The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. When you fly to California from North Carolina you outrun the sun, resulting in a day 3 hours longer than any other. It’s as though you turn back time, arriving to your destination maybe before you even technically departed. Those three hours continue on as though you’re about to fall asleep at seven, your body not natural to the time zone. I left my home in North Carolina around 8:45 am and landed around 10. When I look ahead to four weeks later, those three hours have become three years that I have reversed in order to understand and empathize with ninth and tenth graders. I want to act as an older sister figure, mentoring the girls through their heartbreaks and angst and familial tension. I can to a degree, but it’s so difficult to truly send yourself back five years and remember the way it felt to be fourteen. I’m out of touch with the girls, unable to relate to their music taste and crushes and dramatics. Middle and high school feels like decades ago, and I’ve grown and learned more in the past year than the last five probably combined. A fellow DukeEngager and I have taken it upon ourselves to watch the Twilight Saga during our free evenings after work and my older, more experienced eyes see the series with a completely altered perspective on gender roles and teen dating violence than my fourteen-year-old self ever did. In high school I watched the films and agonized over wanting attention from a boy. Now I watch them only to consciously notice the political viewpoints and unhealthy relationship traits the movies push. Everything I’ve learned is brought into perspective when I watch the campers memorialize recently departed rapper XXXTentacion or stand up for known abuser Chris Brown, openly suggesting it was his victims’ faults. When I hear the bullying students endure or the snide comments some of the girls make towards others. I can’t place myself in their shoes and I’m not sure I’m heartbroken about it, because I’ve been through that, have grown from it, and have learned to never go back. I do empathize with those going through all of that, and at the end of camp, I hope I’ve simply given them the tools and the confidence that they’ll need to get through it.