JIP, Take Two

Will Owen, Johnson Intern Program

I chose to take a second year as a Johnson Intern for the same reasons that I pursued a first year: I couldn’t not do so. Taken from the range of possibilities, both choices seemed unlikely. In the first case, I was coming from an elite college in New England. What could North Carolina offer me? In the second case, I’d already spent a year living intentionally. Wouldn’t I stagnate if I stayed in the same place?

E.L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” The same could be said for life. In March of 2008 my headlights pointed towards the JIP and North Carolina; in March of 2009 they still did. Since the JIP doesn’t currently offer a third-year position, I trust that in March of 2010 those lights will point somewhere else!

The Johnson Intern Program has helped me find the self I had lost among the anxieties and pressures of eight years of elite academic life. As cliché as this may seem, coming to North Carolina felt like coming home, internally as well as externally. Servant Leadership, intentional living, Club Nova, and North Carolina have all provided a space for me to explore and discover who am I in all my messy aliveness. I feel freer than ever before to play, laugh, cry, write, and pray.

My first year with the program, those changes were rapid and broad. With every new concept I encountered an entire world opened to me. My second year with the program is allowing me to grow deeper in those discoveries, to pursue many of them beyond the surface level, to explore more of the subtleties of my own inner life. Both of these experiences are helping me find wholeness, a wholeness I trust I can, because of JIP, help others find.