After 10 weeks, a 3,760-mile trek to the United Kingdom, and dozens of volunteer hours at home and abroad, 15 Duke students are reflecting on their completed DukeEngage Durham journey.
DukeEngage Durham is an immersive summer program that teaches Duke students about community and economic development in the sister cities of Durham, N.C. and Durham, England. Students volunteered with local Durham organizations such as The Scrap Exchange and Durham Literacy Center while also taking the time to experience the Durham Farmers Market, a Durham Bulls game, and more.
In Durham, U.K., students visited museums, castles and cathedrals as well as volunteered with local resource centers and service organizations.
Five DukeEngage Durham students share their favorite moments from this summer’s program:
BEAU BLASS: My favorite memory from our program was facilitating “America Day” in the World Cafe during my placement at Waddington Street Centre (an independent, mental health resource center in Durham, U.K.). Although none of us had much experience cooking, our food far exceeded my expectations and the members seemed to enjoy learning more about our culture. For our “America Day,” we prepared barbecue chicken, broccoli salad, wild rice and corn bread.
Waddington Street Centre aims to support this disadvantaged community by providing avenues for personal development, social interaction, and supported recovery while combatting stigma and discrimination. These services include an education program with courses ranging from art to technology, health training that promotes physical activity along with overall wellbeing, and supported housing for those who need assistance acquiring a place to live.
VISHNU GOTTIPARTHY: My favorite experience would be visiting the Durham Castle. It was wonderful to see such an ancient building, especially since it was also still being used to host events and even as a dorm for students during term time. The building is nearly a thousand years old, making it far older than anything we have in the US.
TIFF JIANG: One of my favorite memories of being here was simply being on a walk with some of the Ethicare clients who have learning disabilities because they were so incredibly excited to spend time with us and hear what we had to say, as well as speak themselves. (Ethicare offers day support and living services to adults age 18 or older who have a learning disability in Durham, U.K.)
GRACE MOK: This summer, I worked quite closely with Janet Xiao, co-director of the Community Empowerment Fund, in planning the Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable– a community discussion about affordable housing. To take minutes and learn about the content and main actors, I often attended meetings with Janet. At one meeting, I watched her skillfully facilitate a meeting with many different nonprofits and many opinions that easily could have been derailed. But Janet was able to accurately listen and unobtrusively guide the conversation to a productive path. It was magical and has gotten me interested in attending trainings in meeting facilitation and active listening.
ALEX YANG: I loved all of the opportunities in which we at Team Durham in the U.K. got to be active and outside when working with clients. (Team Durham coordinates sports programs in Durham, U.K. schools as well as with community organizations and for underrepresented individuals.) The mission of community outreach through sport resonated particularly clearly last week when a few of us played American football with members of Waddington Street Centre (an independent, mental health resource center in Durham, U.K.). Even as the English showers that we’ve come to expect began to sprinkle on us, the atmosphere on the field remained carefree and vibrant. Sharing football with English friends seems a rather glaring metaphor for our DukeEngage experience, but it is particularly meaningful to me nonetheless.