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Project Citizen 2023 Reflection: Ranjan Jindal (’26)

Project Citizen 2023 Student Reflections:

Ranjan Jindal ('26)

Ranjan Jindal ('26)
Ranjan Jindal ('26)

Ranjan is majoring in Economics and Public Policy with a Journalism Minor

My first community coming into Duke University was found in the inaugural Project Citizen, and it was an immediate introduction into the fascinating Duke community. I learned from wonderful professors, met some of my best friends, and had a wonderful experience in DC. I wanted to be an orientation leader for this year’s Project Citizen in order to give that same positive experience to freshmen that I had.

The first week of freshman year is a stressful time, and I hoped to give a sense of comfort to my first years. Move-in day was organized chaos, and I loved the energy that my fellow OL’s brought. I had grown close to many of them during our training week, and this was valuable in preparing us to lead first-year students.

The first couple of days were characterized by familiarizing everyone with Duke’s campus, and we had the opportunity to meet wonderful and insightful faculty members at dinner. I think a valuable part of Duke is the connections I have made with professors, and PCitizen is a great opportunity to start building those relationships. One of the most important things about being a Duke student is understanding the community off campus and I thought exploring Durham on Monday was a valuable experience. I learned a lot about the city’s history during my time at Duke over the summer, and I enjoyed taking some of my first-year students into the 21c Museum and Hotel and walking past murals of the Pauli Murray Center.

The trip to D.C. demonstrated why Duke is a special institution. The Duke in D.C. office was such a welcoming group that clearly wants to foster the next generation of engaged Duke students. We had a Braver Angels debate which promoted healthy debate among pressing issues, and the first-year students discussed the intersection between technology regulation and online speech. Many of the students were clearly invested in the discourse, a positive step in combating political polarization.

For my group, we thoroughly enjoyed the “Citizen” themed scavenger hunt across the city, where we found multiple monuments, statues and buildings. We witnessed democracy and citizenship firsthand watching protestors for various causes in front of the White House and street signs advocating for civic engagement. The trip truly illustrated what it means to be a model citizen, and we had helpful panels from Duke alumni who described their experiences after college, including Polis Distinguished Fellow John Harwood, who provided analysis of the media’s role in our democracy.

The week was one to remember, and I am really thankful for the opportunity I had to work with PCitizen. In addition, the Polis staff of Professor Rose, Meg Bittle, and Quazha Nettles were instrumental in ensuring the week went to plan, and I am grateful for their work in this orientation.