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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Intern Lessons Learned: From Finish to Start

It has been a busy month in the lives of Book Harvest’s interns! Below are two reflections: the first from academic year intern Sara Morris as she reflects on the time she spent with us, and the second from summer intern Chandler Rock at the end of her first week as she begins her time here.

Beginning at the end…


7 Lessons I learned as a Book Harvest Intern, by Sara Morris

  1. Reading connects people.

With a name like Book Harvest, you get all kinds of people coming in to see what we’re about. On a weekly basis, there are always a handful of people who come in thinking we’re a used bookstore. But when they hear what we do, their eyes light up. I like to think that people who like to read are a unique community of their own. Readers like to do whatever they can to help fellow readers, especially if those fellow readers are children.

  1. For some reason, no one at Book Harvest likes orange jelly beans.

Around Easter there was a big bowl of jelly beans on the volunteer table. After about a week of everyone grabbing a handful as they passed by, the only jelly beans left were licorice and orange. I think we all know why licorice was left – let’s be honest with ourselves. But what is your issue with orange jelly beans? Daniele? Rachel? Ginger? Charlia? Meytal? Kenitra? Carolina? Volunteers?

  1. Durham is an incredibly supportive community.

I remember one Tuesday morning in the fall, I was working at Book Harvest and was just feeling overwhelmed by life that day. As I sat at the front desk, a mother and her elementary aged son came in. The little boy was beaming and carried a huge box of books. He looked at me and told me he had just turned 9, and in lieu of gifts for his birthday party, he has asked his friends to bring books to donate.

Moments like these happen often at Book Harvest, and they always had a way of taking me out of myself. There’s this quote that I often find myself coming back to that says, “If you’re ever in a place where your biggest worry is yourself, you’ve got to get out of there.” Book Harvest always had a way of getting me out of there.

  1. If you want to get people excited about something, give them matching baseball caps.

One of the coolest events that Book Harvest does is the Dream Big Book Drive on MLK day each year. This year it was at Durham Central Park downtown. Hundreds of people came by to donate books and dozens of volunteers came to have a huge outdoor book sort. As volunteers, we all got matching white baseball caps that said, “Dream Big Book Drive.” It was 18 degrees outside, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more motivated group of people, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to wear a white baseball cap.

  1. Q Shack’s salads really aren’t salads at all.

Across the street from Book Harvest is a restaurant called Q Shack, and if you haven’t been there, you should. They have incredible barbecue but my favorite thing to get is a “salad” that Daniele introduced me. But plot twist, it’s really not a salad at all. It’s meat, egg, cheese, tomato, and avocado, but it’s all over lettuce so it’s a salad, right? It’s like when you eat a chocolate muffin for breakfast, and it’s basically cake but if you call it a muffin you can eat it for breakfast. Same principle.

  1. Kids love books.

Whenever I would start to forget why Book Harvest does what they do, it wasn’t long before I was reminded. Kids love books. One day in April a little girl came in with her dad and younger sister. She was eager to find Diary of a Wimpy Kid and seemed to know exactly what she was doing. When we asked her how she found out about Book Harvest, she said that she had received a paper about it at school, brought it home to her dad, and asked him to take her there. Kids love books.

  1. Love above all else.

The thing that I’ve come to realize unites Book Harvest more than anything is love. Love for Durham. Love for reading. Love for children. Love for each other. Love above all else.


And ending at the beginning…

One Down, Nine to Go, by Chandler Rock

This month, I was stunned by the invitation to my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary, because I thought they were still spring chickens. In my own timeline of events, I don’t think it’ll hit me that I have finally graduated college until I don’t go back to school in the fall! Not every life event makes me freeze in my tracks as Beyoncé’s release of Lemonade did, but likewise, this Tuesday served as the one-week mark of my ten-week internship here at Book Harvest. What? How did we get here?

By the looks of this narrative, apparently I am easily startled. What does not surprise me, however, is that this week has flown by because of the people that have filled it.

The excitement of this week has been raised by the sons of our Book Babies team leader who made my Community Book Bank preparations more easy and fun by turning it into a game with me; the shy first-grader who lit up at the sight of books in his native language of Spanish; the 3rd grader whose jaw dropped once he realized that he was in the presence local celebrity Kelly Starling Lyons when she and her son volunteered at Books on Break; and finally, but not exhaustively, the kindergartner who got over her stage fright and rocked out on the tambourine during the Book Babies celebration this Saturday.

It’s not just the adorable kids, though. It’s also been my leaders on staff at the Book Harvest that have taught me and entrusted me with so much already. It’s the moms who make the trek with their kids after work to stock up on books and spend time with us in our office. It’s the librarians and principals who have prepared so hard for our marathon book donations this time of year. It’s the rising high-schooler who refused presents and instead asked her friends to bring Book Harvest donations to her birthday party. It is this whole village who is showing up to ensure that each child in Durham is the proud owner of a beautiful library.

So maybe I’m not shocked, just in denial that there will quickly come a time in which I don’t get to hang out here all day, every day. But when that time comes, I’ll find excuses to come back—serve on a community, host a book drive, volunteer during a desk shift, come sort books, or show up for the Dream Big and Books on Break events. But until then, I’ll keep enjoying life’s surprises.


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