If I must start with a clichéd yet genuine opening to my last DukeEngage blog, then it would be “time really flies by.” Even after three years of college, it could be hard to be away from home for 10 weeks straight, especially almost half of it was spent away from school, in a country and community I am not quite familiar with. Yet as the moment comes, it is still hard to believe that DukeEngage has officially come to an end.
Before coming into DukeEngage, we were being reminded that participating in a service program does not make us saviors. Yet even after coming in with a modest attitude, I was still surprised at how much I was humbled through this experience. To begin with, comparing and contrasting between two mental illness rehabilitation facilities in two different countries offered me an eye-opening perspective on how demographic background, economic conditions and social policies could all contribute to shaping organizational goals for non-profits. Furthermore, during our time in Waddington Street Centre, almost everyone we have interacted with, both staff members and service users, have offered us more knowledge on the culture of the community we are living in, which varied from learning “cheeky” new words to having serious discussions on the political situation in the UK. Most importantly, the appreciation we get from service users, even those we simply had short conversations with, surprised us greatly. In a certain sense, from both a service learning and an emotional level, I feel very much owed to the communities we “served” in.
The United Kingdom has also been grateful to us in showing all it has to offer. From our enrichment activities to our weekend trips, I have seen the history of the mining industry in Durham, listened to local politicians on their views of Brexit, wandered in the National Gallery in London, and of course, scattered the Big Ben all over the background of my touristy photos.
Thank you for taking me in, DukeEngage. Thank you for hosting me, England. It has been a great adventure alongside by great companions.
Cheers, UK. Until next time!