Over the course of this DukeEngage experience, the meaning of engagement and what it looks/feels like in a larger context and in my daily life is something I’ve had to consistently reevaluate. Coming into this experience, I didn’t have a clear idea of what this meant. I knew that engagement meant beyond the summer. But what did/does that really mean? Would it be just to say, “I am committed to staying engaged,” and stop there? Really, that is only the first step, but, also the hardest to follow through with completely.
This past summer has taught me that engaging with issues that matter in our everyday lives is an everyday practice for everybody. It is not something that is reserved for certain spaces, certain people, a particular time, or a particular organization. It is about working together to enrich our understanding of the issues in front of us and to fully engage with those issues through action.
While DukeEngage has given some structure to this process over the course of this summer (an opportunity I am most definitely grateful for), there are countless other avenues to continue this work. One of the obstacles and struggles that lies in this, however, is fully committing to the idea that it will be a continual struggle and process. There is no set end date like with a formal program. Furthermore, like in this process, there will be no single way or person through which issues that matter will be solved, but rather a series of actions and people.
With this in mind, we can begin to build our own structure for daily life that engages in conversation, seeks out new ideas, and reaches outward because that is what is necessary to keep engaging. It can be very easy to isolate ourselves, even while making a commitment to engagement. Engagement includes other people, and always remembering that is one way to stay engaged–to not compartmentalize engagement as an individual act of “service,” but to see it as an everyday practice done with others.