What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?
It’s a summery Monday morning, but instead of sleeping in, I’m outside of a museum, doing a hearty jig in a banana costume. I throw my hands in the air; I sing along to the music; I kick my feet in what I think is a shuffle. Strangers pass by and look at me as if I’m a loon.
Campers walk up to me at various speeds. Some are eager to high five the dancing banana, but most hide behind their parents. The small number who grin and laugh encourage me to be louder, to dance harder than before. I replicate the sprinkler, the soulja boy, and the dougie, all while greeting campers and their somewhat bemused and baffled parents as they walk through the museum doors.
My summer experience is a unique one. On paper, I’m an assistant teacher at a full day camp for fourth through eighth graders; I help program Lego Robots, build Google Cardboard headsets, and 3D print the campers’ creations. In person, I am a girl in a fruit suit; in addition to instructing classes, I tell produce puns and sing campy sing-along songs. I am instantly recognizable, not known by my real name, but simply Banana Girl. I’ve become bolder and brighter, a banana, and a little bananas.
The costume isn’t a part of the job description, but I’ve chosen to put it on anyway, a strange decision for a girl who can’t present in front of a class without shaking. The odd looks and stifled snickers are discouraging at first, but I learn to ignore it. The suit has made for a funnier camp experience for staffers and campers–the moments of embarrassment and self consciousness are worth the number of laughs and smiles that I’ve inspired. So I continue to sing at the top of my lungs and dance like a madman, venturing far beyond my comfort zone, the most dedicated banana this camp has ever seen.