dukeengageseattle2012

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First Week in Coffeetown

Where can I begin? Seattle so far has been amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better community partner. Working for the Washington Bus has been a dream so far, and I can’t wait to get even more involved with the group.

A week ago, I flew into Seattle on a Sunday morning, leaving behind Chicago and most of my family and friends to embark on a “life-changing summer.” I thought I would be entering another big city with skyscrapers and high rises all around me. But when I landed, I found a much different sight. Rather than seeing the large office buildings that tower over pedestrians like those found in Chicago, I found a beautiful view of mountains, houses, and a gorgeous bay that reflected the sunlight quite well. Even having sunlight was a surprise, as everyone back home warned me of the dreariness of Seattle.

The city seemed to have its own charm, as it looked unlike the big city I imagined and rather a large town, or collection of neighborhoods if you will. Every neighborhood has its own flavor: Capitol Hill has the young and LGBT crowd, Fremont is where the nightlife is, and Downtown Seattle houses the high rises and popular shops like H&M. Plus, it seems that every street corner has Thai food (or Pho if you look to the other side of the street). Bubble tea seems to be quite common here, which came as a pleasant surprise. Chicago has nearly no bubble tea, or at least nothing reasonably close to my house. From talking to various alumni at a Duke Alumni Meet-up, I discovered that Seattle has a different feel than many other big cities. New York has the melting pot feel, with a more abrasive bunch that happen to be truly warm once you know them. Chicago, known for its beautiful summers and ruthless winters, also seemed to be a favorite for many of these former Blue Devils. Every now and then, people would favor the DC metro area. I got the impression that Seattle has its own charm, but it also seems to have a much lower turnover rate than other cities, as many of the greater Seattle area’s inhabitants seem to be born and raised, which definitely has its perks and drawbacks. I could easily see myself living here with a family, but I could see how a larger city would cater more to a young crowd. Still, I fantasize about visiting Melbourne, Australia, a city, I gathered, that had a similar laid-back atmosphere to Seattle with a larger city feel.

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(The Seattle Skyline with its famous Space Needle.)

When it comes to work, the Washington Bus is awesome. Seriously. I talk to my other DukeEngage participants about their jobs, and each time they describe their roles, I can’t help but feel grateful for the position I have. The Bus treats myself and every other co-worker like a true equal rather than a new intern that will only be around for the summer. They seem to value everything that Brian and I do, whether it is cleaning dishes for a phone-banking session or sorting out buttons for on-the-go button-making kits. Whenever I step into the office, I always know that I will be trying something new, and no day is ever like the one before. Plus, my co-workers and bosses are incredibly warm and friendly. They seem to know exactly how to work hard and channel their passion into their careers without taking themselves too seriously. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve had an off-the-wall conversation with one of my bosses. And, the time that I thought I would get flak for reading a book while taking lunch, Toby, the Executive Director, simply walked by and complimented my book choice, stating that he’s read all of the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Aside from the work atmosphere, the Bus really seems to have found a working formula. Rather than spew on about the importance of political action in the monotonous voices that some armchair politicians like to use, they admit that politics are uncool. They know the realities of the young minds, and they instead try to find things that young people enjoy, such as concerts, and find what’s political about them. I can tell every day that I go to work that I will be wowed by the ingenuity and enthusiasm of my colleagues, and I know that I am always in good company.

As for the DukeEngage program itself, I think it definitely has its ups and downs. I love that we have built-in programming events that will let us do what most visitors never get to do. This Saturday, for example, I’ll be attending my first baseball game as we watch the Seattle Mariners take on the Boston Red Sox (Go Sox!). And this past weekend, we had the opportunity to attend the US Olympic Diving trials, where a current Blue Devil, Nick McRory, qualified for the US Men’s Olympic diving team (Congrats Nick!).

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(Nick McRory diving at the US Olympics Men’s Diving Trials.)

But, I do wish we had some more time to explore on our own. These 40 hour work weeks are tiring, and I never realized how fast the hours could pass. I guess I’ll have to make the most out of the time we’re given, and I will definitely have to take advantage of the many opportunities that DukeEngage is providing! Can’t wait for the next week, and I know that Seattle has plenty in store for us.

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This entry was posted on June 28, 2012 by .
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