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#1 This week’s topic was sports. For my class with Gianni, we shared with the students a video of a dog running wild and wreaking havoc on the basketball court—and also in my heart. I think dogs would be the most effective cure in the case of a zombie apocalypse. The video took away my sleep deprivation and all its associated zombie-like symptoms.

#2 Over the years, I tried hard to adopt the mindset of a single plankton chilling in the sea, drifting as the wind blows and moving as the wave turns. In other words, I try not to think about what has gone by very often, and instead focus on the present, finding meaning and happiness in each precious moment. My reasoning: I thought lingering in the past will make me unhappy the same way worrying about the future makes me overwhelmed. So when Hsiao-mei and Sara invited us to use this week’s blog to reflect on our past experiences and how we brought those into our work for DukeEngage Zhuhai, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say. Fortunately, I was mistaken.

#3 The first job I ever had was babysitting. I was in third grade and had to watch over my five year old cousin. I started tutoring in high school and continued in college. One thing I learned while tutoring is that the students generally reflect just the amount of enthusiasm you put into your teaching. Knowing this motivated me to try my best to keep the energy level high in the Zhuhai classrooms. Saying hi to the students as they joined zoom reflected, in a way, my experience of working as a junior volunteer at the Duke hospital, where I greeted patients with a bright smile in hopes I could make their day slightly better. Having taken Chinese classes was also helpful. Although I am by no means fluent, I was able to understand a few phrases here and there, like when a student said that he could not hear me clearly because of internet issues (I turned to the zoom chat to communicate afterwards). Just recalling these reminded me how much my past experiences, whether I knew it or not, has built me to become who I am now and pushed me forward to where I am now.

#4 I came to learn that reflecting on the past is different from lingering on it, and that from time to time, it is good to stop and think about how I came to this point in my life. If you had asked me five years ago, I wouldn’t have said I was volunteering so I could incorporate that experience and use the skills I learned there in my DukeEngage program. I just had a vague sense of wanting to do something useful and meaningful with my life and took the opportunities that were available to me at that time. I think not much has changed since then. My motives for teaching the students in Zhuhai are the same. If I continue searching for meaning in every moment, in each little thing I do, there might come a day when my past experiences tie neatly together, just like this moment—then I can stop and reflect on how what I am doing now has shaped me to become who I am.