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 peopleIt 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.

Kevin Mauro
Duke Student 

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