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In preparation for DukeEngage OC, I made sure to do my research on earthquakes. As an east coast resident, I was always more familiar with hurricanes and tornadoes than I was with earthquakes. I looked up everything from what to expect to what the magnitude measurement means. Therefore, when I told my family I was going to California for the summer, they did not hold back on the earthquake jokes. However, I did not actually expect to be in one, let alone two earthquakes while in Orange County.

We had the day off work for July 4th and I was so excited to celebrate my favorite holiday. I woke up that morning ready to dress in festive colors and spend the day at the beach, but did not expect an earthquake to serve as my alarm. Although I did not feel that first earthquake, my phone exploded with texts asking if I was safe. For the next couple of days, I was extra aware of my surroundings and checked for evacuation routes in the case of another earthquake. When the second earthquake hit just two days later, I was on the couch of my fourth floor apartment wondering why everything was shaking. I quickly realized that this was another earthquake and immediately got to safety with my roommates.

Since Saturday, I have been on edge waiting for the next aftershock or possibly the next earthquake. Over the weekend, I talked to locals about the earthquakes with an intent to learn more about them and understand their impact on California as a whole. I learned that Saturday’s earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake had nearly the same magnitude; an earthquake that destroyed an entire country barely affected one state. Drawing this connection made me realize how lucky I am to live in a country with the resources, infrastructure, and support to withstand an earthquake.

Contextualizing the earthquakes experienced in California this past week to those that have destroyed entire communities, such as Haiti, made me think more about the disparities present in Orange County. While I am lucky enough to have housing and food on the table, many people in the area we are serving are homeless and cannot afford simple necessities. With camp starting Monday, I think it is important to learn about the community I will be interacting with and be aware of the challenges they face. Although the earthquake may have shaken me up, it helped me realize that I am more than ready to take on whatever camp may throw my way.