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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

A farewell story from Emma, our summer intern

Editor’s note: we said goodbye last week to our summer intern, Emma Dieterle, as she headed off to her freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Here’s her final reflection on her time with us this summer, in her own words.

By Emma Dieterle, Book Harvest summer intern

My time at Book Harvest as a summer intern has come to an end, and to commemorate this wonderful experience I would like to share a mission moment. Throughout my time here, I have discovered and picked up the various routines that are a way of life with the Book Harvest staff. One routine is something that the staff does regularly, and something I think is very important; reciting mission moments. Mission moments are moments throughout the week or month that encapsulate what we feel completes or illustrates the Book Harvest mission. Here is mine:

One Thursday morning, I had the privilege to join in on a Wash & Learn story time. It was ten in the morning and I was already sweating, the North Carolina heat killing me as I waited in my car for Niccolo, the story time leader, to arrive. I watched the door of the laundromat as I waited, observing the people going about their day in perfect harmony. There was an old couple walking about the door pulling a laundry cart, an old man folding clothes inside his parked car sweating buckets just as I was. Inside I could see the various men and women working the washing machines, the kids watching the television playing cartoons, and one old lady struggling with the vending machine in the corner.

I notice Niccolo pull up and start pulling various boxes out of the trunk of his car. As if I was waiting for my cue, I jumped out of the car and walked up behind him. Picking up a box from the ground, I introduce myself with a smile that was returned as soon as it was given. We trod inside and head towards a corner of the laundromat comprised of two colorful bookshelves and a miniature table with chairs placed on top of a circular rug. We place our boxes along the wall with the bookshelves, turning our back for a second, and upon my reexamination of the layout, I notice there is already a kid sitting at the table, holding a book and smiling up at us expectantly. My heart flips as I realize the level his excitement, and I follow Niccolo’s lead of sitting down in one of the miniature chairs at the miniature table that is not big enough to fit my legs underneath.

“Hey David,” Niccolo starts. “It’s good to see you today.”

David looks up at Niccolo in a reserved, shy, little cute child way and responds with a simple “Hi” complete with a gap-toothed smile.

As Niccolo scrummages through one of the boxes for a good book to read, David and I are left blinking at each other.

“Hi David! I’m Emma, I’ll be reading with you today,” I mustered up the biggest and grandest smile I could at ten on a Thursday morning. I asked him how old he was. He was six. I asked him what school he went to. He goes to East Wake. I asked what his favorite book was. He responded with Dogman. My heart was filled with warmth as I watched this kid open up about the books he loves to read. His eyes were glazed and he was looking off into the distance as if he could imagine himself in the worlds he was describing. I remember when I was that entranced by the magic of reading. Of letting my imagination totally take me to another dimension where I was in command of my story, and I had the power to change it.

Niccolo had found a book for us to read and presented it to David. Before reading, we got out paper and crayons and drew various illustrations from the book. David eventually got tired of that and just wanted to read. As Niccolo started reading, David followed along tremendously. It got to the point where Niccolo stopped reading so David could take over. He read the entire book! I was taken aback by his ability to read almost flawlessly, blowing my first-grade-self out of the water. I was beyond impressed by not only his ability, but his early love for reading. Upon Niccolo conversing with David’s mother, who had finished her laundry and was sitting there waiting for the hour to finish, he found out that David is a Book Baby!

That explains his love for reading and advanced reading ability. Seeing for myself how our Book Harvest program has created such a positive impact on this boy’s life was humbling. The gigantic difference between children who gain a love for books before entering school to give them a good head start to the advancement of their education versus those who do not read before heading to school is noticeable. Thank you, Book Harvest, for all of your work in providing the Durham community and eventually the North Carolinian community with programs that advance early childhood learning and support for the better.

This summer with Book Harvest has been a whirlwind of new experiences, excitement, and a lot of reading!! I am so thankful for the staff who have accepted and welcomed me this summer with open arms and big smiles. Being a girl just beginning my professional life, learning about the inner workings of a non-profit run entirely by women has been so inspiring. Thank you everyone who made this summer special, but especially to Caitlyn, who recruited me to be an intern and truly shaped the experience.

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