I began working at the Durham Literacy center at the beginning of June and it has been one of the most rewarding experience of my life. Learning how to teach and respond to the educational needs of students has been a challenge. Obviously, I am no expert in the field of education, but with the help of Andrew and Amy, two employees of the Literacy Center, I am doing my best to make a positive impact in the community. Very soon, my time as an intern will be over and I hope to have made a lasting impression on the students I have tutored. Everyone at Duke Engage is in the same position. You can only do so much in six weeks. Our impact on the community is meant to be an example to the rest of Duke, which is, I think, the point of the program. Unless we can, as a collective of 15 students, continue to encourage engagement with the Durham community then we haven’t done enough with our time in Durham. Having said that, I think that we have already made lasting bonds with our organizations. All of us are getting up in the morning and staying at our work until the late afternoon. You couldn’t find a Duke Engage student in this program who hasn’t put forth a strong effort to better their organization and their community.
Last week’s theme for the blog posts was Non-Profits and Entrepreneurs, this week’s is Economic impacts of Change. Economics was the topic of my blog post last week. Years spent in North Carolina, and my experience on the tour we took last Saturday have illustrated to me that Durham and the state as a whole are experiencing the impact of recently deceased industries. Both Tobacco in Durham and manufacturing in other parts of the state have been in the decline the past fifty years. Although there is a plethora of support for individuals who have lost their jobs due to this transition, the impacts of economic change on communities as a whole cannot be ignored. Right here in Durham, new businesses and a booming medical industry is leading to the gentrification of historic neighborhoods. The impacts of an influx of capital into the city is a good prospect for the economic wellbeing of Durham, which 20 years ago would have never expected such good fortune. On the other hand, new money is the nail in the coffin of old Durham. New money has signaled the final collapse of the tobacco industry and the money from its manufacturing in our city, but today the real challenge is preserving the soul of Durham while adapting to the changing economic landscape.