So this is goodbye…

Well folks, it’s been real. In just 3 days, my entire Moxie summer will be coming to an end.

Crazy, right? It’s been a wild summer, filled with feminist theory, stress, hard work, empowerment, some more stress, and a lot of self-reflection. I’ve learned so much from my site, Queens Family Justice Center, on what it means to be, or provide services that are, “trauma informed”. I also got to work with an AMAZING team at QFJC (if you all are reading this, I’m going to miss you!). In addition to this, I got to brush up on some feminist theory and was able to be in a group of wonderful women who took the time to challenge me and the theories I’m so used to reading as a part of my major. Outside of this, living in a diverse, fast-paced place like New York really allowed me to engage with my work and my academics on a personal level that I will always find valuable. Leaving this place, this program, this group is going to be tough.

Now that I’ll be going back to Durham, and in a short month start school all over again, I wonder how I could transfer all that I’ve learned back to North Carolina. I guess I’ll figure it out slowly, day by day as school gets closer and closer on my radar. What Moxie has taught me won’t go unremembered. If anything, it’ll make my Duke experience so much more meaningful and fulfilling. Hopefully, I’ve been able to provide the same positive experiences for my sites, and for the people I’ve worked with.

In Loving Memory of (TBD)


On Monday, July 10th, my Moxie group attended a screening of the documentary film, Whose Streets?, a film that provides an inside look into the Ferguson, MO Riots. First and foremost, I’d like to state that this documentary is coming to theaters August 11th, 2017, and that it is well worth the watch (regardless of your opinion of Ferguson, MO, Michael Brown Jr, or the Black Lives Matter movement). The film provides an inside-look into the riots from the Ferguson citizens’ perspective, and highlights how the death of Michael Brown Jr. (may he rest in peace) catalyzed the Ferguson community to fight for their rights. Whose Streets? does an incredible job of removing the media-biased information from the riots, while showcasing the positive change that the riots incited, not only in the Ferguson community, but across the United States.


Edward Crawford

What makes Whose Streets? so special, is its ability and willingness to listen to the community’s perspective. Rather than criticizing or condemning the community for their activistic actions (whether peaceful or violent), the directors make the effort to question what brought the community to exhibit those actions in the first place. This is a lesson we ALL need to learn, regardless of the situation. As a tutor in Durham, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that, if children are being difficult in the classroom, it’s not because they don’t want to learn, it’s because they can’t learn. Children might be facing difficulties at home (abuse, neglect, stress, anxiety, lack of food, general worries, etc.) or difficulties in the classroom (anxiety, lack of sleep, learning barriers, etc.) that cause them to act out, in an effort to avoid learning. As a DukeEngage participant, and a Moxie, the same rules apply. If you’re trying to engage in service work (perhaps building schools in rural areas) and the target community isn’t responding, you shouldn’t assume the target community isn’t interested. Rather, you should be wondering what’s preventing them from either being able to respond or wanting to respond. This is solidarity. This is positive change. This is what we need to apply to every interaction we face, every service we provide, and every civil unrest we see.

Darren Seals

The Ferguson riots were not about the burning or the stealing that the media liked to portray, just like an inability to learn is not a disinterest in learning. Instead, this is about a cycle of behavior that reproduces violence. Over and over, we see an overstepping of police enforcement in targeted communities, that results in the abuse and death. In response, targeted communities speak up and fight back, which insights (unfortunately) more police enforcement, and starts the cycle all over again. Whose Streets highlights the importance of how attitudes and perspectives can really change if we dare to take a step back and see the entire picture. If we want to make any difference, claim that we’re an activist, or believe ourselves to be good people, the first thing we need to do is take a step back, educate ourselves, and listen.

Deandre Joshua 

In loving memory of Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo, Manuel Loggins Jr, Ronald Madison, Kendra James, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, those who I failed to mention, and those who I cannot mention yet.

The Real Enemy

I don’t know about you, but I love movies. One of my top go-to movies is The Hunger Games. If you’ve never watched or read The Hunger Games trilogy, in a nutshell, The Hunger Games is the story of a woman who bridges together many districts/cities who were purposefully pitted against each other by the governing Capitol district. The Capitol successfully pitted each district against each other by creating The Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death match where two people from each of the twelve districts participated in and the standing winner was promised a life of riches. Through the Hunger Games, the districts were constantly rivaling each other, never realizing that this was just a tactic to prevent the districts from realizing the true motives of their actual common enemy, the Capitol.

Fast forward to last Saturday night, where our lovely Moxie group watched a play titled Sweat. Sweat presents the lives of several friends who work in the same factory during the early 2000’s. Some of the characters had been affiliated with the factory for around three generations, ever since their grandparents emigrated from Europe. The other characters, minorities, had only just begun to work with the factory within their own generation. Each of the characters were proud to work in the factory, and more importantly, were very proud to be friends. This held true until the NAFTA treaty was signed. When each of the characters realized that their jobs were at stake, and basically that their hard work and contributions to the factory meant nothing, racial tensions started to fly and each of the friendships began to wither away. Rather than direct their anger toward the factories, each of the characters rivaled each other.

So, what does this have to do with The Hunger Games?

While I really love movies and I really love plays, when I left Sweat, I realized that the themes they presented are more than just entertainment, they’re an actual fact relevant to our current existence. These racial rivalries, as a result of public manipulation, aren’t just theories or a fun plot to make the movies interesting. They’re a real issue that we’re dealing with on a daily basis yet often blind to. While we’re busy trying to figure out who deserves the low-paying, exploitative job in the factory, or who deserves to win the mansion at the end of the fight-to-the-death free-for-all, we’re forgetting who’s actually winning the game. Whoever that is, the government, NAFTA, World Organizations, the President, that’s up to you to decide. All I can say is, none of us are winning when we think that the next person stole our job or doesn’t deserve what we think they have. In the end, none of us have been secure in the first place. We need to question why our economic insecurities manifests as racial tensions, and perhaps who is producing them at the origin, because if not:


Ethics of Service

I started my first week at the New York City Family Justice Center, in Queens, with anticipation. As someone who has been working directly with children for 3 years now, I couldn’t wait to keep meeting and spending time with bright new faces! Working with children who witnessed or experienced domestic violence is definitely something new, but I felt like I was ready to do it. On my one hour subway ride to work, I wondered what I’d be getting do with the children this week, what activities we might partake in, how our relationships might form! However, since I hadn’t been cleared by New York State to work directly with children just yet, my first week was just a bit of office work.

After one week, I was finally cleared! Now, I could start being with the children who came in, and provide all that I thought I could. I was ready, I was determined, I was….excited! Nothing makes me happier than working with children. I eagerly waited to hear the news that a child was coming into the center and needed to go into the Children’s Room. As I was waiting, my excitement suddenly felt …wrong. How could I be excited to see children who have or still are suffering from domestic violence (DV)? What am I doing? How could I want them to come into this center, when coming in means that they and/or their families need assistance, safety, counseling? Suddenly, I didn’t know what to feel.

Of course, as someone who will interact with the children and partake in therapeutic play, I may be the first or only person these children open up to or feel comfortable being around, and that’s something to be happy about, right? I will provide something to these children that may be a great step in recovery or a great technique for them to adopt into their lives. Yet, the biggest paradox of all is the fact that without these children suffering trauma, no one at the center would have a job. I don’t know how to sit with myself. Sure, without sick patients, doctors wouldn’t have a job. But what does it mean to be excited to work with children, to make a living or participate in and benefit from a DukeEngage project based off of the trauma of others? Not only this, but, what does it mean for someone who has never experienced or witnessed DV, someone who hasn’t even finished their Psychology degree, to be considered qualified enough to provide trauma informed play for children of DV? These are the ethical questions that I don’t know how to answer, and I don’t know that I will ever get one.

In speaking with my supervisors, co-workers, and Moxies, perhaps I’m overthinking it. While these are the paradoxes of service-work, what truly matters most is the fact that I am here, willing and ready to learn and serve in any way that I can. Hopefully, what I learn and how I serve provides a positive impact, a ripple of positive change, in the life of at least one child suffering from the trauma of domestic violence. What genuinely matters is that I am here to serve in solidarity with these families and work alongside them to provide them with what they want and need, not what I think they’d want or need. Most importantly, advocacy and constant attention is what I need to do to work in solidarity with these families and their experiences, and ease these questions. Perhaps my job and my project survive because of these issues now, but with constant advocacy and attention, I can hope that this job will no longer be needed in the future.


Welcome to: Adulting 101

I’m officially an adult! You’re probably thinking, did Alexandra just turn 18? Well, the answer is no. As a 20-year-old rising Junior at Duke, I’ve been a government certified adult a short while now. But now, with just a few more days until starting the Moxie Project in NYC, I’m starting to feel like a real adult, real fast… and boy, is it scary. 

But Alexandra, you’re pretty independent.” Sure, I’ve been cooking for myself for a few years now, and yes, I’ve dealt with government offices, and yeah, I call to make doctor’s appointments… by myself, thank you. I’d say this is quite the achievement as adult-level status. And yet, the thought of having an actual internship in New York City, managing a strict budget, and applying all that I’ve learned in my Women’s Studies and Psychology courses to hands-on, real life, situations, makes me realize I’m not as much of an adult as I think I am.

During my time at Duke, I’ve held two work-study jobs, jobs tailored to be as accomodating as possible to students and their schedules. Soon, however, I’ll be working with Queens Family Justice Center, assisting with children of survivors of intimate partner violence. Now, I’ll be working a real job, an hour away 9AM-5PM, where the well-being of children of survivors is in my hands. Nothing seems more real than this, and I’m both incredibly excited and incredibly terrified of the experience. What if I have no idea what I’m doing? What if my supervisors don’t like me? What if I do something wrong? Without the Duke bubble safety net to keep me comfortable, I’m having some serious doubts.

On top of that, having a budget and working an hour away from home means I’ll have to do weekly meal-planning and prepping! I’ve always seen meal-planning when it comes to diets. Now, I actually have to know what I want, and make it, in advance. No food points to save me, no skipping meals, and no last minute Chipotle…unless I want to kiss my wallet goodbye.

Regardless of how new this all is, being able to work with my Moxies, developing life-long professional and personal skills, and genuinely practicing all that I’ve learned in class, is an opportunity I’m really lucky to have, and I’m ready for it. I’m ready to take on these challenges and face my doubts. No matter how old, or young, we are, being an adult is a process that takes time, and a lot of discomfort. This summer, I can’t wait to keep learning how to be the adult I want and need to be. I’m ready.