While sitting in my apartment sick this week, I began to reflect on my experience with DukeEngage this summer. My day as a human biohazard gave me some much needed free time to consider what this experience has meant to me. I came to the conclusion that, overall, I’ve enjoyed being in Durham this summer. DukeEngage gave me the chance to really explore a city that I’ve lived in the past two years. Before this summer, I had only been downtown once or twice. I had never experienced the amazing food at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles (which was 100x better than the KFC on Eggos that I was expecting), seen the unique vintage clothes at Dolly’s, or gone to a show at the reasonably priced and hip MotorCo. Like a lot of Duke students, I didn’t really take advantage of what Durham had to offer during the school year. Now that I’ve had a chance to explore, I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with Durham.
Granted, Durham has its faults, the largest of which being the obvious socioeconomic divide. Driving to work every morning, it is striking how quickly you leave the upper scale restaurants and shops of downtown and journey into a residential area that is obviously less affluent. Durham is going through the typical growing pains of a developing city. I can only hope that, as it continues to mature, the socioeconomic disparity will be addressed and lessened.
While I was initially apprehensive about staying so close to home this summer, I’m really glad I did. Even though I didn’t travel to a foreign location, I did learn about a place that I had never really had a chance to visit before and I helped a population that needed my assistance. I hope to be able to continue working with the nonprofit I have interned with during the year. DukeEngage has renewed my excitement about being at Duke in Durham. I can’t wait until August when I can show all of my friends all of the great new places I have learned about.