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Today I will list some of my thoughts and experiences through the alphabet. The ABCs of my Portland journey!

A – Anecdotes.

I enjoy Monday evening lounge hour with Kate. It is nice to hear about other Duke Engagers’ experiences and workplace stories. It is also fun to see people’s reactions to various stories.

B – Budget.

Living with a stipend has made me more conscious of the purchases I make and how to spend my money in the most efficient manner. I think that experience with budgeting will help prepare me for life after college.


C – Caffeine.

The boost provided by a morning cup of black coffee or green tea has really helped me get my days started. Coffee and tea have become a comforting beverage that help me jumpstart my day. Tasty and energizing!

D – Documentation.

I think that it is important to document life. It is a practice that helps me to reflect and appreciate my experiences. Documentation in the form of drawing, taking pictures, or writing are all great ways for me to express my thoughts and feelings.

E – Environmentalism.

I have learned a lot more about being more environmentally friendly and creating environmentally friendly policies through my work and life in Portland. Many of the people around me are very environmentally conscious, which has helped me learn more about best practices for protecting the planet.

F – Food cart pods.

I hope to try dishes from more food cart pods around Portland. I think that the food cart pods are an interesting way that small businesses have utilized space in the city. The food carts come in handy when I feel too tired to cook a meal, or just want to try something new.

G – Green.

Going back to letter “E.” I have seen a great emphasis on being green and preserving greenspaces in Portland. Whether it be recycling efforts or nature restoration, I have seen a wide range of efforts to help the environment in Portland. I appreciate the amount of trees and greenery present in the urban areas of Portland. The most beautiful time of day to look at the trees, in my opinion, is when the sun is beginning to descend and the light passes through the leaves at just the right angle (sorry it is hard to describe the proper time). There is a soft glow surrounding the leaves, something that isn’t as noticeable under direct sunlight or on a cloudy day.

A photo of sunlight and shadows reflected on the grass of Washington Park. 
A photo of sunlight and shadows reflected on the grass of Washington Park.

H – Habit.

It is important to form good, healthy habits that help with work and life. Whether it’s creating a checklist of goals at the beginning of the work day, or making sure to have breakfast in the morning, I think that creating helpful habits makes me feel more prepared for my day.

I – Independence.

I like the independence I have had during this program. I have become more self-sufficient and confident in my abilities.

J – Jot.

Jotting down notes and thoughts during meetings or interviews is an important way to document thoughts and new knowledge. Writing quick notes about key phrases or terms in my workplace has helped me with learning more and being actively engaged.

K – Kale.

My appreciation for kale has grown during my time here. I have realized that it is quite a versatile and delicious vegetable. I eat kale almost daily. I would say that it is one of my favorite vegetables.

L – Lavender.

I have become inspired to grow my own lavender, after visiting a lavender farm on Sauvie Island. The beautiful flowers are fragrant and seemingly hardy. The farm’s resident “lavenderologist,” Julie, convinced me that gardening is a worthwhile endeavor.


A photo of dried lavender bushels at the Sauvie Island Lavender Farm. 
A photo of dried lavender bushels at the Sauvie Island Lavender Farm.

M –  Mountains.

I love seeing the mountains in the distance. Sometimes I can only see the silhouette of the mountains. Other times, I can see the snow-topped caps of the mountains.

A photo of the Portland cityscape, with Mount Hood in the distance. 
A photo of the Portland cityscape, with Mount Hood in the distance.

N – Nellie.

Nellie is one of the sweetest dogs I have met. I love when she accompanies the DukeEngage group at dinners or outings. She is the best mascot for our group!

A photo of Nellie on July 4th at Mount Tabor.
A photo of Nellie on July 4th at Mount Tabor.

O – Observation.

I enjoy taking time to observe and appreciate my surroundings. For me, taking time to consider my surroundings stimulates introspection.


P – People.

I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people in my workplace and in Portland. I love hearing people talk about what they are interested and passionate about. Being able to listen to more people has given me the opportunity to learn more and find more topics to research and become interested in. I am grateful that I am able to learn and work with people who are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their work.

Q – Question.

I have enjoyed being able to ask questions and learn more from people in my workplace. I also like learning more from my peers and their experiences at their different community partners.

R – Reusable bags.

I have learned to bring my reusable Trader Joe’s bags with me, whether I am going to buy groceries or household supplies. I have noticed that many people here tend to bring their own bags when shopping. In fact, some stores offer a minor discount if you bring your own bag. Those 50 cents sure can add up when you need to be conscious of your stipend!

S – Snacks.

Snacks are an important thing to have, whether you have a busy workday, or a weekend excursion. Snacks like fruits and vegetables are a healthy and filling way to keep yourself going through the day.

T – Transportation.

The public transit available in this city makes exploring and moving from place to place convenient. I enjoy taking the MAX Light Rail on my way to and from work everyday. Sitting on the tram, looking out the large windows, listening to my music, is a nice way to start and end my work days. I especially enjoy when the tram passes over the Willamette River.

A photo of the seats on the MAX Light Rail.
A photo of the seats on the MAX Light Rail.

U – Umbrella.

The weather in Portland has been great. Low humidity (compared to North Carolina!) and mostly clear skies. However, it is always good to have an umbrella on hand in case a light shower begins!


V – Vibrant.

Portland is a vibrant and lively city.


W – Walking.

I have enjoyed the ability to easily walk from place to place in the downtown area. I think that this city is quite walk-able.


X – X-ray.

Sorry, this one is a bit of a stretch. It was difficult to find a word that starts with “x” to use. I have learned that there are many layers that must be addressed at my work. People do not have x-ray vision and are not always cognizant of the many intersecting and overlapping issues present. Thus, many factors and systems must be taken into consideration when creating policies that are equitable and just.

Y – Yay!

I am so appreciative of the opportunities I have with DukeEngage.

Z –  Zealous.

I hope to bring enthusiasm and eagerness to my work and life in Portland.

Thank you for reaching the end of this blog post! I did not think that it would end up being this lengthy. I apologize if a few letters were a bit repetitive. I appreciate your time taken to read my thoughts!