Skip to main content


I created a concept map for my sixth reflection. I was inspired by the weekly meeting for last week. After watching Chimamanda Adichie’s TedTalk, we were asked about the “single story” that was told about the organization or community we were working with. My independent project is with a Durham organization, so it was easy for me to share about the single story told about Durham among Duke students. Duke students have a narrow mindset about Durham, often viewing it as desolate, dangerous, and Duke-centered.


Sometimes in a casual conversation, it will come up that I have several friends who live in Durham or Raleigh. First question: “Oh, are you from here?” No, I’m from Tennessee. Second: “Oh, are they from your hometown?” Nope, they were born and raised here, and I’ve met them since I started at Duke. It is a foreign idea to invest and mingle in Durham. If Duke students ever discuss trips off-campus (yes, trips because they are such a hassle and rarity to some), it is visiting Chapel Hill (“it has such a great college town vibe!”) or trying one of Durham’s many trendy restaurants (“I’m just SO tired of WU!”) Why is it uncomfortable to learn about the city that you live in? Durham does not need us, but it is strange to spend four years in a new place and not make a single friend who lives in Durham or participate in any community activities or programs. I don’t think everyone has to invest in the town where their college is located, but among Duke students it seems to be a oddity. For many people, it is their first time to live without their parents and live in a place other than the town they grew up in.


I made this concept map based on what I know about Durham. It is not exhaustive at all. I had to leave out many notable places due to space constraints. I also do not know everything about Durham, but working with DurhamCares and living in Northgate Park this summer I am learning more and more. A lot of the key concepts (Hayti District, Ann Atwater, NCCU, MacDougall Terrace, Hillside High School, Stagville Plantation) I learned because I sought out that information. I visited religious centers off-campus, I took 6 service-learning classes that took me to Durham public schools and nearby Hillsborough, I worked for a Durham non-profit and for a family-owned Durham restaurant, and I made friends who were born and raised in Durham, who Duke students call “Durhamites.” No one from Durham actually calls themselves a “Durhamite.”