How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Reflection of a Summer Intern

Posted on 8/20/2010 by The Bridge

The following post is a written by one of our summer interns, Isaiah Bartlett.

Isaiah (pictured in the middle) saying farewell to some of our clients and staff.

It is hard to believe that my summer has come to end an end when it feels like yesterday was my first day working at The Bridge. As many first days are, mine was one filled with nervousness, excitement, and uncertainty. My previous social work experience was at The Ali Forney Center where I provided case management services to homeless LGBT adolescents for my internship at New York University Silver School for Social Work. I was confident in my knowledge of homelessness and the barriers faced by this population, but I was unsure of how my experience with adolescents would prepare me for working with adults diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illnesses. Fortunately, I quickly learned that my past social work resume wasn’t what was important to the clients.

My experience working at The Bridge has been so overwhelming positive that I feel the best way to summarize my time spent here is with a story of something I refer to as a “Bridge moment.” It’s at least 95 degrees outside and Lindsay, another summer staff member, and I have just spent the past two hours touring The Bronx Zoo with clients. We are all exhausted and disappointed that we have to leave without getting to see all the animals. I’m walking with a client who has faithfully attended all of our summer trips, he’s telling me about his participation in a bird watching organization and how he’s always loved animals. He keeps his head down when he speaks and his hands remain firm on his hips; his mannerisms in contrast to the joy he’s expressing. He turns to me and tells him how meaningful the trip to the zoo has been and how important it has been for him to reconnect with nature. I stop him mid-sentence and point to giraffes in the distance; we were all convinced we would have to leave the zoo without seeing them. The client looks up at me, smiles, and returns to walking quietly with his head down. I wipe the sweat from my brow and realize that this is why I’m at The Bridge, that this is why we do summer trips; the clients are so much more than their mental illnesses, that they connect, that they smile, and they experience happiness, even if is expressed in ways that are at times difficult to recognize.

My summer was full of moments like this, Bridge moments, and because of this, I will always remember incredible staff and clients who made these memories possible.

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