From the Twin Cities to Kenya: Brynne goes to Africa

By Jon Krieg

In September 2023, Brynne Crockett, AFSC Healing Justice Program Director in the Twin Cities, joined AFSC colleagues from around the world at a Youth Program Network Gathering in Kenya. In a recent interview, Brynne shared about that experience.

Kenya was amazing, it was life changing. It was a dream trip. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa.

I started work at AFSC during Covid, so I didn’t get a chance to meet a lot of staff in person. I can feel like I’m on an island in the Midwest. The trip to Kenya was refreshing. It gave me even more confidence in the direction we’re going with our Twin Cities work. Trusting that I’m in the right space and doing the right things.

Our food and lodging were great. The hosts were really good. The Kenyan team did a great job taking us around to see different things.


Brynne Crockett shares with AFSC colleagues.

I felt privileged. Especially being a person of color, having the chance to experience Africa. There’s no better feeling.

It was the longest flight I’d ever been on. I’ve traveled to Jamaica and Hawaii, which were six hours max from LA, so nine total. But those two 8 ½ hour flights to Kenya! I learned my lesson. I might want to pay to upgrade my seat. My chiropractor had a blast when I got back!

The travel there was totally worth it. It opened my eyes. I’m not a really big flyer. I’ve been fearful of heights and turbulence. But being on a plane that long, you don’t have a choice but to get used to it. It made me feel free, to know that no matter what happens, it’s really worth it to see different parts of the world.


Brynne feeds a new friend.

My favorite part was the animals. Being able to be that close to them. The only ones of the Big Five I didn’t see were the cats. I saw rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebras and hippos. Feeding giraffes – that was crazy!

Meeting colleagues was beneficial for me, and it was cool to get to know AFSC’s international programs. That can feel like a whole other sector of the work.

Saif Atari [AFSC Youth Director] set up a buddy system. Vicky Leonardo was my buddy while I was there in Kenya. She works for AFSC in Guatemala.

I was like, “wow.” Having the interpreters there, being able to communicate and correlate. We’re all doing amazing work, and we’re all in our separate sectors and hubs. Saif’s goal was to bring us together and see how much work we’re doing that’s similar. We want to find connections so we can collaborate in ways that are beneficial to the young people we’re serving and the communities we want to impact.

I can see connecting with Julian Andaya, who directs AFSC’s Emerging Leaders for Liberation work. ELL starts in April, which is the time we wrap up our Twin Cities Youth Board. How cool would it be if we had Youth Board alumni join the ELL cohort and have the opportunity to connect with young people around the US?

Lupe [de la Cruz, the AFSC Florida Program Director], and I were talking about sharing materials. If she has a curriculum that’s been really effective in Miami, why isn’t that something I could bring to Minneapolis to try? Or vice versa. So again, we’re stronger because we’ll have young people in Minneapolis and Florida who are aware of what’s happening in both places.

Especially with our young people moving around. That’s the special thing I love about AFSC. We are flag posts in a lot of places. If I have young people graduating out of high school and going to college in places with AFSC offices. I have a young person on our Youth Board who’s connecting with Mary Zerkel in Chicago.

It’s good to be able to share our young people with other caring adults who align with the same morals they’ve been learning and can create that familiarity that creates comfort and safety.

We’re all part of small teams. We’re a team of three in the Twin cities. We’re pretty small in the sense of the broad picture of the work we’re trying to do, which is impact society and change the world.

That takes a long period of grinding at the same time. But if you’re doing that with the larger network we have, I feel like it could push the needle more.

The trip was amazing. I’m still on a natural high from it. I definitely am grateful to have had that opportunity. Gratitude is my word for it.


Thanks to Jacob Flowers of AFSC for his photography.

Regarding going to Africa, I’ve been telling people I feel like I have Vibranium in my body now and that I went to Wakanda. Being a person of color and getting to Africa, it felt different spiritually. It was amazing.

Saif Atari shares his thanks to Charlotte Adika and the Nairobi-based team, as well as the Africa regional office for stepping up big and hosting the 2023 gathering; they also had support from Safwat Shibly and the Middle East regional Office. Saif said the team members relentlessly remained welcoming and true to their value and culture of respect, hospitality and exhibited the brightest and most colorful smiles all along to make the organizing of this demanding event successful, and making yet another example of Global Cohesion in the world of AFSC.