Over the last ten weeks, our group of fifteen students has explored the deepest corners of two Durhams that many of my hometown friends have never even heard of. In Durham, NC we learned about the surrounding city and people that often go ignored or undiscovered by Duke students through our worksites and enrichment activities, but much of that exploration remained an individual task. In Durham, England, on the other hand, we were thrown together in a hallway very much reminiscent of boarding school stories. We got to know each other, much more than any of us thought possible at the start or even midpoint of our program, with sayings and habitual acts that few of the people from home will ever hope to understand. We travelled, attempting to be cultured on our two or three days outside the walking (or hiking) town that we wandered through every day. We slept very little and ate very much in an attempt to understand every aspect of English culture, day and night (or at least until the shops' and restaurants' summer hours ended). The theme of our program was economic development, but our experience was so much more than that. We learned about the history of mining culture, walked in commemorative parades, volunteered at festivals and frequented some restaurants to the point of becoming regulars with "the usual" as an accepted form of order. Of course our work with each respective worksite was a significant focus and took up most of our days, but the overall impression that I have of Durham, England is a hodgepodge of riverside walks, boat rides, and countryside hikes, trips to M&S or Tesco, and that one time I visited a full scale prison. I guess it's hard to summarize what we did in a few words, but I know that the people and places I've gotten to know this summer will stick with me for a long time.
Hiya all! So we have come to the end of this amazing ten week service learning experience. We have made new friends both at home and abroad and created new memories. This experience has opened my eyes to the different cultures that can exist at home and of course abroad. Even though Durham, NC is in the states, I saw how different the people were from the people at my home. I enjoyed Durham, UK immensely. My work site was amazing, and I really enjoyed the people I met. Everything from St. Mary's lighthouse to seeing the Tommy soldier at Seaham were great! The learners created a team challenge that I can say I truly enjoyed. This summer has caused me to learn a lot about myself. I also enjoyed the great balance between our service work and our enrichment programs. I feel we truly got to learn about Jordi culture, and I am glad that I had this experience this summer.
Hey there again, it’s me Taylor Dorsey, but now I’m blogging from Durham, England!! My time here in England has been great and I have learned so much about how similar the two cities really. Here in Durham, England the main industry was mining, but not that industry has died and they are trying to rebuild the community through new technological industries. They have set up a tech start-up company called Net Park. This is similar to how Durham, NC has tobacco as the main industry but that left and since Research Triangle Park was created. In fact, Net Park created based on the RTP model. We actually visited Net Park and one of the directors actually talked to us about some of the iniatives they are trying to do there. They have one of the best 3D printing machines in the country and are trying to use this to create alternate sources of energy. There is so much potential in Net Park if it can shift its focus from just being an incubator for these tech start-ups, to trying to create an environment where these companies want to stay. I look forward to seeing how Net Park will change and grow in the upcoming years.
That’s all for now!
Hey guys, it's Cord! For the past four weeks Brian and I have had the privilege to work in HMP Durham prison. I say privilege because we are truly lucky to have had such an amazing, educational, and worthwhile experience. Brian and I worked with the drug and alcohol recovery unit in the prison. Alcoholism and heroin use are very prevalent in the North East of England, and many of the prisoners are addicted to heroin and/or are alcoholics. While drugs are prevalent in the prison, there are the brave and determined ones who are trying to recover. Within the prison, there is exceptional effort put into helping the prisoners wanting to recover from drugs and alcohol.
Our time at the prison consisted primarily shadowing in the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Team office. We attended a wide variety of recovery meetings and one-on-one assessments. We also spent a few days in the recovery wing, which provides a drug-free environment for prisoners to focus on their recovery. We were there to observe, but often we were able to interact with the prisoners and contribute to the meetings.
The most surprising aspect of the prison was how easily received and welcomed we were by the prisoners. From the first day, they were eager to talk to us and ask us questions about America. The longer we were there the more comfortable they became with us. We held engaging discussions with them and were treated as an equal contributor to the group sessions. We even developed meaningful relationships with some of the prisoners whom we saw often. Entering I had some apprehension to working the prison due to the stigma associated with Americans prisons. HMP Durham, however, was not as dangerous as I thought it might be, and I felt safe and comfortable working there. Moreover, I thoroughly enjoyed coming to work everyday and interacting with the prisoners in such a deep and positive way.
This experience has been very educational to me. First, I had never really had a cultural immersion like this. Thisis the first time I had been in England, and my conceptions, primarily based on movies and the few Brits I had met, was that the entire country was proper and posh like London. However, it was very interesting learning about the culture of the North East – the accents, the vernacular, and the people. On the first day, we could barely understand their thick Geordie accents, but now 4 weeks later, we had no trouble carrying on conversations with them. Working in the prison really revealed the effects of the loss of the mines and shipbuilding in the 1970s and ‘80s and how the area has really struggled to recover from it. It was truly and immersive experience and I feel like we have now a good understanding of the culture here.
The other thing I really gained from this experience was a better understanding of addiction. In the US, there is such a stigma against addiction – that it is the fault of the addict. After working in the prison and those trying to recover, my outlook has completely changed. These men have lost everything due to their addiction, and it has taken complete hold of their lives. I have become more empathetic to those suffering from addiction and commend those who are trying to recover. We were able to the various stages of recovery from the ones being initially assessed about their drug and alcohol use to ones working in education programs or Alcoholics Anonymous to the prisoners in the recovery wing who are maintaining being clean. The differences are so stark – their stories and even their physical appearance. To see how positive the effects of recovery are is incredible.
On our last two days, the workers and prisoners continually expressed the appreciation of our time at the prison. At the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, one of the prisoners whom we had gotten to know well spoke, thanking us for our time here and saying how much they enjoyed getting to know us. They presented us each a card signed by many of the prisoners we had become fond of. Then today the members of the recovery wing presented a print of the Durham Cathedral and each signed the back, expressing their appreciation. I am truly touched by how we were welcomed. It made it clear how fulfilling this experience has been, and I am blessed to have this experience.
It’s so hard to believe that the program is almost over. It seems like just yesterday that I set foot on foreign soil for the first time. I can truly say that I’ve enjoyed every aspect of this experience. While in Durham, I worked for Team Durham. Team Durham is the equivalent of American D1 athletics. The organization has three components: perform, community, and participate. During my time, Jessica and I have spent most of our time working with the community but in two radically different ways. The first week and a half we did various sporting activities with groups of vulnerable adults (the mentally ill, recovering alcoholics, etc). I’m definitely no athlete so the week was full of new experiences. I played my first game of organized football; I also tried my hand at curling. These last two weeks, Jessica and I have been coaching at the Team Durham Holiday Camp, a summer camp for kids ages 4-11. We’ve led various activities like volleyball, capture the flag, dodgeball, and treasure hunts.
Hey its Jennifer! My placement whilst here in England has been at a place called Changing Lives. Changing Lives is a national, registered charity which provides specialist support services for thousands of vulnerable people and their families, every month. Specifically I am located at the branch in Chester le Street. This specific branch offers support and housing to single homeless men, including those with substance and mental health concerns. I absolutely love working here and hanging out with the residents. They certainly provide me with a lot of insight into addiction and other ways in which adults can be classified as vulnerable. Ive had exposure to people dealing with mental illness and addictions so this was nothing new and there were no stigmas that I necessarily had to breakdown in terms of mentally ill people and people going through recovery. I think that basic understanding is what gives me the foundation to truly take ore out of this experience. Whilst here Ive had the chance to go to Alcoholics Anonymous sessions and other group sessions similar to this and that is really where I found out about the struggles of having an addiction and mental illnesses in a world where society doesn't accept it and often doesn't provide support. I really do enjoy working at this location because it is real, a lot of the staff are going through recovery or have been homeless as well and so its a place where there is a true sense of community and support from people who have been through similar experiences and I have appreciated my time here.
Hi everyone! It’s Brian again, with just a few days left before the program ends and we head back home. These four weeks have been a tremendous experience for me and I’ve really enjoyed being able to experience a foreign culture here in Durham, England. We’ve had a jam-packed schedule that has included a tour of Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle, a panel with the mayor and other city officials about the economic state of Durham, marching in the annual Miner’s Gala, and a tour of the coal mines at Beamish; all exciting activities that have taught us a lot about the culture of Durham.
For our work placements, Cord and I have been working with the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Team (DART) at HM Prison Durham. DART works with inmates who struggle with substance abuse or addictions and helps them to overcome their addictions and plan for a clean, healthy life once they are released from prison. We have had the opportunity to see almost all facets of their work as well as other similar programs that are going on in the prison, including vocational training, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training). All of these groups have been extremely welcoming to us, and we’ve had plenty of opportunities to chat with the prisoners and get to know them pretty well. It’s been really terrific to get such an up-close look at something that I really didn’t have much exposure to beforehand outside of movies and popular stereotypes. Some of the stories the prisoners have told about their addictions completely took over their lives have been a bit shocking, but there is some really great working being done as they progress in their recoveries. I’ve been overwhelmed with how friendly and open they all are, both amongst each other and with Cord and I. Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience at the prison and in Durham for the past few weeks!
Greetings from Durham, England! It is hard to believe that we have already been here for TWO weeks! Time really does fly when you’re having fun! We have seen all sorts of cultural sights here in Durham, including the Durham Cathedral, the Beamish Mining Museum, and the Miner’s Gala all in our first week! This past week, we attended Jon Faddis’ really incredible jazz concert. It was a lovely complement to the Streets of Brass Festival that we volunteered with earlier in the week. I have a new-found appreciation for jazz and especially the trumpet!
I am working with Jiayu and Juliana at Waddington Street Centre, which is a lovely mental health resource that is nestled just outside the heart of Durham city. This first week, I have been working on the Support rotation. Throughout the course of the next two weeks, I’ll be spending a week in each of the Health Trainer and Education rotations, which I’m really looking forward to. In Support, I spent a lot of time in the main sitting area chatting with various service users throughout the day. One particular service user proved to be especially talkative and I quickly learned that he had worked for fifteen years in the mines of England when he was a young boy. At age 15, he told me, he was too young to enter the military, but he wanted to get a job. He began working in the mines after he completed at 30-week training course (I was relieved to hear that they actually had those!). I couldn’t imagine being lowered down into a 900 foot deep shaft by a rope and pulley system! Apparently, one of the mines he worked in was seven miles below sea level. Wow! It’s really incredible to me to think of the vast differences between being 15 in the 1960s and being 15 today. This gentleman was earning 35 pounds a week doing dangerous and dirty work, while most of us at age 15 are still in the classroom!
Today, Waddington Street Centre had its annual celebration where its many talents and achievements are showcased. We were entertained by the WSC music class with some original compositions and cover songs and I was “wow’ed” by the talented writers and performers in the writing/poetry and drama classes! It was really a lovely day for all, complete with a little awards ceremony for outstanding performances in various classes. Even though I spent a whole week in the lounge area playing games, chatting, and meeting new folks, it was good to see some new faces today, as well! I was very impressed by the turnout for today’s event and also by the overwhelming support of WSC’s service users from the community and the service users’ personal friends and family. It was really such a wonderful day and showed me truly how much WSC means to so many people!
I have really enjoyed drawing comparisons and contrasts between Waddington Street Centre and Threshold, which is the mental health resource where Jiayu and I were placed for six weeks in Durham, NC. I think both facilities have enjoyed hearing the differences and similarities, as well! I am eager to take some ideas inspired by Waddington Street Centre back to Threshold, where I hope to continue volunteering with throughout the rest of my time in Durham.
Hey it’s Courtney again. On Wednesday our DukeEngage group visited Durham Town Hall. Rebuilt in 1851, this building is located in the middle of the city Market Place. Through this experience we got to hear (mostly at least, due to the loud street performer outside) about the history of the Town Hall, including information about the mayor’s guards, civic insignia (the sword, mace, etc.) and of the building of the town hall itself.
The Town Hall houses the Mayor’s Chamber where the mayoral proceedings of Durham take place. We got the opportunity to engage in a panel discussion with the current mayor of Durham, Mayor Jon Robinson, and other notable figures in Durham.
We also heard a very interesting story about a Polish man named Joseph Boruwłaski from the 18th century, who was around 99 centimeters and lived to be 97 years old. He toured around Europe during his lifetime, winning over people with his musical talent and wit, and eventually retired in Durham, England. There was a life sized portrait of him hanging in the Town Hall, as well as a life sized statue. Ultimately it was a very informative and cool experience, as the building was built so long ago and is still used today.
Hello! This is Jiayu, and as is evident from my post title, I’m still not quite over the “I’m abroad” euphoria (even though it’s been two weeks, how did it happen so fast?). We had a packed orientation to Durham the first week, learning about the mining heritage of the area as well as exploring the local culture, as our arrival fortunately coincided with both the Miner’s Gala and the Durham Brass Festival. My personal favourite activities were our trip to Beamish and the tour of the Durham Cathedral (the Miner’s Gala would have been on the list had there been fewer people).
The extremely busy Miner's Gala!
It was difficult for me to fully appreciate the hardiness of the miner’s character just from reading and hearing people speak, but walking into a mine and imagining working in cramped darkness while eating nothing but jam sandwiches made the Miner’s Gala come alive and seem much more relevant. (As a side note, the hatred for Margaret Thatcher is very real. On the day of the Gala, I saw a shirt with the slogan “Rot in hell, Thatcher!”) The tour of the Cathedral was a nice touch into understanding the historical value and heritage of Durham apart from its mining tradition, giving us a better cultural immersion into the town and more to talk about with locals whom we work with (the view from the top is also spectacular and completely worth the climb!).
Durham Cathedral! (Also, Harry Potter!)
Nevertheless, I have to say that the best part of my past two weeks is my placement at Waddington Street Centre! The work culture there (or maybe it’s England) is relaxed and everyone is extremely approachable. It is an interesting transition from Threshold, as Waddington Street Centre has a completely different focus. While we worked on setting up employment opportunities and promoting financial literacy at Threshold, Waddington Street Centre is much more about education, and I spent the majority of my week rotating around to different interest and hobby classes including drama, art, art history, and music appreciation. In fact, the Centre had an awards ceremony today to celebrate learning and education, and we made some paper roses for event decoration!