Realizations

As for today, it has been exactly a week since i had started working. As part of DE Durham program, I am interning at YMCA in Durham. YMCA usually brings up the image of gym, summer camps and community center- but the project I am working on is “5 million pounds project”, an obesity prevention program. With three other  interns, i am working to create an interactive map of Durham to identify the health barriers, solutions and other rising problems. So our ideal goal is creating a customized solutions for each neighborhood in Durham in order to cater to different needs.

Working in YMCA has been really great- the people in Ys are friendly, (they even extended membership for us!), we are in the air-conditioned facility, everything is clean and nice. We had travelled between Downtown YMCA and American Tobacco YMCA, so we have had many chances to observe Durham, and meet Durham residents working out in YMCAs.

This is my first time working in non-profit organization, and working here has been much more organized than I had expected. I have to admit that i did not know what to expect for working for non-profits. To me, the only difference between working in non-profit and corporates is the amount of pay. I work in non-profit, so as it literally says, i get lower pay. Except this, i did not expect that there will be any other differences. Even for the first two days, i did not realize having a a full-time orientation, spending two days with Ryan with us 24/7 is a special treat for interns working in non-profits until i talked with other students working in different organizations. Perhaps because YMCA stands on the interesting point between non-profit and corporate structures, we had more structured and organized two days.
Working has been great- i like my teammates and we have been very respectful to each other. I also greatly appreciate how Aerin and Mimi have generously offered to give us rides whenever we need, because i know that giving rides to others is not something easy.
So far, the only challenge that I face in my working experience in YMCA is getting into the habit of working 9-5, and just putting YMCA into part of my life. I am a very very very habitual person- I work systematically, so need some time to get this new change of my life into habits so that I can be used to it, and make it work.
I am also learning how there are many things that Duke students take for granted. First example is wi-fi. It is just unbelievable to me that there is a place without wifi. Seriously. Duke students are powerless without internet. So it was shocking a) American Tobacco building does not have internet b) my supervisor is trying to negotiate with his supervisor to get him a laptop. No laptop and internet, two necessary things in my life in Duke can be a luxury in outside of Duke bubble! Another thing is having ample resources in Duke- if i want to learn something, research something, i just have to ask in Duke. It may take time to find who is the best one to ask for help, but i will be helped sooner or later. But learning that this is not true in the real world was another surprising moment to me.
These realizations begin to help to understand why some Durham residents have aversion/uneasy feelings for Duke students. I was so naive (and still am i guess) that it was really difficult for me to understand why Durham residents would feel bad about Duke students. But if I were them, I would not feel comfortable about young, financially privileged (not everyone is, but it seems like everyone is at least from the outsider view) kids fooling around your neighborhood when you cannot even meet the basic needs of life.
Alrightie, I will see how next week goes – we are going to attend YMCA leadership conference, and this will be a rare and great opportunity to observe how YMCA works!
          – Jasmine
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