The first word that comes to mind regarding my DukeEngage experience amidst these unknown times is grateful. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for my program director, Dr. Malone, for his facilitation of partner organization pairings and his eagerness to stay connected and reflect with the cohort of DukeEngage Boston students. I am also thankful for DukeEngage for creating the opportunity for students to engage in a remote civic engagement experience and grapple with the unique challenges and successes that accompany this virtual landscape. Most of all, I am appreciative of my colleagues at my partner organization, Raising a Reader Massachusetts (RAR-MA) for creating a collaborative space where I can apply my skills, grow and learn, and contribute to an extremely worthy mission.
Raising a Reader Massachusetts is a nonprofit that aims to develop a love for reading and encourage lifestyle habits that build literacy in its pre-kindergarten constituents by facilitating a book share program and hosting parent workshops that teach caregivers how to best engage in story time. This week, my entry into the organization has consisted of a great deal of overview meetings from a variety of different teams within RAR-MA, ranging from development to program delivery to operations and evaluation. I eagerly assumed the role of the student and have tried my best to immerse myself into the many facets of the organization’s work. For a program that is typically very hands-on and in-person in nature, I was impressed with the ease at which the workshops transferred to a Zoom setting and, in reality, acknowledged the hours and hours of work that it took to make very intentional pedagogical choices to retain the impact and integrity of the live events. From my experience thus far, this perfectly encapsulates the RAR program – eager to be accessible to as many families as possible and willing to put in the work to achieve their goals.
What’s To Come
Looking ahead to the coming weeks, I will be starting a series of projects that aim to evaluate the program, synthesize data, and create new communication materials. Whether it be redesigning a daily activity calendar for new families, recording and publishing my own virtual story time, or creating data visualization boards to communicate the vast impact that reading has on young lives, I am looking forward to diving into these experiences with the same rigor and grit that has been modeled by my RAR-MA peers.