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Every Friday during lunch, Alex, Jamie, Lulu, and I play a little game to reflect on the past week. We each say something good that happened, something we look forward to next week, and something bad that happened. As the DukeEngage NOLA comes to a close, it’s a fitting way to think about the past eight weeks.

Rose: There’s so many. If I had to pick one, it had to be our weekly guest talks on Thursdays. As an aspiring physician, I was able to see how a career in medicine might intersect with a myriad of pressing issues: child abuse, mental health, police brutality, racism, sexism, natural disasters, substance abuse, stigma around disease, poverty, education, urban development, and so on. Health sits squarely at the intersection of these complex issues, and I wonder how I might address inequality in my own way as an aspiring healthcare provider.

Bud: Returning to some peace and quiet. Also, my piano. I really, really miss practicing piano.

Thorn: I did not imagine the 9-5 lifestyle to be so difficult. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been immensely rewarding to promote emergency/disaster preparedness across the greater New Orleans area. I loved the experience. But…being around the same people for 7 to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, is….a lot, no matter how much you like them. I don’t even spend that much time with my closest friends. In all honesty, I hit a bit of a wall halfway through the program. I was physically and emotionally exhausted – one night, I came home, showered, ate dinner, and went straight to bed at 6:30 pm. I felt my patience running thin. I started to keep to myself more and more. Because I was slow to adapt, I wasn’t able to put more effort into getting to know my peers outside of work. I regret that, because I know that my peers are really awesome and interesting.

Rather than blaming others for my slow adjustment, however, this is an opportunity to take a long, hard look at myself. After all, I deliberately applied to DukeEngage in order to push myself out of my comfort zone. What can I do to be more resilient in the face of conflict, stress, or discomfort? What lessons can I distill from our group’s unique dynamic? How do people become (or not become) closer to each other? What do my peers value, and what do they expect of others? What does good teamwork really mean? What do I like about myself, and what do I dislike about myself? Is it acceptable to write off my flaws because “this is just who I am” or do I have a real obligation to fix them? I’ll be thinking about these questions long after we’ve said our goodbyes. If anything, I know that the 9-5 lifestyle has taught me to cherish alone time even more. Because in the future, I might be working much more than 8 hours a day.


Well, that’s all from me. It hasn’t been all fun and rainbows, but I had a really good time.