Learning from the Students
While my first week in Orange County with Duke Engage was all about training and learning about the area, this week was really focused on the people.
On Tuesday we went to meet with around 80 of the high school girls involved with Girls Inc. They participate in the “Externship”, in which Girls Inc sets each girl up with an internship and provides mentors and workshops to teach girls essentials such as interview prep, resume help, as well as money to buy work clothes. We got to help girls with their resumes and teach them what to do and what not to do in interviews. I loved getting to work with the girls one-on-one and giving them tips, but my favorite part of the day was when they started asking us about Duke and college. Girls Inc gave us a lot of freedom in what we talked about, and as soon as one girl asked us questions many more joined. I talked about what the college search is like, what I did when visiting schools, and why I applied to Duke. The girls in the program are incredibly smart and accomplished, most of their resumes are already as long as mine is right now, and they are set on going to college. We even met a girl who is planning on visiting Duke in August!
On Saturday Girls Inc had their annual Family Fun Fest, which is an event for all the girls who are attending Eureka camp and their families. We spent all day Friday preparing, which was hard work but ultimately very much worth it. We all got to interact with the girls we will actually be teaching and working with this summer. I was stationed at the “Friendly Peer” table, where the girls learned about good and bad stress and identified areas of stress in their lives as well as the ways that they cope with them. Many girls offered similar solutions such as playing a sport, listening to music, or being with friends and family. We played ice breakers with them and watched them start to form friendships with their new peers.
This week was filled with work that made me nervous at first. I wasn’t sure if I could give advice for resumes and interviews that the girls would be able to use, and I was worried about making a good impression at Family Fun Fest. What I realized is that these girls are already so capable of doing so much, that a lot of what they need is encouragement and confidence from others that what they are doing is right. Most of Tuesday involved me giving tips about spacing and font, not about the content. At Family Fun Fest the girls wanted to know that they were going to have fun at camp, and that they would be learning interesting things. This week taught me that my job at camp is not as much teaching as it is facilitating. These girls already know how to code, design concepts, and work with each other, I am just there to make sure that everyone is involved and that they are having fun.