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With my last week in Seattle coming to a close, I feel a flurry of emotions. I am happy to be going back home to see family and friends. I am sad to leave behind all of the relationships that I’ve created in Seattle. I am also looking forward to seeing all of the other program participants back at Duke. We have spent close to eight weeks together in Seattle, discussing topics ranging from favorite foods to the environment.

When I first began this program, I was concerned that I would be out of place during this program and at my placement. As an engineer, most of my Duke career has focused on modeling data. I knew that my summer in Seattle would be focused on sustainability and social issues, a far cry from what I study during the school year. At the same time, I was excited to build new skills. On my first day, I learned that I would be helping plan Solid Ground’s annual Food Truck Taste Off. The event was scheduled on the second to last day of the official end of our placements. Although it wasn’t clear to me how I could contribute, I was excited to get started.

My last day at work wasn’t as exciting as the day before (the Food Truck Taste Off). I arrived at 9 am as usual, and it seemed to be like any other day at work. Today, I was finishing up projects at Solid Ground, saying goodbyes, and clearing out my desk. The day was short, as my Fridays usually were. I sent out updates to my supervisors and coworkers, sent out thank you emails to community partners, and then began my goodbyes. I’m not usually a sentimental person. However, the team that I worked with at Solid Ground was unlike any other that I have worked with. The Resource Development team was full of amazing people. I would not have been able to pick a better work or personality match.

On Friday, I sat at the bus stop in front of Solid Ground for the last time. I was waiting for a bus and spent a couple of minutes reflecting on my summer at Solid Ground. I was extremely lucky to be able to see my project through from (roughly) the middle to the end. I got to see the culmination of my work at the Food Truck Taste Off, an experience that not many get to have.

There are plenty of lessons I’ve learned this summer. Always listen fully before speaking and do not be afraid to ask questions. You can waste a lot of time trying to solve problems that others may readily have the answers for. Some problems you should solve on your own, but you can’t always depend solely on yourself. Although this program initially seemed intimidating and scary, I have no regrets about applying. Reach outside of your comfort zone, the results may surprise you.