…Blue Devils were doing what they do best: exploring and learning, and all on Duke’s dime. The Alternative Break Program is an opportunity for students to travel outside of Durham to serve communities, learn about issues, and expand on previous Duke experiences. I had the opportunity to speak with a few students about their spring break experiences in Washington, D.C.
Juniors Erin Sweeney and Courtney Liu attended the DukeEngage Alumni program in Washington, D.C. for an opportunity to reflect on their experiences with Duke’s distinguished service-learning program, and to learn about ways their interests can be translated into rewarding careers. Along with other students on their program, Erin and Courtney visited the Deputy Secretary of State, and lunched with Harris Wofford, former U.S. Senator, founder of the Peace Corps, and special advisor to President Kennedy for Civil Rights. The girls only had incredibly positive things to say about their experiences. “After months of trying to find a way to make DukeEngage into a career and avoiding the onslaught of investment banking recruitment emails, I am so thankful for a trip that introduced me to jobs that make a difference in government and non-profit work,” Courtney told me.
Courtney participated in a DukeEngage program focused on arts education in Zhuhai, China in the summer of 2010. Erin, who participated in a health education program in Haiti in 2011, shared equally favorable sentiments. “My biggest takeaway was if you follow your passion and work really hard, it will lead you to a career that you love.”
Junior Tong Xiang participated in an Alternative Break Program in D.C. with an entirely different focus. Organized by Duke sophomores Minshu Deng and John Scott-Jones, the experience involved teaching a photography class at a public middle school.
Tong appreciated the chance to teach kids how to take self-portraits while meeting other Duke students with similar interests. His experience highlighted how much of our Duke education comes from outside of the classroom. His biggest takeaway? “Being reminded of the wealth of opportunities at Duke, and how important it is to capitalize on everything that Duke offers.”
There’s certainly nothing wrong with renting skis or lounging by the pool during your Spring Break (trust me, I’m guilty on both counts), but knowing Duke students took advantage of the Alternative Break Programs and learning more about what they have to offer was refreshing, inspiring, and humbling. And with that, we can log yet another way Duke’s offerings expand far beyond the walls of lecture halls.
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