Week 2 of camp was not any less of a rollercoaster than the first week. If anything, it was more emotionally draining, but in a different way. This week, we taught our flashlight curriculum, which we planned from start to finish. Teaching our own curriculum was stressful since we had to know every lesson plan for the whole week, but it was immensely fulfilling too. We taught the girls about circuits and light, and by the end of the week, each girl had built a functioning flashlight. Even though the content we taught them was tough, at the end, we were very proud of both ourselves for successfully finishing the week and the girls for building their own functioning circuit and flashlight.
More emotionally draining was the workshop activity we did on Thursday. The whole camp participated in an activity called Cross the Line, where a statement was called out, and if you can relate to the statement, you walk across a line. At first, I was excited to participate with the girls, but I had mixed feelings once we started. On one hand, it was a good exercise in relatability and comfort with each other, but at the same time, many of the statements were very exposing and uncomfortable. Many girls cried. I even cried. But my tears, and I assume many other girls’, were not shed out of comfort or relatability, but out of shame and recalling bad experiences. I did not want to recall some of the experiences that the statements called for, and crossing the line forced me to expose those experiences and feelings I had suppressed.
While I did cross the line for some statements, there were many I didn’t cross for, yet I was still ashamed of not crossing for them. I felt ashamed of my privilege, like I couldn’t relate to the girls who did cross, like I was different, like I didn’t belong. I shared these feelings with other Duke Engagers, and they spun my frustrations in a positive light. They reminded me that it’s okay to be privileged because it’s not something I can change. What I can change, though, is how I use my privilege. I was reminded of my purpose and goals for this summer. Instead of feeling bad about myself, I could use my privilege to uplift these girls and help them live a better life.
The good thing that came out of Cross the Line was a reality check. Many of the girls at camp have experienced things I don’t think anybody their age should ever have to experience, and it hurts me to see the truth. But I also recognize that having those experiences doesn’t disqualify them from living a fulfilling life. I hope my time here can show them that they can overcome the challenges the world throws at them and come out stronger, smarter, and bolder.