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Time is a strange concept. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and while that was definitely true this summer, it also seems like the beginning of Duke Engage was so long ago. It simultaneously feels like I’ve done nothing and that I’ve been here forever. Today, we gave our final presentation to Duke alumni and Girls Inc., and I realized how much we’ve accomplished in these eight weeks. We’ve successfully taught four weeks of STEM curriculum that we developed from start to finish, we helped facilitate female empowerment classes, and we also had time to volunteer with other local nonprofits.

However, I think the personal accomplishments I achieved were equally as important. Through this experience, I’ve made many connections, with other Duke students, the girls at camp, and other Girls Inc. staff and volunteers. Many of the Duke girls I work and live with are people I probably wouldn’t have met on campus, but through this experience, I’ve been able to become friends with some quality women who I will definitely hang out with once we get back to Duke. As for the campers at Eureka, even though the age difference between us makes it hard to form close friendships, I can still confidently say that I have become friends with some of them, or at least familiar enough for them to be comfortable around me. I hope that even though camp is now over, I can still stay in contact with them to help them through life as they grow. (For a more detailed account on how I feel about the connections I’ve made with the campers, refer to my last blog post.)

Lastly, I’ve cherished the time I’ve been able to spend with other Girls Inc. staff and volunteers. They are some of the most skilled, funny, kind, and overall best people I have ever met. They can command a classroom like nobody I’ve ever seen, but also remain so approachable to girls who need support in their lives. I aspire to have the interpersonal skills that they have. In addition to looking up to the staff, I also made some close friends with a few of them. They taught me a lot about local life in Orange County, like growing up here and living here as adults. I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back to visit them, but I will definitely be keeping in touch with them.

From the work that I’ve done to the connections I’ve made, I realize that I’ve accomplished so much in eight weeks. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that we will be leaving at the end of this week, and it’s hard for me to think that I might never be back. There’s so much I’ve done here that I don’t want to leave behind. So if time allows, I’d come back in a heartbeat.