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Whirlwind. That’s probably the best word to use when describing this past week. I have been in denial for weeks, but it has finally hit me that my time in Seattle is quickly approaching to an end. There have been so many memories, people, and events – I can’t believe that I’ve done so much, but – at the same time – I can’t believe that there is still so much that I haven’t experienced or seen. I have yet to visit Alki Beach, the Museum of Flight, or “officially” eaten at a Tom Douglas restaurant, but I have hiked miles up the Pacific Crest Trail, rowed a boat in Lake Union while it was raining, and eaten at Maneki – the renowned Japanese restaurant that is in the now non-existent Japantown in the International District. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy The Dark Knight Rises with my fellow DukeEngagers in the safety and comfort of a local movie theater, but I have also been shocked and devastated by the uneventful midnight premiere in Aurora, Colorado.
Life is often full of surprises, and Seattle certainly has not disappointed. I’ll be honest: I did not come here knowing the full extent of my job at the Austin Foundation. I did not arrive at Steven’s Court on the University of Washington campus expecting to connect with every DukeEngage participant. I did not think I would be able to experience Seattle to the extent that I have. But, so far, most of my expectations or uncertainties have turned into genuinely positive experiences. You see, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you and reversing your expectations. In my particular case, Seattle has been everything that I could possibly dream of – minus some of the behaviors of the youth at work. Despite the trouble that some of them might give me, the interesting thing is: phrases such as “I’m going to get yoked” or “that’s a wrap” have slowly become a part of my everyday vocabulary. Maybe I am rubbing off on them, or they’re rubbing off on me, but working with the Junior Trainers at the Austin Foundation has become increasingly rewarding.
Sometimes in life, you experience and see things that you never think you will ever see in your lifetime. A year ago, I was in the hall of French Family Science Center looking at Loudon’s Organic Chemistry textbook and desperately trying to understand all the mechanisms and reactions associated with ketones, aldehydes, carboxylic acids, and amines. After the first year of college, I was convinced that most of my time at Duke would be spent in the library either studying or sleeping. Turns out, only some of my initial thoughts were true. You do spend a considerable amount of time studying while in school, but on programs such as DukeEngage, Duke ensures that you have fun too. Work hard, play hard – that’s the name of the game.
Thus far, the Seattle Aquarium, Bainbridge Island, and the Pacific Crest Trail have been my favorite “tourist” attractions. At the aquarium and island, I was exposed to the native fauna and flora of Puget Sound and Bainbridge respectively. On the Pacific Crest Trail, I was able to experience the great outdoors as it should be enjoyed – with hiking boots, a hard hat, backpack, and good quality jeans. Retreading a trail has been one of my more memorable experiences here and I highly recommend future DukeEngagers work with the Washington Trails Association – it’s an experience that you will never be able to replicate in any way, shape, or form.
Oh! Did I also mention that my group had an awesome mentor in Pete? Here’s to Pete and to the Most Valuable Pete team.