DukeEngage: The Mountain Movers

Duke engage photo

Left to right: Motin Yeung, Kyle Harvey, Kristen Bailey, Annie Apple

DukeEngage is a Duke University undergraduate program that provides an immersive service experience in either a domestic or international location. Funded by the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, over 3,000 Duke students have served 600 community organizations, in 78 nations, on six continents. The expressed mission of DukeEngage is to educate students through civic engagement and encourage them to share those learned values with the university community.

The 2015 DukeEngage Seattle group came up with our own mission statement: to service the Seattle community through authentic partnerships and meaningful reflection. During the next two months, 15 students will work at 11 placements around the city, aspiring to develop an understanding for nonprofit service work .

For the past several  years, Solid Ground has had a strong relationship with the DukeEngage program and will host the following four students working in various positions this summer:

  • Kyle Harvey’s experience as an editor and writer for the university paper made him a good fit for working with the Communications team at Solid Ground. He will write and edit blog posts, help manage the social media accounts, and potentially create and edit videos.
  • Motin Yeung will work with the Financial Fitness Boot Camp to develop curricula and tools to help low-income households increase financial stability. At school, he concentrates in Markets and Management studies and has a deep appreciation for how financial wellness contributes to stable living.
  • Annie Apple will work with Lettuce Link, splitting her time between helping on the two farm sites, working at the food bank, and performing administrative tasks. Her ongoing interest in public health, social justice, and youth empowerment inspired her to take on this unique combination of work.
  • Kristen Bailey also works with Lettuce Link at Marra Farm. Her work helping to harvest the Farm diverges from her past experiences in Chicago. However as an EMT, Kristen’s seen firsthand how food accessibility creates health disparities between communities.

We named our DukeEngage group the Mountain Movers, as testimony to the substantial challenges Solid Ground and other nonprofits take on, and their ability to incrementally make a large difference.

Learning to write with compassion & understanding

Solid Ground Communications Intern, Kahla Bell-Kato

Solid Ground Communications Intern, Kahla Bell-Kato

My internship with the Communications team at Solid Ground has come to an end, and I can’t help but be awed by my experiences – an education that extends far beyond mastering catchy titles or figuring out Photoshop.

While keeping the audience my focus, it was important to frame my work around the people I write about – our clients. This internship taught me to write with compassion and understanding about subjects I have never experienced. Throughout my time at Solid Ground, I have seen the face of poverty – not the numbers on a chart of statistics, or labels in a book, but glimpses into the lives of people fighting to survive – and it has changed me.

Interviewing employees and volunteers at Solid Ground stands out as my favorite task during my internship. It was incredibly reassuring to see the passion and intensity the people I interviewed expressed about their work. With eyes sparkling, they recounted all the support, aid and comfort their programs provide for their clients. They lamented the struggles their programs face, and begrudged the policies and red tape that perpetuate poverty and oppression. I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with these folks – many of whom have become my role models.

Through anti-racism work at Solid Ground, I have come face-to-face with my own white privilege and have learned that my silence maintains a system of oppression through which I benefit. However uncomfortable these meetings might have been, they gave me fundamental tools to work and interact with diverse groups of people.

From those working on the frontlines to those in the offices at headquarters, everyone is toiling to fashion this agency into a place that holds its responsibility to the community and the people they serve as their number one priority. Their drive and determination to make their community and the agency a better place, despite the struggles and setbacks, has had, perhaps, the biggest influence on me during my time here.

Before taking this internship, I lacked confidence in my skills and was unsure about what career path to take. However, my time at Solid Ground revealed that I have been fortunate – a reality I tend to forget in the day-to-day grind of things. My internship experience makes me grateful for my education and the opportunity I’ve had to fully dedicate myself to this position.

With a Solid Ground spirit, I intend to make the most of all the advantages and opportunities imparted to me. I will take with me far more than I anticipated, the most profound of which, unfortunately, won’t have a place on my resume.

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