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Nothing really exciting happened outside of work this week, so I will spend the time here to talk about what I’ve been working on and who I have been working with these past 4 (almost) weeks.

My internship at Durham, NC’s Office of Economics and Workforce Development has been focused around two assignments. My first task is to write up a proposal for the establishment of a Durham Cultural Advisory Office. I did this by researching how other comparable cities’ manage their cultural affairs. I went through their budgets and other government documents to find out how those offices/projects are funded and organized. My findings were then made into tables, charts and eventually a presentation for ease of access. My second assignment is to do preliminary research on how Durham can celebrate its Sesquicentennial in 2019. My primary direction so far has been evaluating if light shows can be a good way of celebrating such an event and what the economic impacts are. Similar to the cultural arts office, I do this by looking at other successful light festivals around the world. As Durham, UK’s has one of the most impressive light shows in the world in Lumiere, I have been looking at how we can learn from Lumiere to establish our own light festival. I have also gotten in contact with a Councillor from the County Council to ask for recommendations and advice.

Our work on these two projects up to this point was “evaluated” this past Wednesday by Durham’s Sesquicentennial Committee and the Cultural Affairs Board. The morning meeting at City Hall was mostly filled with presentations by current committee mayors on the general structure and themes they want to be included in the year-long celebration. As we learned more about their vision of the sesquicentennial and the funds budgeted for the occasion, I am having doubts about the feasibility of a Durham light festival. We talked with the head of DCVB after the meeting and she seems interested in what we are doing, so I guess all is not lost.

The afternoon meeting with the Cultural Advisory Board went much better. Our supposedly 10-minute presentation lasted almost half an hour due to the constant comments. The board members appeared to be very interested in what we are presenting and had many follow up questions. Finally, we were asked to compile what we found and send them to the board.

For the rest of the week and possibly the next, we will be preparing materials to send to these committees.

Now, on to the people. OEWD has honestly one of the best work environment I have been around. Everyone here is so genuinely nice and helpful. Brian, my supervisor, is also one of the hardest working people I know. He consistently gets here before 8 and leaves after 5 (I wouldn’t know exactly when). Even those who I don’t work with are so genuinely nice and caring. Cheryl would greet us every morning on her way to her office. We wouldhave small talks about our weekends or how our days went etc. The day before our presentation, Cheryl overhead us (Kevin and I) discussing whether a tie is needed for our presentation. Cheryl insisted on the need for a tie and when we explained that we didn’t bring ties to Durham with us, she immediately offered us new ones. We eventually borrowed ties from our roommates, but this just goes on to show the quality of the people we work with.

I am already rambling so I will stop here. All in all, I am just grateful for the opportunity to be here.