Annie, Kevin Ma, Chirs, Tracy, Christine, Daniel, Coralie, Anna, Kevin Mauro, Maddy, Jim,
Diana, Dani, Nick, Victoria, Nicole…
It has been a pleasure to journey with each of you this summer.
With efficiency and production, we packed tons of Northwest Harvest rice.
Mike O’Brien, Lisa Fitzhugh, and Heidi Breeze-Harris gave us career and creativity advice.
Trail path cleared at Denny Creek.
Community partners, alumni, and mayoral candidates we greet.
Nailing, sawing, and precision went into the construction of a fence.
Cheering for the Sounders with suspense.
Hiking, poker, and Scotch Broom removal at Pack Forest.
You are group who gets little rest.
You now leave Seattle and the Northwest.
A place filled with the histories of the Japanese Americans, Suquamish, and many other groups who have been/are oppressed.
Immigrants, youth, low-income, young adults, children without families, people with varying abilities, the sick and unhealthy…these are the people you served alongside and with.
Let me end with one of the ten sentence stories you created during our visit to the International District,
“Life is one continuous meal with many long breaks.”
Let us enjoy our last meal together, and prepare for a short break before your next meal with your families and with each other back at Duke.
Here's to DukeEngage Seattle!
Seattle Site Coordinator
As part of the DukeEngage program, we are required to hold reflections sessions once a week for 90 minutes. At first glance, reflection sessions sound really boring. For me, they became progressively more boring the more I anticipated them. But now, as I reflect upon reflection sessions before tonight’s final reflection (say that three times fast!), I would like to make a few statements regarding reflection sessions that I did not initially realize:
“Reflecting” does not feed hungry people. It creates service-minded human beings. Beneath its catastrophically boring outer shell, reflection sessions have a thoughtfully chewy, long-lasting flavor. Through absorbing the tales of my colleagues, I’ve learned about white privilege, the mindsets of the lower class, and the hidden struggles that normal-looking citizens suffer on a daily basis. However, the real value in reflection sessions comes from connecting service-lessons between my peer’s service work and my own service work. I consider these "service-lessons" applicable to all types of service, and will be very translatable to future service work I pursue. Some of the service-lessons that I’ve found my peers and I share are: The people we serve often do not understand the intentions of our work, it can be difficult to relate to co-workers who have lived in these communities their whole lives, and some non-profits are inefficient in their delivery of services. (Thankfully, the latter doesn’t apply to Northwest Harvest!) A significant portion of my DukeEngage experience was marred by viewing this trip as an opportunity to make a lasting impact in our host communities (despite being forewarned by ServeSmart of inevitable disappointment). In reality, though I doubt anyone associated with DukeEngage would put it this way, I believe the real point of reflection sessions, and this entire 8-week stint, is for us (as college students) to grow and develop into caring, philanthropic, service-minded human beings. Through the service-lessons I've learned here, I can now generalize my Northwest Harvest experience to other service-based endeavors that I may take on in the future.
As DukeEngage comes to a close, I can’t believe how time just flew by. I realize that I can’t do this experience nearly enough justice by writing a blog post, but here’s to trying.
It would be wrong of me to not praise the people I’ve met. In my first blog post, I wrote about how Seattle seemed to be a city for “people people.” I believe I have become a “people person.” I started by connecting with my fellow DukeEngage Interns, and I have learned to branch out and reach out to others. For our last weekend (L), we went to Bainbridge Island and had the special opportunity to learn about the Japanese Americans who were torn from their homes, neighbors, and friends to be sent to internment camps for up to 3 years. Four incredibly strong people came to speak with us and share their unbelievable stories of being ripped from society in the 1940s. I could not get enough of this rich history, a period in American history people rarely bring up, if at all. My experiences with DukeEngage have taught me to listen, absorb, analyze, inquire, and learn. All of the people I have met, from Duke alumni to Northwest Harvest volunteers, have imparted unto me some new wisdom that I did not have before.
Although I am excited to get back to Duke and share my experience, it will be hard to compare Durham to the wonders of this city. From attending the SAM Remix event at Olympic Sculpture Park to hiking the falls of the Pack Forest, DukeEngage Seattle has been an unbelievable ride. Sometimes I feel like I blinked and missed it, but I know for sure these memories will last a lifetime. Thank you, Duke!
I am the first to admit that at times I can be a bit soft-spoken. I’m definitely not scared to speak my mind, but I also appreciate stepping back and taking in the experiences and discussions that surround me. I’m just not one to raise my voice, but sometimes that is exactly what you need to do. Some situations require you to get angry, get vocal, and get loud. So working in community organizing and attending various rallies and events during my time at OneAmerica has required me to step out of my shell a bit and learn to utilize my voice and truly put power behind it.
One event in particular that I attended with OneAmerica pushed me to scream and to chant and to lend my voice to a group of protestors so that collectively we would be heard. I went downtown to Westlake Park with some co-workers to attend a protest against wage-theft. After getting pumped up with the help of a speech by one of the amazing community organizers in our office, Rahwa, we joined a march around the 4th and Pine intersection (a particularly busy place for cars, buses and pedestrians) and eventually made our way to protest in front of McDonald’s, one of the worst offenders of wage-theft and low wages in general. All the while I yelled and chanted and, for once, let myself get loud without second-guessing myself. When you truly have a message and a cause getting loud isn’t so scary. It is a natural and necessary response to oppression and inequality. Anger and frustration are important emotions that put weight behind actions that can and should inform opinions and even policy. I’m very thankful to OneAmerica for giving me experiences like this one and allowing me the opportunity to explore and balance both my logical work-oriented side and my passionate (and yes sometimes even loud) side.
Time has seriously moved so fast. I can’t believe I have only a little more than a week left in Seattle and that in two weeks I’ll be back in Durham. The thought of taking classes and studying again seems so weird after spending the summer here and becoming so comfortable with the routine I’ve established out here and invested in the organization that I’m working for. I’ve really become accustomed to the daily interactions and dynamics of the DukeEngage group and people that I work with. I feel like it’s going to be extremely difficult to leave and go back home and transition back into school after this experience. I think for Nick and I, that realization that our time in Seattle is coming to an end is extremely daunting because I feel like there are so many more things we want to do at the Austin Foundation to ensure that it has a future and that the organization can be sustainable and continue to serve the youth in the community. It feels like as the program comes to and end, we are discovering increasingly more tasks and ideas that we want to develop and complete to make sure that the summer program ends on a good note and that all of our junior trainers take something positive and have grown in some way from their experiences in the program this summer.
I think that overall, we just really want to work hard in our remaining time to make sure that everything we have developed this summer can be used to help the program in future summers so that there is a foundation that is easy to follow. Our hope is that the Austin Foundation will find a way to find funding and sustain itself into the future. The thought of leaving Seattle before that happens is going to be tough, but I know that I will never forget my DukeEngage experience and the relationships that were formed.
Duke Student '15
I have no idea how we are already living the final week and a half of our DukeEngage experience. It seems like just yesterday I was opening the acceptance letter and eagerly awaiting the summer ahead in Seattle. Since we have an upcoming transition back to “normal” life (that is, if you consider being a student normal), I have compiled a short list of differences between Seattle and Durham.
1. The bus system is more user-friendly and timely in Durham, and we only have to keep track of the C-1 ,C-2, and C-3 buses, versus the million in Seattle.
2. Coffee at Duke is not coffee, sorry ABP.
3. Weather in Seattle is magical. I can run in the morning and it’s still about 60 degrees outside. Running in 90 degree humidity in Durham will be a serious wake-up call.
4. Only sushi in Seattle tastes like it comes straight from the ocean.
5. Plastic bags exist in Durham—and we no longer will have to pay 5 cents for a paper bag.
Though this is minimal and refers only to lifestyle changes, I am for sure going to miss working with Seattle Works. The staff clicks professionally and on a friendly basis, which is important for growth-especially within the nonprofit sector. Bevin, Tara, Andy, Katie, Ben, Irina, and Tomilyn have helped me gain valuable experience in teamwork and communication and I can’t thank them enough (I ask endless questions). Transitioning back into student life is imminent, but this DukeEngage experience in Seattle will stick with me for a VERY long time.
Duke Student '16
In my Why DukeEngage Seattle
essay, I quoted a friend who gave me a glimpse into his yearlong stay in the Emerald City. He described Seattle as a city where “rain becomes a quiet companion in the Pacific Northwest, where down-to-earth is the only direction, and innovation springs from every local coffee shop.” I didn’t really give much thought to those words at the time. Looking back now, Seattle has been that, but so much more to me. I’m really not even sure how to begin describing my Seattle experience, because so much has happened in the short time we’ve been here. Watching fireworks from Gas Works Park, hiking in Pack Forest, and dancing to Dillon Francis at Capitol Hill Block Party are just a few highlights.
Those experiences aren’t even the best part of my time in Seattle though. My work this summer has been incredibly rewarding and given me a reason to stay here. I am interning with a non-profit called Year Up Puget Sound. We have a yearlong program where students spend six months in the classroom and six months at an internship. The idea behind our name is to give our students a "year up” by teaching them the hard and soft skills needed to gain better career opportunities after they graduate from our program.
My time at Year Up has been such a blessing. I work in the Devo department (pronounced DEE-voh, short for development) with a team of four awesome ladies: Ali, Janice, Dannielle, and Liz. I’ve learned so much from each of them, but especially from my supervisor Janice. She’s so on top of everything and amazing at delegating tasks to our team, so I’ve really been trying to learn by example. I'm always busy, but never bored. My main responsibility as an intern is to help plan events and manage logistics, but my tasks have also ranged from mail merging to making a video for our first Volunteer Appreciation event.
It's been six weeks already, but I still feel like there's still so much to learn and still so much to do.
The best Devo team: Janice, Dannielle, Liz, Christine
The cafe in Capitol Hill where I wrote this blog.
Duke Student '15
We had our huge graduation event this Thursday at Benaroya Hall and it was a huge success! Devo and the rest of staff have been preparing for graduation for months and all the work finally paid off. I’m so happy to have been a part of it all. Here are some pictures from the event.