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A few days have passed since closing out my time in Washington D.C. which has provided me with plenty of time for reflection. Whether it be personal or professional, this summer provided me with so many experiences that have changed the way I see the world and how I will prioritize my time with the rest of my college experience.

One of the most memorable moments throughout the summer was a drum circle that the cohort attended in Malcolm X park. It was one of the most beautifully diverse gatherings I have ever been at. It is difficult to exactly describe why it felt so impactful to me. To try and put it into words, it felt like the perfect harmony of culture and community coming together to enjoy each other’s company. A Sunday evening in that park gave me a short glimpse of how the world could be. There was something magical in watching people of all different backgrounds dance, drum, sing, eat, or just sit together, and I will not soon forget the impact it left on me.

The summer also offered me a lesson in independence. For the most part, my time outside of work was in my own hands. With that I had to learn how to balance everything I should do- grocery shopping, meal prep, exercising, and more- with everything I wanted to do- relax, watch television, see friends, and rest. However, this grew to become a welcomed challenge. As I fell into a routine, I began to enjoy my introduction to “adulting.” While I cannot deny that I am excited to returning to life on campus with a dining hall, I am grateful for the lessons in responsibility that this summer provided.

Lastly, this program showed me the important impact that policy plays in peoples lives. I think it can become easy to lose track of the direct effects that policies play in peoples lives. It was helpful to have so many opportunities to engage with the community to see how real people were being impacted and where policy falls short. It was also amazing to get to work with and hear talks from so many  great people in the D.C. community that want to help ensure that policies are a formulated in the best way to serve the community.

My experience in D.C. was unforgettable. From my internship, the DukeEngage enrichment activities, and even my free time exploring the city, I gained so much from my summer which I will carry with me into this new school year and beyond.