Crystal Abrahim, dreamer and doer
“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” —Sarah Ban Breathnach
Inspired by this famous quote, Crystal Abrahim has a unique reason for majoring in sociology and minoring in international security and conflict resolution at San Diego State University. Throughout history, minorities such as the Christian Chaldeans in Iraq struggled against isolation and persecution. In 1980, Crystal’s parents immigrated to the US and first joined joined family in Michigan, resettling in a strong community of their compatriots in San Diego, but in the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein the persecution of this ethnic group renewed and intensified. As traumatized immigrants who had witnessed atrocities and escaped a massacre, Crystal’s aunt and cousins arrived from Baghdad in 2003, joining the young Chaldean Christian community united by its ancient religious and cultural traditions. Their heritage is rich, venerable, and precious to them, and as it healed Crystal’s family, it also instilled a unique consciousness into a resolute young woman who is nurtured by both Eastern and Western ways. It is perhaps her Western half that compels her to act on her dream of peace and justice.
Crystal is certain about one thing in her life and that is that she is destined to help those in need. “My heart has always been attached to human rights, and I plan on living a life dedicated to preventing crimes against humanity.” She hopes to attend graduate school where she would emphasize the study of human rights, aiming to work with victims escaping genocide. She wishes to be a voice for the innocent people who have been caught in the crossfire of war and terrorism, particularly the Christians in Iraq who face such perilous desperation while the world knows little of their plight.
Even while completing her education, she is always involved in a project that is a part of the solution. Paying her way through college means working at Starbucks, a company that is compatible with Crystal’s determination to make a difference. She feels that an understanding of community demographics leads to useful targeting of those most in need. Some of the community service events through Starbucks involved collecting boxes for the Salvation Army, food for the San Diego Food Bank, Christmas cards to the St. Vincent De Paul homeless shelter, activities and books for Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and sponsoring specific children facing life-threatening illnesses. “The greatest thing that happens when people come together and help one another [is] the lasting impact of love and kindness,” Crystal says. The turnout in support of two little girls suffering from neuroblastoma reinforced Crystal’s sense that one person has the ability to ignite a great outpouring of compassion. This is, as she puts it, “exactly what keeps my candle burning.”
She has considered such careers as working for the United Nations’ Holy See, or improving the lives of those living in disadvantaged communities through education, or even creating a non-profit charitable organization. Whatever direction she chooses, Nelson Mandela’s words point the way for her. “Education,” he said, “is the most powerful weapon you could use to change the world.” Crystal believes mediation and diplomacy along with education forge the path to the elimination of persecution and genocide. This path is also her path.