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I know it’s easy to write about how the pandemic has shaped this program, this summer, the past year, but I can’t really ignore it given how radically everything is reformed. This summer I chose to stay in Durham. One result of this choice is that I had to find a house to live in, and subsequently I’ve had to pack and move everything from the old place into the new. Even with people to help and expedite the process, even with people to liven the mood, it’s still been a slow and awful process, dragging out in small bits for the entire week. In a way, I’ve had to put more thought towards it than my teaching or DukeEngage or anything else. I don’t know if I’ve put as much attention as I could into my lessons. I slept through my Mandarin lesson after having been so amped about it the week before.

Staying in Durham has created this condition. This year we couldn’t go to Zhuhai. Here I’ve written about how that fact has lead to distractions that come from what is living daily life. Now, I have the preoccupations of living in Durham to think about instead of learning how to live with a host family in Zhuhai. It’s different. And the differences makes me aware of what isn’t and what can’t be right now and what might be in the future. Feelings of frustration with the present meld with excitement for what we might be able to do in the future. All of what I’ve written has also underwritten how those of us in this program have adapted to the conditions of the now in order to fulfill the various missions of the program.

Teaching is going along better, like always. Though I may have not felt myself to be doing enough, weeks of experience help offset that struggle. Learning about hobbies and extracurriculars also set the stage for fun things (like juggling). Comradery, as always, is getting better. Going to Bahn’s this weekend was lovely, even though it was unseasonably cold and windy and rainy. I went to the arts store and an ice cream shop with Sara for our weekly check-in, which was also lovely. I’m fortunate for these pocket of fun that we’re able to have.

When we started DE Zhuhai, I was afraid we wouldn’t have a lot of time to socialize and to become familiar. I feared a repeat of zoom classes where you show up and do what you have to do and leave. But that hasn’t been the case. We’ve been getting tighter in a way required of us given the constraints of the moment. That reflects in our teaching — two teachers who know each other and enjoy each other makes for more cohesive teaching. But it also makes the program that much more enjoyable.