Learn about Durham’s economic revolution and its shift from tobacco and textiles to technology and medicine.
Study gentrification and the dynamics of neighborhood change.
Attend the Durham Farmers Market and a Durham Bulls baseball game.
Serve as a volunteer with the City of Durham’s YouthWork Internship Program, which places Durham youth into summer internships.
Travel abroad to volunteer in Durham, England, and live at Durham University, one of the oldest higher education institutions in the country, for four weeks.
These are just snippets of everything Duke rising sophomore Chunxiao Gao will get to experience this summer through DukeEngage Durham, an immersive, 10-week service program that teaches Duke students about community and economic development in the sister cities of Durham, N.C. and Durham, England. Through the program, students will serve as full-time volunteers with nonprofit and government organizations in both cities as well as participate in historical and neighborhood tours, enrichment excursions, and weekly reflection sessions.
Gao, who is studying economics and taking statistics classes, said she applied to DukeEngage Durham because she wants to venture outside of her “tiny bubble” on Duke’s campus and use her math skills to help address economic challenges in the community.
“(DukeEngage Durham) really interested me because it’s applying economics and business into community service,” Gao said. “I feel living at Duke is very different from living in Durham. Being on campus will all the work and academic stuff, you rarely get time to get off campus and get involved. I want to do something to get more involved.”
DukeEngage offers dozens of summer programs domestically and abroad, but DukeEngage Durham is the only program located in Duke’s home city. DukeEngage Durham was one of the first pilot programs offered through DukeEngage, starting in 2007, and expanded to include the international travel component to England in 2013.
Duke undergraduate students have to apply and be accepted into the DukeEngage Durham program, and 31 students applied this year. Fifteen, including Gao, have been chosen and will receive full funding through Duke to participate in the service experience.
“I look for a genuine interest in Durham and a genuine interest in community service and civic engagement,” said Domoniqúe Redmond, DukeEngage Durham’s program co-director and assistant director for programs for the Duke Community Service Center, about Duke student applicants. “I look for sustained service, someone who has been volunteering consistently over the years.”
The program this year runs May 30 through August 5, with students spending six weeks living on Duke’s East Campus and then four weeks in Durham, England, and is organized by the Duke Community Service Center in collaboration with Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs’ Sam Miglarese, who serves as program co-director for DukeEngage Durham, and DukeEngage.
“We don’t need to look far outside the campus to find communities that can benefit from working with Duke students and teaching Duke students,” said Eric Mlyn, the Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage. “In the end, I’ve learned that students deeply appreciate the diversity and rich community that Duke is surrounded by, and that’s a huge benefit.”
Connor Dean, a rising evolutionary anthropology junior at Duke, is also participating in DukeEngage Durham this summer. Volunteerism used to be a big part of his high school student experience in Greensboro, where he tutored children of refugees at a community center.
Through DukeEngage, he is reconnecting with volunteerism by serving for six weeks at the Durham Literacy Center, where he will tutor youth and adults studying for the GED high school equivalency test. He also plans to create a webpage of community resources that can be accessed by Durham Literacy Center members working to improve their literacy skills.
“I’m most excited about being able to leave the Durham Literacy Center after the six weeks and show that I’ve kind of made an impact there,” Dean said. “I’m talking to them about potentially coming back in the fall. You can create friendships and partnerships with the organizations you’re working with.”
Learn more about DukeEngage by visiting dukeengage.duke.edu.