And last, but not least, I’d like to ask Kristina to step forward.
I’ve already told you about Kristina’s experiences with us as a leader. Now I want to tell you a little bit more about her as a person.
Kristina joined us four years ago with Christine, Lillian’s sister. I know this because they sat together and the adults kept getting their names confused, which seemed to delight them.
Kristina was aloof her first year, a member who sat on the outer ring of seats and went on outings with her mother but who was reserved. She decided the following year to run for secretary and won and she became a great secretary and transformed into one of the crew’s most reliable leaders.
Along the way her confidence grew as she realized she was among those running the crew instead of just watching what happened.
Those who know Kristina know her as hard-working, academically gifted, strong, dedicated, responsible, with a razor sharp wit, and just as sharp a tongue sometimes, a gigantic sense of independence and a beautiful heart. As annoying as her protests and teasing can be, her smiles are among the best anywhere.
She and I have had many talks over the years about issues small and large. Sometimes those discussions were by email, sometimes in person or on the phone, more recently text. And along the way she, like most young people, has gone through stages. There was the dark fairy stage, where she used to sign her emails FOD, for fairy of darkness, a reference to her Halloween costume one year; the stealing-my-hat stage, when my hat seemed to be in her hands more than on top of my head; the I’m beast stage and the I’m the boss stage. The latter came with her election as president of the Council’s VOA and one of the moments that I saw true growth in her was when she took control of that body and let everyone, including the Council’s adult advisor, know she was in charge.
In reminiscing about her time with us, I went through our emails and texts. I’m a pack rat when it comes to messages from the youth. And it was fun looking at years of loving correspondence, with openings like Dear Smelly Smith, Hey Dude, or Poo Head. Respect takes time, you see.
It’s never been hard for me to draw an opinion out of Kristina, even though sometimes I wished I hadn’t.
A couple years ago she wondered if our meeting before Christmas would be at its normal time. “I hope it’s not normal time, thats just retarded,” she wrote. Another time I asked her how she was coming on finishing putting photos on the website.
“I’ll get to work on the website as soon as i get a chance where my older brother isn’t being a butt and is mad at me and i at him.”
Actually, Kristina’s relationship with her siblings is probably the closest I have seen in years of working with youth. This is a very tight and loving family but one that enjoys verbal sparing and sarcasm.
Three years ago, Kristina saw this moment tonight coming. We were sitting on a beach in North Carolina and she was telling me then how she would probably end up going out of state for college. She said then that she would miss me and there were times since when it looked like she would move sooner rather than later.
I for one am happy that she has stayed as along as she has and even more pleased that she has become the leaders she has. Over the past four years I have watched a lanky, sharp-tongued, aloof girl turn into a sophisticated, caring, highly respected leader and beautiful young woman with a very bright future.
So when it came time to name her, there were many temptations. The Indians don’t have a name for Fairy of Darkness but do for woman who talks a lot. But there really has always been one name for this lady. Soon after she joined I learned of her passion for one creature. It is an animal that Native Americans wove into their early creation history and believed was the guardian of water and a symbol of fertility. I found that interesting since for a time, Kristina worked as a lifeguard and has always enjoyed working for the protection of wildlife. In fact, this creature in Indian mythology is always viewed as female, usually alone and independent, with supernatural strength, humility and patience. It will come as a surprise to any one in the crew, therefore, that I award you the Shoshone name Kimana, which means “Spring Frog.”