Madeline Wilkerson

It’s the last night of summer camp.

I’ve spent the last few days feeling like I’m in a blitz – do this, do that, get someone to do this, no you can’t run away while everyone is dancing, why aren’t you writing your daily journal, stop ripping each other’s papers to shreds, when do we get a break – and now that we’re here, I kind of wish we had another day.

My class is great. I’m sure every volunteer must say that about his or her class, but I’m sure of it. My kids are very hardworking and very caring. If someone feels sick, they sit with that person until they feel better. No one is ever left behind. I know it’s only been a few days, but I feel as though all of us – teachers, volunteers, students – have become close. I call it the Class 7-5 family.

And then tomorrow it’ll all be gone. We’ll take down the decorations, clean the classroom, bid the kids farewell. Then what will happen?

In the fall, they’ll start seventh grade. Not all of them will be in Class 7-5. They’ll be in different classes, hanging out with different people, not in the same little groups. Maybe they’ll forget about us. Maybe they’ll forget about each other. Maybe they’ll forget their English names. I hope they won’t.

Next year the next DukeEngage group will come. My kids will be in their classes. I hope they’ll look at them and see the sweet kids beneath, the kids that wrote about homesickness and health problems, the kids that wrote us kind letters, the kids that held each other’s hands.

I hope my students will succeed, that they’ll enter the careers they were meant for. I hope one day I’ll get to see them again. I’ll poke them on the nose. I’ll ask them when they got so big. I’ll tell them how much I missed them.

Just a short time I’ve known them: ten days only, a fraction of their lives. I know I’ll remember them for longer, though. Ten days upon ten days upon ten days.

In summer camp, I’ve learned to handle stress. I’ve learned to connect across language barriers. I’ve learned to memorize 25 names in a day. And most of all, I’ve learned that I want to come back to Dandelion when I graduate, and I can’t wait to see my students again.



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