DukeEngage in Miami, in many ways, has gone very differently than how I’d pictured it when I first came into the program. Whether it be in the kind of work I thought I’d be doing, the types of people I saw myself meeting, or how I imagined Miami treating me, there has been plenty to surprise me along the way.
With just two weeks left before my time in Miami and with CCLS comes to an end, I’ve found myself returning to reflect on my early expectations of this program. The answer to what I hoped to find out coming into this summer – whether or not law is something I want to pursue in the future – remains to be seen. Have I learned from this summer? It’s impossible to say I haven’t. But as focused as I was early on in learning about the legal aspect of the work CCLS does, I think I’ve come away understanding more of the human aspect. My interaction with clients is still somewhat limited as a result of the language barrier, but the interactions I do have – whether it be direct, or in going through case after case and story after story – has had an effect on me that will undoubtedly influence the way I see much of the world going forward.
The biggest question I wonder about is whether, in taking from this program all that I have, how much have I really given back? It’s been difficult to reconcile the work I do in the office with the feeling of helplessness that seems to be pervasive. People’s lives, the lives of their loved ones, and the homes that they know here in the States exist on a fragile tightrope at CCLS. For every moment of work that I do, I wonder what more I can be doing. And with every moment of work that I don’t do, whether in the daily distraction of office conversation or breaks here and there, I can’t help but feel guilty for the potential cost of even that short time. I’ve worked hard, but I wonder if I’ve really given back in equal measure to all that I’ve been given. I’m not sure if I’ll end this program having resolved this feeling.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve gained from this program – the friendships, the experiences, the insights, all of it – and thinking about how fast it’s all gone by is bittersweet to say the least. But it’s not over just yet. I’ve still got two more weeks of Miami left and I intend to make the most of them – and if I end the summer without all the answers, I think that’s alright.