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Swapping Coasts for the Summer

Kelsi King

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t listen to “Hotel California” on repeat on the flight here. As a New York native I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when we touched down, but I was excited, nonetheless. I had practically spent every single summer of my life on the east coast, and was anxious to see what, and who, I would encounter once I swapped coasts. To my surprise the weather was relatively chilly, the sky was cloudy, and it constantly looked like it was about to pour at any second. I soon learned that the locals referred to this phenomenon as “June gloom.”  Despite the mildly inclement weather, the group dynamic was far from gloomy. The seven strangers I met at John Wayne Airport quickly became people I could have candid conversations with about topics that ranged from gender inequality in the workforce to how to craft the perfect Zumba routine. Needless to say, I was certain we would all become great friends. In years past, every Orange County DukeEngager works with Girls Inc. and Eureka! to run a four-week summer enrichment program packed with STEM related activities and experiments. However, I would not be following in these footsteps. I opted to work with a separate nonprofit, Global G.L.O.W., and in doing so I separated myself from the DEOC cohort. I felt a smidge of separation anxiety when the work week began however, my uneasiness dissipated the minute I met with the program manager/my boss for the summer. She was easygoing without being too carefree and made it very clear that she had a vision for this summer and was going to do everything in her power to make Global G.L.O.W. the best it could be. She also inadvertently taught me that “rad” was a key component to SoCal vernacular. To put the cherry on top of an already sweet week, Duke alumni in the area were kind enough to have the DEOC group over for dinner and served us a delicious homecooked meal and invited guests who spoke to us about the impact of our work this summer and the importance of equity in education. Being surrounded by such intelligent and motivated women made me feel empowered and, I can only imagine what the rest of this Summer has in store.

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