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For the Durham, England portion of this program, I will be working with Beini Wang at Changing Lives, which is a direct access hostel for men who are not yet ready for independent living. Some reasons include drug and alcohol issues, mental health problems, and financial stability.

The current support staff at Changing Lives were very interested in what Beini and I were interested in doing and learning about. After a few days of planning and discussing with the different support staff, Beini and I have decided that our time with Changing Lives will primarily have two aspects:

  1. Creating a resident success/appreciation board to publicly share the triumphs that the residents at Changing Lives have had in order to motivate other residents. We will interview many of the residents to hear their stories, which should be a really interesting experience. The staff members, Beini and I favored this project because it was small enough to be completed in our short 14 days total of work with Changing Lives and also sustainable enough for the staff to continue after we leave in a few weeks.

  2. Shadowing the many different aspects of Changing Lives. Before speaking to the staff support, I didn’t realize how many different specialists we could speak to– from employment specialists to drug and alcohol rehabilitation staff etc. At CEF, Beini and I often played the role of “connectors”– letting members know about the different resources in Durham. But here, it looks like we will be able to learn about the resources our residents/members utilize after we have connected them. I hope to learn a lot about the nonprofit services here so that I can continue comparative conversations with CEF when I return in the fall.


Overall, I am trying to make the most of this short time in Durham, England to contribute sustainably to Changing Lives and to learn as much as I can. Looking forward to the next three weeks!