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When we first started the DukeEngage Program on May 30th, I thought I would have plenty of time here in Durham. But as it comes to the end of June, we are already in the 5th week of the program, the last full week in Durham, NC.

The project at the Diaper Bank has come to its last phase—data analysis. After spending one week going to every store, this week I compiled a spreadsheet of more than 3800 lines with detailed diaper options in every neighborhood we focused on. Hopefully, we can make some meaningful analysis and eventually come up with a map that visualizes diaper pricing in Durham neighborhoods.

It was an eventful week. On Monday we went to Sam’s house to have dinner and watch the movie, Billy Elliot. The movie was about a boy from Durham County, England, who became a professional ballet dancer because of his passion for ballet. But the main aim of watching this movie was to develop some understanding of Durham County. The movie was set in the 1980s during the miners’ strike, an effort to prevent colliery closure. But this period of time also marked the downturn of an economy that was so reliant on coal mines. Billy was expected to become a coal miner like his father, his elder brother and thousands of other workers in the county because coal mines were everywhere. Mining was vital to the local economy, just like tobacco and textile industries were in Durham, NC.

On Wednesday, we had dinner together with Mr. Michael Goodmon from the Capitol Broadcasting. Michael grew up in Durham and witnessed the economic and social changes that took place in Durham after the end of the tobacco industry. He and his company were active players in revitalizing Durham’s economy in the early 2000s. It was interesting to know how downtown Durham transformed from a dead downtown to today’s downtown with all happenings. I also admire the efforts Michael put in improving the quality of Durham’s public education system. As a businessman, he did not put all of his attention on making money; he thought about his community, the business opportunities he and his community could both take advantage of.

The DukeEngage team and Mr. Michael Goodmon

This will be my last blog post during our stay in Durham, NC. I have many unfinished stories to tell, about the food in Durham, the first-time experiences I had here, and most importantly about the people. The selfless people I worked with and the friendly people I met on the street are the most colorful chapter of my Durham story.