Here at Verbal we’ve just said good-bye to Brigid Miller, a history major from St Olaf College, Minnesota, who has worked with us since September. She’s the most recent intern to join us as part of the HECUA ‘Democracy and Social Change’ programme which is connected to one of our academic partner organizations, Ulster University’s INCORE.  It’s been an absolute joy to host Brigid, a remarkable young woman, who has supported our programmes with great commitment, passion and intelligence. Here is a blog she wrote for us about her experience;

“As my internship with Verbal comes to a close, I want to reflect on one of the most impactful things I have learned during my time here; the power of storytelling.

There is great power in telling and sharing stories

"Stories help connect us and bring us closer together. By understanding someone else’s story you begin to understand their perspective and their viewpoints. This gives storytelling a great power and ability to serve as a link between people and perspectives. During my time with Verbal, I was able to form relationships with people who have very different lives than my own, through the power of stories.

"One of the programs at Verbal that I have been fortunate enough to work with is Reading Friends. This program has allowed me to spend my Wednesday afternoons reading and talking with residents at Edenballymore Lodge. This opportunity made me excited, but also nervous since I am a student from Chicago and did not think I would be able to connect to the members of the group. Nevertheless, I went into the first session and began by reading the poem “Wee Hughie” by Elizabeth Shane. This poem got us talking about our own first days of school and the memories we attribute with going to school. This common experience, and the stories I listened to and told, allowed me to form connections with the group members.

As we laughed, talked, and sang for the rest of the session and the many sessions afterwards, I began to truly understand how literature and stories bring people together.

Brigid continued: “Through the poems and the stories we shared, a 20 year-old American student was able to create relationships with people from Northern Ireland who were generations older. The stories that we bonded over erased the vast gap in our experiences and backgrounds and allowed us to sit and reminisce with one another. The stories did not just come through this programme, my internship at Verbal was enhanced by conversations with co-workers and volunteers, with whom I talked about anything and everything.

These moments of personal storytelling allowed me to connect with people around me and feel welcome in a place that is hundreds of miles from home.

Concluding Brigid said: “Through Reading Friends and many other wonderful programs, Verbal harnesses the power of storytelling and uses it to make positive experiences and changes starting in their office and spreading throughout Northern Ireland.”