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It’s officially the halfway point of the Portland DukeEngage program, and it’s time to reflect on everything I’ve done in the past four weeks as well as look forward to the future. Here is a list of objectives that I set at the beginning of the Portland program that I have accomplished so far:


Learn the public transit system

This was surprisingly easy. Coming from a relatively small town with subpar public transit infrastructure, my expectations for the effectiveness of the transit system here were low. However, public transit is effortless in Portland, and I feel confident that I can get from point A to point B comfortably.


Memorize the (downtown) Portland Map

I feel confident about my whereabouts when I am walking or commuting in Portland. I rarely get lost anymore, and I have much of the public transit lines memorized as well.


Get comfortable in my workplace

The staff at Metro made this pretty easy. Everyone is incredibly kind and accommodating, so it only took one or two days to feel completely settled in.


Explore Nature

One of the perks of Portland is its closeness to nature and its outdoorsy ethos. This past week, the DukeEngage cohort had the opportunity to spend the weekend in the Opal Creek Wilderness, one of the last undisturbed old growth forests in Oregon. Seeing the forest in its undisturbed perfection without the distractions of cell service or the internet was a fantastic break from urban living.


Get lost in Powell’s

Widely known as the largest independent bookstore in the world, this one was a must. I spent three hours disappearing into an endless maze of books, and admittedly, a large portion of that timeframe was spent finding my way back out.


And here is a list of the things I still want to accomplish in the final four weeks:


Buy a book at Powell’s

That’s right, I spent three hours in a bookstore and didn’t even buy a book. To be honest, I haven’t read a book for fun in five years, so it was a bit daunting to be surrounded by millions of options to choose from all at once. I’m hoping that if I visit Powell’s again, I can pick out a book that I truly enjoy. Hopefully at the end of the program, I can credit Powell’s for single-handedly reigniting my love of reading.


Find the perfect cafe

One of the perks of living within the constraints of a stipend is that I have learned to make a mean cup of coffee in my dorm, but it also means that I haven’t been able to peruse the thousands of excellent coffee shops that call Portland home. Sure, it costs four dollars to buy a coffee that I can make for fifteen cents in my dorm room, but if I have enough money at the end of the program, finding the best coffee shop in Portland will become my quest.


Get out of Portland

Portland is an amazing place, but so is the rest of the Pacific Northwest. Whether it’s visiting Seattle, the Pacific coast, or one of the many volcanoes in the region, I want to explore the areas surrounding Portland as well.


Make a difference in the workplace

While two months is not enough time to create a massive contribution to an organization as large and wide-scoping as Metro, I want to feel confident that I did my part within the organization to make Portland a better place at the end of DukeEngage.