Angelie Quimbo (’26) is planning on majoring in political science and global health.
Orientation week seems like such a long time ago when looking at how much we’ve already completed this semester, but in reality, it was only a little over 2 months ago. I may be a little biased, but Project Citizen was definitely the best experiential learning program. From forming relationships with fellow freshmen, to being immersed in all things democracy, to say that being a part of this great opportunity is an understatement in itself.
At the beginning of the week, we were presented with guest lecturers— all of whom brought unique perspectives and points to instill in all of us as we navigate through college and professional careers. I entered Duke yearning to engage in quality, constructive conversations with individuals with differing stances as I did. Not only did I have the opportunity to discuss difficult topics with my peers, I also learned how to properly employ the techniques that allow the facilitation of such conversations beyond Project Citizen.
Outside of the formal programing with everyone, I was able to spend quality time with my small group. From touring the campus (including inside Duke’s famously beautiful chapel), to having a close-knit community that felt like a resource if anyone needed help, the presence of a small group allowed the transition into college a much smoother process.
Later on in the week, Project Citizen took on the nation’s capital. I guess it was really exciting to spend as much time in D.C. as I did in the actual Duke campus. When we weren’t exploring the city or touring the monuments, we frequently met in the Duke in D.C. office; one of the most impactful things that I took away from the various speakers and panels that occurred there was when we met Arturo Reyes. Arturo is actually a Duke alum who now currently serves as a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. He shared with us his journey at Duke; much of what he mentioned touched my heart in more ways than one. At the end of the conversation, his story proved to me that the beginnings of one’s story do not determine the ending. I spoke with him one-on-one, and he implored me to take advantage of all the things being taught throughout the program, as well as the various resources made accessible to Duke students who hope to be more politically involved.
At D.C, one of my favorite activities was when PCitizen received the opportunity to watch “The American Prophet”— a musical penned by Chales Randolph-Wright (also a Duke alum). Throughout the musical, we watched the story of Frederick Douglass unravel before our eyes; In this performance, I learned more about the essences of American history that did not make it in our history books. It was truly an amazing experience that was followed by a private meeting with Randolph-Wright and some of the cast. Watching the work of Charles Randolph-Wright made me realize that you do not have to be a politician to make an impact in the realm of democracy.
It seems like there is so much more to say, but I overall, I want to emphasize that Project Citizen gave me a multitude of opportunities that I could not be more grateful for. I know that without such a meaningful experience, the beginnings of my first college semester would not have been as impactful or eye-opening. The things that I have learned throughout Project Citizen are lessons that I intend to carry with me in the years to come.