These last three and a half weeks have been busy both in and out of our work-sites. At Durham Literacy Center, I have continued to work on a series of modules focused on career and college readiness. These modules range from writing resumes and cover letters to finding affordable housing. This week, I have begun working on the modules with students one-on-one. We start with career interest inventories to gauge possible career options based on the student’s likes and skills. The interest inventories are fascinating to me, because of the accuracy and analysis (try taking the Holland Code Career Test at http://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test, which gives you a list of suggested careers based on your interests). They are also very helpful for students who need help figuring out what they want to do after getting their GED. Many come in saying they “just want to find a job,” but there are thousands of jobs out there. These activities help the students find jobs that they would actually be interested in.
After figuring out the student’s goals, we then move on to actually applying for jobs and colleges. It’s been very exciting to see the modules put into practice. In addition, while the modules are intended to be educational for the students, I’m finding myself learning a lot through the work too. I’ve never even had to think about finding affordable car insurance before, so the experience has been eye opening into what life in the “real world” is like.
One thing this experience has taught me is how many obstacles there are once you leave high school. First is the experience of actually getting your GED. In 2014, the GED became harder, making it much more difficult to self study. In addition, students working towards their GED also often have to work to support their families, or face other difficulties outside of the classroom. Even though the students are around my age (the program is for 12-15 students aged 16-24), many of them have had to deal with situations I never could’ve imagined before working here.
Outside of our work-sites, our group has gotten a lot of changes to explore Durham. Last Saturday, our DukeEngage Durham group met up at the Farmer’s Market for a walking tour of Durham led by Preservation Durham, a group that “collaborates to protect Durham for future generations.” Our particular tour focused on Durham’s Civil Rights history, but the organization also offers free tours focusing on other aspects of the city’s history and architecture. It was interesting to learn more about the city’s parallel black and white communities in the 20th century and see how they literally existed parallel to each other, with white businesses on Main Street and black businesses on Parrish Street.
Our group activity this week was a tour of American Underground at Main. American Underground provides office and co-working space for entrepreneurs. It is one of just seven Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hubs in North America, and offers its entrepreneurs unique access to Google and its products. It is also one of the coolest offices I’ve ever been in. Seriously: it features a slide to get from one floor to another and a mini trampoline in the lobby. We also got to meet one of the entrepreneur teams. Their company, Nugget, manufactures “the easiest couch ever.” It was cool getting to actually talk to some of the people using the American Underground space and see how a small entrepreneurial company functions. Tomorrow morning, we are going canoeing on the Eno River. I love the outdoors, so it will great to get out and enjoy the great weather while exploring nature.
It seems crazy to think that we only have two weeks left in North Carolina. These last three and a half weeks have been full of fun work and enrichment activities (as well as group bonding over the NBA Finals and Finding Dory), and I’m looking forward to our remaining time in the Bull City and our upcoming trip to England!