Hey everyone! I’m excited to be able to share with you a little bit about my first two weeks getting immersed in the Duke Engage program here in Durham, NC.
As a rising senior, I knew that I wanted to participate in a Duke Engage program during my last summer of college. Having had numerous friends participate in summers past, I’ve heard countless stories of all of the rewarding, exciting, and meaningful experiences that Duke Engage has to offer. On top of that, my internship experience last summer was far from rewarding or meaningful (think: getting coffee and filing papers). Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get back to Durham this summer, meet my Duke Engage group, start my job, and make the most of this experience!
As I headed to work on my first day, I was nervous about what to expect. I had never worked at a nonprofit before–would I have enough to do? Would I be filing papers again? Or would my workload be overwhelming, stressful, and impossible to complete? On top of that, I was nervous about my placement in particular. I was going to spend the summer working at Families Moving Forward, a temporary shelter for families facing the crisis of homelessness. The residents at the shelter are in incredibly difficult situations. I almost felt guilty on my first day driving to work in my own car, with clean new clothes, coming from a warm apartment, to work with parents and children who had never had any of that.
Turns out, though, that my job is great. My main responsibility is creating a summer camp program for some of the teenage residents this summer to teach them about financial literacy. I’ve spent the first two weeks, along with a fellow intern, brainstorming games, field trips, and activities for the kids. We’ve planned the curriculum down to the hour, wanting to ensure that the kids will constantly be entertained and having fun. I’ve had an incredible amount of autonomy–it’s really up to the two of us interns to plan what we want and what we think will be useful and fun. Being trusted with this work makes me feel useful, needed, and that I’m making a difference.
For now, we are eagerly awaiting the start of camp. Kids will start next week, once they get out of school. We’re working hard trying to finalize our activities and reaching out to restaurants and churches for lunch donations. I’m really happy to be a part of a meaningful program this summer, and I’m thankful that Duke Engage has given me this opportunity!
However…I’m also pretty nervous for the kids to get here. Like I said before, I’m scared about facing the stark contrast in lifestyles between me and these children, which stem not from a difference in hard work, intelligence, or anything tangible, but from mere coincidence. I hope that this summer will give me a new perspective on opportunities and privilege and that the kids will find the program rewarding and fun, giving them tools to achieve their financial goals.
So, hoping all goes well, and stay tuned for another update about my camp experience!