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The DukeEngage-Zhuhai program has just celebrated its 10-year milestone with a now annual exchange visit from Zhuhai No.9 School and a standing-room-only alumni reunion. This year, the Chinese middleschoolers were hosted by an American middle school near Washington, D.C.

As always, the most awaited part of the Zhuhai No.9 students’ American exchange is when they visit Duke University and reunite with their DukeEngage brothers and sisters.

The DukeEngage Zhuhai program partners with a Chinese middle school — Zhuhai No. 9 — over the summer to provide art education and English lessons with a focus on creativity, leadership development, self-discovery, and personal growth. The Duke students work as a team throughout the program at Zhuhai No. 9 school and generally teach 13 English classes a week consisting of choosing themes for discussion of the day. Duke students learn about flexibility and impromptu lesson-making as they must often adjust their plans according to each class.

Malavi Ravindran, a DukeEngage-Zhuhai 2018 alumni, recalls her experience: “The trip was amazing because it forced you to open up immediately. There was no time to be shy or awkward, you just had to embrace looking silly and have fun with it. This made the kids more willing to participate, and it brought us all so close together right at the beginning.”

The Zhuhai No.9 students and staff visited Duke on January 20, 2019, and enjoyed a dinner event attended by DukeEngage alumni from 2012 up to 2018, as well as the upcoming DukeEngage Zhuhai 2019 cohort. A total of 75 people crowded happily into the East Campus apartment of program director, Hsiao-Mei Ku.

Many DukeEngage alumni have stated the importance and impact of this reunion every year. Emily Chen, a DukeEngage-Zhuhai alum from 2015, shared this about her experience with the reunion:

“I participated in DukeEngage-Zhuhai in the summer of 2015 and had an absolutely incredible experience. Leaving Zhuhai at the end of the summer was heartbreaking because we had formed such strong relationships with our students and our host families. That means my teammates and I were unbelievably excited when we found out that some of the kids would be coming to Duke the following January. The students, families, and teachers gave us so much and really embraced us as part of their community while we were in Zhuhai, so it was extremely meaningful to be able to reciprocate that for even just a weekend. It was a such a surreal, joyous opportunity to see our former students and show them our home at Duke and it’s a memory that I will treasure forever.”

This reunion showcases the way DukeEngage fosters relationships and allows for growth and continued contact between their summer experience and the rest of their career at Duke University.