In these uncertain times, the only thing that we can truly be sure of is that things can change suddenly. The first major change I experienced was the sudden closing of our campus in the spring and a transition to remote learning. Despite all the signs that my DukeEngage would be cancelled, I held out some hope that somehow, I would make it to Miami this summer. When this changed, I was devastated. However, rather than giving up on my summer of service, I decided to create my own independent program. This idea presented itself with many challenges. I had to choose a new objective, find a community partner, and coordinate with the DukeEngage coordinator. These challenges actually allowed me to become more passionate aboutmy project. Being able to clearly outline my goals and work directly with my community partner to develop a program was so much more fulfilling than simply picking a program from a list and applying.
When the planning was over, I found myself eager to start my project at the Georgia Legal Services Program. Last week was my first full week on the job. I started my week with a Zoom call from the senior staff attorney who is my supervisor and his paralegal. The subsequent days have been a flurry of emails, phone calls, and Zoom meetings. I usually receive my tasks in an email at the beginning of the day. As I work throughout the day, I send emails or text messages clarifying instructions and making sure that I am completing tasks the way they are intended. One of the biggest challenges that Ihave faced in the past week is being anxious about the way I complete my tasks. If things were “normal” I could easily run down the hall and ask a quick question and continue about my progress, but when working from home it seems like a larger inconvenience to my supervisors if I am constantly asking questions. While they have been very helpful and encouraging, I found myself self-conscious.By the end of the week, however, I realized that my questions were actually welcome, and it was less of an inconvenience than I made it out to be.
I find my work very gratifying. My main focus this past week was outreach to Hispanic leaders in my community. I sent at least a dozen emails and received responses from most of them. My supervisors were very pleased that I was able to help build their email tree so quickly. In addition, I have been translating documents. While translation may seem like a small task, knowing that I was making it easier for clients to receive the information that they need reminded me that no task throughout this process is too small. While this experience was not the one that I was expecting, I am going to try my best to make the most of it and use this time to gain valuable experience that I can take going forward.