Saying Goodbye

Alicia Steiman

Throughout middle and high school, I looked up to my teachers more than anyone else. I wanted their praise and approval. I wanted to impress them with my work. I wanted to know that they noticed me. So when the end of the year inevitably rolled around, I always had my teachers sign my yearbook. I didn’t want to let go of teachers I built a relationship with, and I wanted their kind words of wisdom before I left one year behind and embarked on a new one. At Eureka-thon this past Friday, however, the roles were reversed. I was now the teacher who had to say goodbye to her students.

The girls brought their yearbooks over to me, eager to see what I would write. I thought about the joy, passion, energy, and light that each girl brought to both class and to camp. I wrote personalized messages for every girl not because I thought I should, but because I wanted to. I wanted the girls to know that I valued what they contributed to class. I wanted to encourage the girls to continue being strong, smart, and bold. I wanted the girls to know that I was so inspired by their kind personalities, warm hearts, willingness to learn, and ability to succeed. It wasn’t until camp ended that I realized how much of an impact the girls made on my life, and I hoped that I was able to do the same through my interactions with them. Eureka-thon was my final goodbye to the girls; after spending nine hours a day together, I would never see these girls again.

Over four weeks, I taught STEM lessons focused on engineering, water scarcity, robots, and crime scene investigation. I also acted as support in three Girls Inc. curriculum classes and participated in enrichment activities such as salsa dancing, chess, and swimming. I improved on my classroom management skills, learned how to take a step back as a co-facilitator, and built positive relationships with the girls. I took the time to get to know my students on a personal level by asking questions about their weeks, interests, and backgrounds. Now that camp has ended, I want to take what I have learned and apply it to the new semester at Duke. My perspective on the world has grown and my confidence has increased through my role at camp. When I return home, I plan to use my experiences at Eureka! to continue the mission of Girls Inc. and make it the most successful year yet.

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