Dear DUR,

We’ve only known each other for a month, but this month has simultaneously been the shortest and longest month I have ever experienced. 30 days ago, I had no idea how this relationship was going to work, with all of your complicated intricacies, but I’m elated that I had the opportunity to be with you for the time I did. Spending this time with 11 other incredibly talented St. Olaf students has been a fantastic experience, and believe me when I say, I learned far more than I thought I would, both from you and from my peers.

You’ve taught me so many things, from what GIS is and how I’m supposed to use it, to how to navigate and decipher the tiny handwriting within census documents. You and Beth Christensen taught me how to research effectively, helping Izzy and me find seemingly insignificant tidbits of information and celebrating with us when we’ve found them (we’ve designated each other as “Research Queens”, by the way). These are just some of the many things I never thought I would do during our time together, and from working in small groups to working as a cohesive team, so many things were accomplished in this month. We have extraordinary maps with data that we collected and cleaned. Our end product far surpassed anything I thought we would be able to accomplish in such a short period of time, and I am teeming with excitement over what people will be able to do with our collective research.

But along with all of this joy, you’ve also taught me sadness. You’ve helped me understand what it is like to feel defeated, helping me stop (or at least pause) my pursuit of information I won’t be able to find during our month together. You and Dr. Epstein taught me to take breaks and not to stretch myself too thin. Aside from research, thanks to you, I now know what it feels like to sit in the library for hours upon hours blindly grabbing for more words to add to my blog posts. I now know what it is like to mindlessly comb through hundreds of data points, making sure everything looks as it should.

I know it is cliché, but it is true when they say all good things must come to an end. Once I leave, I know you’ll be able to move on with others who will do more research than I could have ever done on my own. The next set of students will take you to places I never could in my amount of time, and I wish them the best of luck in all of their endeavors. My short glimpse into the world of Harry Burleigh has proved itself fruitful—not only for me, but for everyone involved.

By tomorrow morning, all of our information will be accessible and (hopefully) bug-free for the St. Olaf community and the internet to see. All of the work we’ve accomplished will be visible, which is both the scariest and the best thing to have happen all month. I’m not sure I’m ready for this relationship to end, but after a month of intense work, I think this break is for the best.


Until next time,