun, carefree summer. It was fun, but it was also hard and strenuous, both physically and emotionally.

The summer was a continual roller coaster of emotions. As an intern there are moments you wish you had not experienced and moments that you wish that you could relive. You also get to know the ins and outs of HCO and how they operate. You get to experience a culture close up and for an extended amount of time.

As the summer progressed, I began to identify more with my Haitian friends than with the American teams. This is great but also hard, as it starts to take a toll on your mental state. For me, I found it hard to relate, at times, to the teams that came. It was hard to put myself back in their shoes, even though just weeks before I was where they were. I couldn’t see Haiti the way they did anymore. It had become home, and things that are shocking to Americans became commonplace. For me, this was one of the biggest struggles, having to take a step back and put myself where they were.

dsc_9359Doing an internship, especially in a different culture away from home, is such a growing experience. You get to challenge yourself, find new strengths, learn to live with other people, and so much more. You make relationships that will last a lifetime and become part of a new family. You’re with a group of people 24/7 that you had never met before the summer, and it’s great to be a part of the inside jokes.

dsc_9804 It’s an experience unlike anything else. Hard and uplifting; heart breaking and heart wrenching; beautiful and ugly; peaceful and hectic; too short and too long; inspirational and challenging.

In everything this past summer, God was there. Everywhere I turned He was there, even when I was deliberately trying to be mad at Him or not see Him…there He was. I believe that for us Americans it is often easier to see God when we go outside of what we know (American culture) and into what we don’t.

One of the most important things that I took away from the summer is that no matter the culture or country, God created us all. We are not that different. There are broken families, death and life, work, emotions, love, sickness and healing, Christians and non-Christians, crime, politics, and so on.

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The most difficult thing is that no one back in the US really knows completely what I experienced. No one truly understands that I had to leave my Haiti family and friends, not knowing when I will see them again. They have not seen Haiti the way I did. People will ask questions or talk about Haiti, and it will be frustrating because they just can’t understand. There will be times that something will happen reminding me of my time in Haiti, and I will be mad, sad, and happy all at once, knowing that the only people who know what I’m going through – the other interns – totally understand.

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If you are thinking about doing an internship and are scared, you’re not alone. There will always be unanswered questions and fears but don’t let those hold you back. There is a reason you came to Haiti the first time and don’t forget that. God does have a plan for you even if that is unclear at the time. Get out of your comfort zone and follow Him!

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