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The focus of our seventh week at Duke Engage Orange County was on reflection in a number of different forms. Throughout the week, I found myself thinking back on the Boeing panel Girls Inc. put on last week during an afternoon session of Eureka! camp. The panel included one aerospace engineer, one industrial engineer, and one architect-turned-facilities analyst from a Boeing company location that is headquartered near Santa Ana, where many of the Eureka! participants live. At first, I hadn’t felt sure about how the panel would go–I knew each of the campers had prepared questions they wanted to ask, but I doubted how much a group of predominantly middle and early high school students would be able to relate to and learn effectively from the adults in complex engineering jobs. Surprisingly, the campers seemed to enjoy the panel immensely, and I found it fascinating to hear the engineers speak about the day-to-day intricacies of their jobs in a way that was accessible and encouraging to our campers considering future careers in STEM.

Another way in which we engaged in reflection this week, however, was via our racial equity workshop facilitated by Bryana Clover of 1619 Consulting. On Thursday morning, she led our final of several two-hour sessions intended to foster brave spaces to have tough conversations about race in pursuit of inspiring individual and organizational change. As I think back on these sessions and the readings and preparation associated with each one, I feel extraordinarily grateful–these workshops have been my first opportunity to engage over a substantial period of time in a space devoted solely to discussing race and its uncomfortable implications and challenges, and the emphasis on inclusive process over easily packaged product and cheap closure when seeking racial equity has been a valuable paradigm shift for me. Next week, I’m really looking forward to concluding our program and debriefing with Girls Inc. staff.