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At the beginning of quarantine, I began volunteering my efforts to help an education nonprofit create a digital guide for school districts transition to remote learning. Although the work was super interesting, I found the day to day tasks to be rather tedious. A couple weeks in I began questioning my own intentions and whether I was more heavily motivated by money than I would perhaps like to admit. After I had completed my work, I reasoned to myself and friends that unpaid internships were unethical in the first place and quickly proceeded.


Quarantine has challenged me to rethink how much I rely on external validation and instant gratification.


In a world that constantly emphasizes efficiency and convenience, many of us are taking the time to bake bread or read a fantasy book that has been sitting on our bookshelf for years collecting dust. In a world that feels increasingly performative, where almost half of Americans are focused on economic survival, it can feel indulgent or selfish to read for leisure or be ungrateful for a job that I have. However, as Ariely explains, these are the consequences of the alienation of labor and the knowledge economy that we reside in.


As I try to imagine a better society that we can live in, I try to remain focused on my summer DukeEngage project and find satisfaction in the spaces that I occupy and the change that I can create within them.