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I feel like I am stepping into a place and time that you would only read in a book or see in a movie. Uncertainty is all around us, and even more so today. The negative impacts and uncertainties that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this year has made it hard for countless people in our society, whether that be heightening uncertainties over employment, finances, the economy, relationships, or both physical and mental health.

In addition to making many aspects of my life uncertain, the pandemic also threatened to cancel the project my partner and I worked so hard on for the past two semesters. So, when I found out that Duke was offering the opportunity to continue our DukeEngage projects remotely, I was ecstatic! The trust and connection we built with our community partners allowed us to efficiently collaborate and develop a new game plan. Many meetings and even more discussions later, we had a rough idea of how we would bring this project to life remotely. We hope to develop an English version of the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center website that is easily navigable, reduces the distance between the patients and the hospital, and add functions that will allow patients to access information and help beyond the eight hours that the hospital is opened. The ultimate goal, however, is to make this website make resources and information more readily available to their international patients. Additionally, we want to tutor and teach English to patients and the cancer center staff who are curious or want to brush up on their skills, so we plan to create a useful prerecorded English curriculum. Finally, we would like to contribute to Dr. Andrew Huang’s vision of treating patients through mind and body and make music and art more accessible. To accomplish this, we plan on putting together an arts performance video for the hospital and later post our final product on the new website.

Even though uncertainty is feared by many, including myself, I have learned in the past few months that uncertainty brings options and an opportunity to explore them. Although I am saddened by the fact that we do not have the chance to interact directly with our community partner, I am still eager to bring to life a new platform that will be able to help countless patients in the future. I am also looking forward to a new learning experience, strengthening my communication skills, and developing new technical skills such as website and graphic design. But mostly, I am thrilled to work with a community partner so devoted to providing the best for their patients even through this pandemic. I have seen how busy our community partners have been working the past few months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and I admire their determination and hard work.

Uncertainty is an unavoidable part of life. Despite the meetings we have had with our community partner about our new remote project, there are still questions that need to be answered. Which tabs and what information should we keep on the website? What is the best way to distribute our English course videos? How do we get the staff and patients involved in the creation of our virtual performance? Along with these unclear points, some outstanding questions about our partner organization is how we will be able to most efficiently and effectively communicate and collaborate on the website to ensure the best possible outcome.

All in all, instead of looking at these uncertainties with stress and anxiety, I choose to see these uncertainties as new potential. I am looking forward to this project and all of its unpredictable factors because I know that it will only bring me new opportunities.