Chris Prodracky and Victoria Chang at Seattle Youth Garden Works farm stand at the Wallingford Farmer's Market.
For the past two weeks I’ve been working for Seattle Youth Garden Works, a program administered by Seattle Tilth that seeks to educate and empower underserved youth by employing them on a farm. I spend two days a week in Seattle Tilth’s office in Wallingford (a neighborhood right next to the U-District that’s relatively quiet, at least in comparison to the downtown area where a lot of the other Duke Engage students work) doing administrative tasks, running errands, and helping out at the nearby farmer’s market. On the other three days, I pass the urban artwork above as I walk to our farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture in the U-District.

It’s been a great experience so far. The staff have been really helpful in getting me settled in, and the youth that I work with have been very inclusive, even going so far as to insist that I partake in their weekly reflection sessions with them. It’s a wonderful group of people, which makes getting up to try to do good things with them each morning a whole lot easier.

In another sense, though, the fact that they’re so pleasant makes my job harder. I find that I’m constantly questioning myself: Am I doing a good enough job doing good things? My time here is limited, and I want to do as much as I can. Yet often times when I’m considering ways to do more, I find myself coming face to face with some very difficult, fundamental issues. Poverty, and the whole slew of social issues that come with it, is a prime example. Entire societies spend years trying to remedy it, with varying degrees of success, so what can I, an individual with two months, hope to accomplish?

Encountering these impossible problems can be frustrating. But if that frustration can be channeled into something useful, like motivation or volition, some good could come of it. That’s a personal goal of mine for the next six weeks. I’ll check back in at some point and let you know how it’s going.

Chris Podrachy
Duke Student '15


07/12/2013 3:35pm

Chris, I appreciate your reflection on your self-doubt. I think that it is something most of us are running into as we realize how short our time here really is. I also think that a healthy dose of critical reflection can be useful. Your question "Am I doing a good enough job doing good?" is an important thing to ask because service needs to go beyond good intentions to be effective. I think just the fact that you are reflecting on questions like this one means that your time here has already been productive because you have recognized the larger picture and will be able to take that away with you.


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