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Although I only worked for three days, week one in Seattle has ended. Since I first arrived exactly a week ago, I have explored the University District, tasted a variety of local foods, learned to use public transportation, and interacted with Duke alumni in the area. Given the relatively compacted schedule, I find it difficult to articulate the effect each learning experience has had on me. I am still trying to digest the fact that my experiences in this past week are a reality and not a fragment of my imagination.
Despite the plethora of events that have transpired this past week, some of the activities that have reverberated most with me include the tour of the International District, and work at the Austin Foundation. At the International District, I had the opportunity to visit the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the only pan-Asian-Pacific American community-based museum in America. During the visit, we went on a tour of the neighborhood surrounding the museum and were introduced to the history of local Seattle communities, parks, and restaurants. I found the nearly nonexistent Japantown – a community that once thrived in the pre-WWII era, but disappeared after residents were evacuated to internment camps – to be most representative of the negative consequences American history has had on this particular community. Of the many local businesses that were once prominent in the area, only the Panama Hotel, a Japanese restaurant, and a Japanese store are still found today.
At the Austin Foundation, a local non-profit organization focused on promoting fitness in the lives of young people, I became aware of the challenges that some of Seattle’s youth face. The first week was a learning experience – to say the least. I became familiar with the gym environment, the young people that come in and out on a daily basis, and fellow colleagues/employees. Much of my work for the summer is based on the organization’s Junior Trainers Program, an initiative to educate middle school and high school aged youth of different components of fitness/wellness. The goal is to inspire the foundation’s young people to lead healthy lifestyles and combat the growing obesity epidemic that has become one of the nation’s greatest public health concerns.
This past Saturday, the Austin Foundation teamed up with the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle’s National Football League (NFL) team, to host a NFL Play 60 event at Green Lake Park – Seattle’s most popular city park. Despite the rain, we had a relatively good turnout of families who participated. I am glad I had the opportunity to observe the logistics of the event since Emily (another DukeEngage intern at the Austin Foundation) and I will be responsible for putting together many of these events throughout the summer. Hopefully, for the rest of the summer, the weather will not be as bad as it was yesterday. As a famous nursery rhyme once said, “Rain rain go away, Come again another day.”