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Consider this: “from May 8th until July 3rd, a group of 15 Duke University students, spread over three time zones, taught English to a total of 1039 students half a world away in Zhuhai, China.” 

It’s a simple sentence that, at first glance, sums up the 2021 DukeEngage Zhuhai experience. However, upon further inspection, using this sentence to summarize our time in this program is like trying to picture an entire painting using only five brush strokes. 

In Mandarin, 想 (xiǎng) is the verb to think, but it is also the verb for believing, wanting, wishing, and missing. The top part of the character by itself means each other, or one another, or mutually. The lower part of the character is the symbol for “heart”. So when I consider the original statement, I also consider it in tandem with my heart. 

Just two months ago, we were not even sure if our program could run, let alone if the task we set out to achieve would be possible. Can mere students reach across, not only language barriers, but also firewalls and zoom boxes to nurture the spirit of creativity and learning within the hearts of others? Feeling the weight of the goodbyes, and eagerness to keep up with our students in their education journeys, we know that this different Zoom-DukeEngage Zhuhai summer was one whose impact was more than “virtual”. I feel proof of the significance of our time together in my heart.

Our message for all of our students:  我们会很想你们!(wǒ mén huì hěn xiǎng mén!) We will miss you all very much! Because memories of you have had such an impression on our hearts and our minds, you will always be a part of how we consider our world. Maybe this is what it means to change and be changed by others– to challenge yourself and to change your world. 

Please enjoy this video our team made to say goodbye to our students in Zhuhai! Shoutout to Zach for the amazing song mash-up and to Alan and Eric for their awesome editing work!

Click here to watch our video!

Signing off, Elise and Sara <3