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Last Friday was the last day of Eureka!. To close camp, we had an event called Eurekathon, which included a talent show, tenth grade graduation from Eureka, an awards ceremony, and Lina (one of the other DukeEngagers) crying. If I were to describe it in one word, I would say it was bittersweet. It was heartwarming to see all the Eureka girls come together, supporting each other, friendships growing and solidifying. But I also knew that it is quite likely that I will never see these girls again.

I’ve seen many different sides of the girls at camp, and the conversations that I’ve had with them make me think about topics like poverty, homelessness, love, and empowerment in completely different ways. How do I connect with someone whose life experiences I cannot understand? How can I show love in my teaching and conversations with others? What is the best way to reach and empower someone? These are questions that I still have to work towards answering. The girls have made me realize how important it is for me to do so, and they’ve helped me slowly figure it out too.

The girls have made me see myself and my actions in a different way. During Eurekathon, the girls wrote notes for the staff, which were compiled in separate jars for each staff member. I’ve read the notes in my jar several times now. The girls thanked me for creating fun, innovative lessons, for showing them card tricks, for making origami with them during lunchtime, for being friendly and kind. These little things that I did stuck with the girls, so I know for sure that a simple act of kindness goes a long way. Also, during the third week of camp, I was presented with the “Facilitator of the Week” award, which is voted on by the Eureka girls. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. Coming from a tiny school in a town that no one’s heard of, I went from a big fish in a little pond to a tiny minnow in an ocean when I came to Duke. I think it’s a feeling that many Duke students feel when they see how accomplished, smart, and successful their classmates are. I didn’t see myself as special, a role model, or a leader for a long time after I got to Duke. These Eureka girls have shown me that I still can be. It sounds cheesy, but the only thing holding me back is myself.

I’m going to miss these Girls Inc. girls a lot. I hope they find their ways and change the world like I know they can.