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(This blog is from the Summer of 2016.)

Hey everyone! I’m Jared, one of the rising juniors who has worked as an intern at the Children’s Hospital. Living in New Orleans the past two months has been incredible; I love the work I have been doing, the Duke students in the program, the exploration of the city, the amazing food, the culture, the music, and so much more. There has been so much to do in and outside of work, and I have felt like the summer has passed by so quickly. I truly could not have asked for a better place to work and live in for the summer.

In particular, my work in the Children’s Hospital has created many new experiences and been such a great place to be immersed and gain exposure in the clinical setting. Some of my responsibilities include supervising/training volunteers, visiting patients bedside, communicating with patient families to ensure patient satisfaction, running the activity rooms for the pediatric patients, doing office work in the Child Life department and other relevant duties. However, because it is a dynamic hospital environment, each day I am often involved in different tasks – some days I work more in the office, and others more with patients. Because of this, I rarely find myself struggling to find work to do, as there always seems to be something that can be done.

But I think what I enjoy most about being here in the Children’s Hospital is really getting to meet new patients each week. Many patients stay from anywhere between 3 days to 2 weeks (sometimes more), so I am constantly seeing new faces and getting to know children from many different parts of Louisiana and surrounding states. While some may be only 2 years old (and can’t really talk), many others are older children/teenagers who I often to talk to about interesting aspects of their life. For me, being able to meet these new people is what makes this job truly exciting.

Outside of work, I have absolutely loved getting to go to new restaurants and visiting new places. Jamabalaya, gumbo, poboys, beignets, fried chicken, snowballs, and oysters have just been a few of the foods we have gotten to try in New Orleans. I don’t think there has been one meal (outside of my own cooking, which has been edible/mediocre at best) that I have not loved. So much of New Orleans culture revolves around food, and so it is no surprise that the food here is anything short of amazing. I am just so glad that other students in this DukeEngage program have been just as excited about exploring the many different food options here as I have been.

As for the experiences/places we have been to, there have certainly been many different memories made. Some of my favorites include: the swamp tour, the plantation tour, going to clubs/bars on Buorbon and Frenchmen Street, eating at Café Du Monde, riding surrey bikes at City Park, going to a jazz concert, walking in a second line parade, feeding a giraffe as Audubon Zoo, going to Running of the Bulls (where girls on skates hit you with plastic bats haha), fireworks at the Riverwalk and the ghost tour. As I look back on each of the things we’ve done, I realize that I have loved each and every one of those amazing experiences. Nearly all those experiences have been for the first time, and I am so happy that I was able to have that here in NOLA with the close friends I’ve made in the program.

With just a week or so more to go, I know that I am going to miss everything about being part of the DukeEngage program here in New Orleans. Whether it was late nights at nearby clubs, watching romantic drama movies with our group, eating beignets for the first time or spending time talking with a patient about her high school experience, I know that these times are going to be sorely missed. However, I am so thankful that I’ve gotten the chance to be a part of this program. I applied to a Duke Engage program 3 times before getting into this one (yes, it’s possible haha; I applied international twice and domestic once) and I couldn’t imagine a better fit. For anyone interested in this program: if you have any reservations about this program… don’t. It is going to be one of the best experiences you can have in a summer – I know that it has for me.