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Now that we are halfway through the DukeEngage remote learning program, I feel like I have gained more perspective and challenges through my volunteering experience. I believe that one of the biggest challenges is the inability to form connections to the people and environment in Chile. Although nothing can be done about that at this time, I still feel a pull – to go and explore the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, which we have been working for and researching about, and to go meet the residents of the small town of Neltume, who we have been learning about and creating identification cards for. 

When I hear about these places or the experiences of my community partner contact, Macarena Fouquet, I always think that I would love to see and learn about these places firsthand, and not just through a computer screen. However, since our circumstances have changed so drastically over such a short period of time, I am still thankful that I get to volunteer with Huilo Huilo in the first place. It gives me a sense of purpose in this confusing time, a time when I have needed it more than ever. 

Another challenge that I have encountered is time management and focus. Because I am not surrounded by always-working college students anymore, I find myself more easily distracted by my family or social media. It is difficult for me to work diligently without a set workspace and the motivation of college students working around me. The solution I have come up with is sitting with my dad at our living room table and working on my project while he is diligently working on his laptop. Although there are still distractions, it is still much more productive than when I work alone.

Through remote DukeEngage, I have encountered the many challenges of working remotely. However, now that I have these experiences, I am beginning to learn that it is completely manageable.