Discovery Across The Sea And What Was Found
June 7, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Lane Fortenberry
Story by Amanda Horn
It’s human nature to want to be a part of something great. Within that something we often begin to find ourselves and may even discover our life mission. We may even be able to see things like we have never seen before and from a new perspective.
For Hilary Crawford, a public health major at Sam Houston State University, taking an internship in Ireland was her something great.
“Interning abroad has given me a strong perspective on the world,” Crawford said.
To start her journey Crawford applied for the internship through an organization called Global Experiences, which is dedicated to providing internship opportunities for college students. It also allows students to focus on career readiness and global leadership.
“Global Experience helped me narrow down my ideal location to Dublin or London,” Crawford said.
Having lived in both places as a child, her decision was challenging. However, after much thought, she choose to intern in Ireland.
“I really wanted to see it as an adult,” she said. “Plus, it was the only country that did not require a visa to be in the country and work.”
Crawford interned with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, a leading voice in securing improved rights and protections. The Council also benefits Irish citizens, migrants and their families. Crawford loved being able to intern with the Council of Ireland and enjoyed each day.
“The internship lasted about three months,” Crawford said.
The purpose of Crawford’s internship was to educate the government of Ireland about the importance of women’s mental health regarding prostitution. Crawford wanted the government to be aware that women forced into prostitution, as well as those who have been trafficked to Ireland illegally, are being exposed to health risks, particularly mentally.
“I did a lot of research focusing on why we need to change the laws and make it possible to end trafficking and prostitution,” Crawford said.
Getting women and children the help that they will need to move on from their traumas was one goal that Crawford had in mind while in Ireland. Through her research, she was able to write a booklet that teaches people how to assist the women and children that are being rescued and placed in housing units. In doing this, she furthered her knowledge on the issues of mental health.
“I was able to see how important it is to educate not only myself and the public about mental health, but also how government policies affect individuals,” Crawford said.
Crawford also chose to intern in Ireland because she has ancestors from Dublin and hoped that with the outside chance, she would be able to find out more about her personal history.
“I have always had an interest in my family history,” she said. “It’s partially due to the fact that I never met my grandparents.”
Crawford had a great-aunt who, before she passed away, started drawing up what little she knew about their family ancestry. While in her search, her great-aunt could not understand where and when their black ancestors entered the picture. Although she was multi-racial, her research indicated all family members were white. Crawford was determined to figure out why that was. Unfortunately, it was a bit harder than she thought it would be.
“I still have not found where my black ancestry came from, which is annoying me,” Crawford said.
However, Crawford did discover quite a bit. She was able to trace her family back to England, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal, and Italy. She also discovered that she has cousins in Texas, New England, Utah, and even in Ireland. Because she is originally from Barbados, this discovery was truly fascinating to her.
“I also found out that the building I worked in was the same building my five times great-grandmother was born and lived in, which was so surreal to me,” Crawford said.
To begin her research, Crawford went to Ancestry.com and FamilySeearch.org. Although, when it came to her family in Ireland she had to physically go to the churches because her ancestors were not Roman Catholic, and their information was not online. Crawford loved learning about her ancestry, especially in a wonderful place like Ireland.
“It can be challenging to find out more about one’s heritage from a distance, so I am grateful for this unexpected discovery,” Crawford said.
The experiences that Crawford had while interning in Ireland are something that she will never forget. The internship made her realize that she wants to do more work involving mental health and how it has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives.
“I want to go back to school and get my nursing degree because I love the idea of teaching health to the community and helping those in need,” Crawford said.
Finding more information on her Irish roots, although astonishing, has also given Crawford a new outlook on herself and what she has to offer not just to the United States, but the world.
“The more I found out about my family, the more exciting it got,” she said. “I felt and still feel like I am unraveling a mystery.”
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