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Towards the end of our first week, we were invited to a Duke alum event at Sue Parr’s, one of the alum’s, beautiful house. It was a delight to meet all the alum that live in Orange County and to hear about their journeys after they graduated from Duke and how they ended up on the West Coast. We also saw some familiar faces at this event—Artyn and Max Gardner welcomed us with warm smiles again.

One of the most notable things at this event was the food! Each alum brought their own dish and we feasted on home barbequed carne asadas, fresh guacamole, homegrown tomatoes—just to name a few. It was really incredible to see the fresh fruits and vegetables native to California and to see what amazing dishes that could be made using them.

Sue Parr showed us an onion the size of her head and an avocado the size of a mango. The instant I landed I had taken an interest in the food in California—I’ve heard of the great produce on this coast; to see them in person was a truly unforgettable experience. We shared many great conversations (ranging from our project mission to Duke basketball!) over the food with the alumni under the sun, warmed by the company and the environment.

The alumni were also very generous and allowed us to take home all the leftovers from the potluck after hearing about our limited stipend. They also gathered their resources together to obtain the supplies that we needed for the curriculum we wrote for Girls Inc. and could not purchase on our own. We left this event full, happy, and incredibly grateful for the opportunities that Duke has provided us with and the people that it has put us in contact with.