Parent Reflections

We asked parents to reflect upon the experience they had with our staff and the experiences that their students had, here are some of the responses we received from parents;

The classroom guest speakers and labs were fabulous!  My son has not quit talking about it!  He made some amazing friends from all parts of the world!

Academically perfect.  Amazing campus.

The academic class that was offered exceeded our expectations. The caliber of the professors and the support provided the students were exceptional.

My son got a chance to enjoy college culture and became a part of college life. The class he took triggered his passion to become a doctor even more. The program also motivated him even more to pursue his goal of studying medicine.

My daughter experienced life as a full-time student on a college campus.  There were current Duke University students in her class, and she found it invaluable to talk to them and gain firsthand insight about the college.

Nice people, good organization, and excellent campus

I was astonished you were able to deliver so effectively on the stated goals in such a short period of time. My child demonstrated a deep understanding of the knowledge and skill she was taught. She was also exceptionally motivated and engaged. Truly fun learning. Exceeded my expectations.

It is a great opportunity for kids to get exposure to the career they want to pursue. It will give them a platform to explore and understand what it takes to be what they want to be and to be successful.

Send your kid!  It’s a once in a lifetime experience unlike anything else!

It provided a great introduction to college life.  My son met some great students from around the world.

Outstanding opportunity for a mature high school student to really experience Duke while learning and broadening their perspective on continuing their education.

It is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to cutting edge research in biomedical engineering while learning what life is like on a college campus.

The Duke Summer Academy provided an amazing opportunity for our daughter to experience life on a college campus managing herself in academic and social situations.  The program allowed an introduction to dorm life, social situations, interactions with professors, college classroom experiences and exposure to a multitude of laboratory opportunities.  My daughter was exposed to laboratory experiences in disciplines she had not explored before this summer.  This program was such a positive growth experience for our daughter that it confirmed for her that Duke is her front-runner for undergraduate studies.

I would recommend it to everyone.  The experience gained is well worth the tuition, and the course contents were very challenging for my son.

It was a fantastic program that provided sufficient support and freedom for students to engage and succeed in academically challenging classes with college-level students. The dorm experience mirrored the first-year experience in many ways, while providing the necessary structure for parents to feel secure that their children were being looked after at an appropriate level. I would recommend it most highly.

My daughter grew immensely and met so many people she would have never met otherwise. This experience opened her eyes to the communities that form and support each other on college campuses.

It was the best opportunity for my son to learn what it is like to attend college and make your own decisions. It was the closest thing at sixteen he could come to being an adult on his own. It also gave him a head start because now he knows what he’s getting into when he does go off to college full time. I believe he is better prepared, has learned information on a topic he has a passion for, and is more motivated to continue pursuing his goals.

Student Quotes

We asked Summer College and Summer Academy students to reflect on their time in just a few short words, here are some of the responses we received;

“I feel more confident putting myself out there for colleges to evaluate me.”

“It has helped me to discover the lifestyle I choose to live.”

“When I came here, I learned a lot about myself.”

“It made me a lot more attentive and active.”

“Helped me to organize my lifestyle and I learned the importance of routine.”

“This is something I really benefitted from.”

“I really enjoyed mingling with people from other countries and the exchange of cultural information.”

“It helped me discover what is the lifestyle that really suits me.”

“I’d recommend this program for people who are willing to discover more about themselves or willing to learn more about people from other places in the world.”

“This place helps you to reach your full potential in my opinion.”

“Coming to Duke helped me to become more independent and to connect with a lot of awesome people.”

“I got to literally learn something new every day!”

“By far the best experience I have had academically.”

“I feel more confident putting myself out there for colleges to evaluate me.”

Parent Letter

My wife and I would like to thank you and your team for such an incredible and successful program you have led this summer.

My son, Kaan attended the 2017 Summer Academy for High School Students program and was given a once in a lifetime experience through the highly motivated and professional team whom were very friendly, cooperative and knowledgeable. The wonderful interaction with the staff began from the application process until Kaan’s departure from the program. Since we live in Dubai, we wanted to drop him off to Duke University ourselves. We were all impressed with the beautiful campus. My seven year old daughter wanted to stay behind and attend the program with Kaan! I had to promise her to send her to the same program when she became 15 years old.

Kaan attended The Global Entrepreneur program and returned home with excellent memories and learning experiences whilst making new friendships with other brilliant students from all over the world. He said he not only enjoyed every moment whether it be during the classes, wonderful activities such as dance parties, hiking trips, and other field trips, but also the great feeling of experiencing a typical life at Duke University.

I highly recommend this program to everyone who is looking for an amazing and enriching summer experience.

Korhan Durmus


Student’s Small Moments

The program has been amazing. I’ve mostly enjoyed the environment of being in college for four weeks. Also, meeting people from distinct cultures and ethnicity has helped me a lot to expand my world view. In the end, I’ve made excellent friends that I surely won’t ever forget. Thank you Duke! – Abel De Varona
Hi, this is my blog. it was really cool getting to spend time here at Duke, i really enjoyed it. first, the food here is really good, there r lots of options and i dont
even know which one to choose everyday. another cool thing is meeting different people, i am happy to learn from people from all over the world. it was fun watching spider man for a second time with my hall-mates, i really took the advantage by just being here (the film is not out in china). the class i’m taking is super cool, i was reallt excited learning stuff from my professor, and when we took a tour to the lab, the microscopes i saw were another level. the images i saw were so cool that i just generated more passion about biology. anyway, everything is good, and i look forward to a perfect ending. – Stark Bi
My favorite part of the day is nightly news. We meet as a floor at 9:30 pm. I think nightly news could be improved. The news should be sent via email. If this happened, we wouldn’t forget it. The news could be shorter, as we wouldn’t spend time going over announcements, but simply checking people in. – Nikhil Gopal
I really love Duke. The summer college is really a fantastic experience. We have the coolest friends here. My class, linguistic, has a professional and helpful professor. The environment and atmosphere here are perfect and flawless. I would take Duke as one of my dream colleges now. – Jason Zhou
One of my favorite things about this summer session is the dances. The classes here are very fast and rigorous so we something to help us relax. The dances are pretty fun since we get to spend all night with our friends and just hang out. – Chris Ajoa
One of the most beautiful moment in my life. I have good relationships with my roommate and classmates. I get used to work out every day. Awesome dancing in the weekends as we got the best DJ in America. Having a taste of life in university and find my position. As long as you start talking about it, you will think of everyone.
– Brayan Zhang
Last Saturday, our RA group went to the movies to see Christopher Nolan’s Durkirk. Because of the craziness of public transportation, we arrived an hour and a half early. While waiting, we hung out at the mall and touring the shops. Some of us spent that time dropping quarters and dimes in this giant swirly bowl that makes the coins roll around the edge forever before finally dropping into the mall’s fund box. I estimate we contributed around 5 bucks to the mall out of pure generosity. That’s just one way that Duke summer session helps out in the community. – Henry Alford
I love Duke. I learned to arrange my learning when free. I tried to work out my body even when tired. The library make me absorbed. The gym make me excited. I will never forget the dance and the basketball match. Most of all, the wonderful nightly news held by the more wonderful Isabella. – Howard Hou

Taking A Peek Into the Leadership Classroom Pt. 4

TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2017


Aaron Spruill


Today we headed to the library to do some pre-presentation practice with some teams from the global entrepreneur group. We were each sectioned into rooms with one entrepreneur team and presented our project, received feedback, and offered feedback after the entrepreneur group presented. This exercise helped hone our teamwork skills, public speaking skills, and our presentation. My group used the feedback to add features to our app, and alter a few things in our presentation in order to do our best tomorrow. We also made decisions like who would present each section of the PowerPoint, the depth of each section, and our opening. This was our final day in the leadership segment of the course. We will miss Stephen and Vanessa.



Will Thurman

Today we did our group presentations about our leadership problems and how we would solve them. My group talked about peer pressure and we made a website to describe the problem and how to solve it. The winning group was the “I Got You” team which described the problem of being judged and how to fix it. My favorite presentation was the “Power On” presentation, because they presented lots of good data and had a great slogan. Tomorrow we will get our new teachers and begin the diplomacy unit.


            Today marked the official end of the leadership portion of our course. I was initially nervous for my presentation, we applied the technique of mindful breathing at the start of class as a calming mechanism. I felt a certain satisfaction in beginning our final leadership class by utilizing the very tool the course emphasized in a practical manner; it prompted recognition that I indeed had learned something in the prior 10 days. Ranging from safely achievable to ambitiously creative, the presented solutions were somewhat interesting to listen to; I admittedly began to lose interest as the presenters grew listless. Thankfully, the time limit of 5 minutes turned out to be more of a flexible suggestion at best, with many groups, mine included, significantly surpassing the recommended time. Both our current and future instructors for the program were in attendance for the presentation and seemed pleasantly surprised at some of the groups’ competence.

After the presentations concluded, Stephen and Vanessa brought our class outside for one last activity that involved high-fiving our peers and would supposedly relieve us of any unwanted exuberance before our first diplomacy class. At the conclusion of the activity, we bid Stephen and Vanessa a tearful (or cheerful, depending on the person) goodbye and sat through yet another PowerPoint presentation, this time to learn more about our diplomacy teachers. Following the presentation, we played an ice-breaker name game that encouraged focus and international awareness by forcing us to introduce ourselves and a contemporary global issue after repeating the name and global issue of the previous people. Evidently, this was more serious than the lighthearted spirit animal name-game we played in leadership. Unfortunately, this game brought with it an unwanted revelation: I was largely ignorant of pressing issues on the international stage. Interestingly enough, each class’s chosen ice-breaker activity provided a relatively accurate preview of what to expect from the class. The leadership portion of the program was, like its spirit animal icebreaker game, unconventional, informal, and somewhat unorthodox in its content matter. Similarly, the diplomacy course, which will likely be more intensive and traditional in its teaching methods, utilized a more serious variation of a commonly used name-game. Anyways, I digress. A few quick polls about ourselves and major global issues ended our first official diplomacy class. Although our first class was rather uninteresting (as first days usually are), for now I’ll suspend my judgement on the subject matter.




Diplomacy is the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad. On Thursday, July 27, we entered into the next half of our course. Politics, IR, states, and more consumed our discussion for the day. We began by talking about the top 3 problems that our class decided were the most important, through an anonymous vote. The most prominent issue was the environment, with poverty coming in second and war/terrorism in a close third. Doing this gave everyone a good sense of what we, as a class, were thinking of when we talked about world problems.

We then went on to talk more about IR, and defining important terms. One of these terms was “state”, which is more commonly known as a country. We discussed international organizations, which are made up of states, and then nongovernmental organizations, such as businesses and non-state armed groups.

However, the highlight of the day, in my opinion, was learning about the types of states, hard power, and soft power. There are four types of states we examined; the hegemon which is the number one power, the great powers, rising powers, and developing countries. We did an activity in which we broke into groups and were assigned one of these types of states. We talked about the biggest issues facing our respective categories and came up with a slogan that we felt best represented these struggles. When our class discussed these, we were taught about two things that categorized the countries into their types of states. The first thing that influenced it was hard power, which is best exemplified as military force. The next topic was soft power, or influence from things like media, celebrities, athletes, people in power, movies, music, and more. After this, we broke up into groups of our choice and made “power meters”. These meters were designed by us to determine the hegemon through the use of statistics and our own creativity. This activity taught a lot about how the factors of hard and soft power affect all countries. Overall, it was a very interesting and thought provoking first full day of diplomacy.


In class the teachers began the lesson by introducing diplomacy and international relations. Then we started to talk about jobs and leadership roles that are tied to international relations. Some of them were: the president, the UN, leaders of countries and more. People who work with international relations are called actors/players. We also learned what states, sovereigns, and stateless nations are. In addition, we learned what hegemons, great powers, rising powers, and developing countries are. learned Then we did an activity where we wrote three concerns our assigned state may have. We ended that day with a group activity where we used what we learned about soft and hard power to create a power meter for determining the powerful and weak countries. Some measures my group used were number of military troops, number of hospitals/access to medical care and more. This was a great activity that allowed me to better understand the concepts that we learned in class today.


FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017


In the morning, we finished making our power meters and then walked around the room to see how each group measured power differently. Many groups focused on the economics such as GDP and military size. We then watched Hans Rosling’s video which measured health and wealth over 200 years in 200 countries, showing significant progress throughout the world. Next, we watched two videos on the theories of realism and liberalism and discussed their key concepts. Realism is all about the importance of states and how they focus on their own power and security, not trusting others for support, giving a more pessimistic view of the world. On the other hand, liberalism is more optimistic as it focuses on cooperation for the collective good through international organizations such as the UN.

After lunch, we made up our own countries with pocket guides to both theories and which one we preferred. Some people went to the front to explain their ideas to the class like in Model UN. Finally, we looked at different cultures by choosing our favorite dish from our culture and explaining why it is the best. I think that learning about the concepts of realism and liberalism was very interesting as it has affected many of the decisions that politicians have had to make in the past, the decisions they make in the present, and the ones they will make in the future.


Today in class, we shared our point of views on global issues such as global warming, poverty and terrorism. In class, we talked about five key terms: politics, diplomacy, international relationship (IR), types of states (hegemony, great power, rising power and developing country) and international organization (IO).

To me, the most interesting part of the class was learning about the different types of states. First, is the hegemon. When I think about a hegemon, the first country to jump into my mind is America, which is the is one of the most powerful country in the world. The data below will emphasis the reason why America is the hegemon. America’s service industry takes up 76.8% of GDP, which means it would be easier for them to recovery from an economic crisis. When I think of a great power, I think of China. China is a fast-developing country and has some world-class cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. In my mind, a rising power is very similar to a great power. Finally, developing country is a well-known kind of country in our mind. The “BRICs” (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), as the main representatives of the emerging countries, are admired for their economic size and growth rates, while foreign direct investment and trade have played an important role in promoting economic growth. These five types of countries are all competitive.

I have learned a lot from the class and I really enjoy the new teachers. I can’t wait to continue to learn throughout this course, particularly about politics since I rarely get to learn about it in my classes in China.

MONDAY, JUY 31, 2017


In our class discussion, today, we discussed the importance of culture and cross-cultural discussion, and the overall importance of learning about other cultures. My two favorite activities surrounding the lesson were a language lesson and a “culture snapshot”. In the language lesson, we had native speakers of Mandarin and Cantonese come to the front of the class to teach us some simple phrases in those languages. In the “culture snapshot” activity, each member of the class was asked to take a picture (hence the name snapshot) of something that we believe encompasses a part of our culture. I took a picture of an American Oak with the caption “roots in American soil”. I chose this because while I have roots in American soil, like a tree. I like to branch out and absorb all the information (in this analogy it would be sunlight) that I can.


In today’s Leadership (diplomacy) class we mainly focused on the culture part. In my point of view, the highlight of today’s class was the Chinese teaching activity. To be honest, after struggling with the definition of some terms about culture in the morning, I got exhausted and bored. When I came back from lunch, I was surprised that someone wanted to teach all the other classmates Chinese. Because more than a half of the students in our class haven’t studied Chinese before, the pronunciation part became really hard (that is definitely the most important component in Chinese). I also helped Kema on pronouncing characters. During that time, the class was filled with laughing and amusement.

By the way, I realized the culture diversity is very common. There are a number of differences between American culture and Chinese culture and some of them are pretty interesting. For instance, “666” in America represented a devil but in China it conveyed ones’ appreciation when somebody had done a great job!



Kema Leonard

“Culture and Constructivism”

At the beginning of the afternoon class at the Duke Summer Leadership Program, we continued to look at different states (countries are what we call them outside of the diplomatic world) and how their food, economy, languages, and gender roles affect their cultures. Then we took all the states’ cultures and compared them to one another, noting the similarities and differences, big and small.

From there, Dr. Fisher and Mrs. Lawson explained to us how cultures can clash with each other, which can then lead to culture shock. Culture clash happens when different cultures enter a conflict with each other because of opposing values and opposing beliefs. Culture shock is the disoriented, confused feeling people get when they find themselves in an unfamiliar culture. To help demonstrate ways to familiarize yourself with different individuals’ cultures, Dr. Fisher and Mrs. Lawson selected volunteers to go up to the front of the class and teach everyone about their native language that is associated with their culture. Therefore, not only did I learn how to combat culture clashes and shocks, I also learned a little bit of Chinese, Spanish, Mandarin, and Tagalog!

Another thing that I learned today is that there is another theory that goes with Liberalism and Realism and that is Constructivism. The Theory of Constructivism is, essentially, the claim that significant aspects of International Relations (IR) are historically and socially created, as opposed to being consequences of human nature or world politics. This theory is contrary to the theory of Realism, which states that all humans are inherently evil and, because of this, no other state is truly your ally.

Constructivists go on to say that not everything is as it seems and that everything a state does is because of its identity and how it portrays itself to the rest of the world. But one idea that I found particularly intriguing was that all ideas and non-physical things in politics are solely built upon the collective human belief that it exists in the first place. We, as humans, are the ones that give it value, meaning, and reality. An example of this would be that without humans agreeing that this $10 bill is worth a chicken sandwich or a monthly Spotify subscription, it would just be a rectangular, thin piece of green paper with writing on it. It takes humans to give it value and reality. Though I’ve thought about this concept before, it never truly sunk in in a profound manner. Now that it has, I’m looking at the world through a whole different lens. With this knowledge, I’ve learned so far, I’m one step closer to becoming a great diplomat and a great leader.



In our Global Leadership class, we discussed the problem in Syria today. By watching an explanatory video, we got to know the brief evolutionary history of this international issue. The issue was a total mess and was related to many different international actors, including major powers such as: The United States, Russia, and other minor forces like the Assad and Syrian rebels. We learned that the conflict in Syria was a typical proxy war, referring to a conflict between two “states” where neither entity directly engages the other. It seemed that the Assad government and the rebels are two most obvious components in the war; however, many different forces supported one side and provided them with assistance.

We were also asked to think about the responses that the United States has had in these international affairs and determine whether its actions are based on the theory of realism, liberalism, and/or constructivism. Realists prioritize the state’s interest and support power and security, while liberalists focus on cooperation between states and reflection on history to gain experience. Constructivists, on the other hand, emphasize a set of social norms. We all tossed around various ideas and thoughts and had a very profound discussion.

Before lunch, all students were assigned into 14 different groups that were to represent a country. To determine the characteristics of each country (like the population of the country, its vulnerability to climate change, its resources, its government structure, etc.), a member from each team come to the front and drew out of a hat. After that, each group worked to make a unique poster for our own country that displayed the characteristics determined by the hat, as well as, their flag, geography, culture, minority and women’s rights, and any other aspect of their country that the team deemed important.

After lunch, every group dispatched one ‘ambassador’ to tour around the classroom to communicate with the representatives of other countries. Meanwhile, the executive of each country was called to another classroom for a meeting with the hegemon. In that meeting, the executives learned that the council would be addressing the issue of global warming by having a series of unmoderated and moderated caucuses to discuss the issue at hand and to come to a resolution about the optimal solution to global warming. The delegates representing their country vividly presented their proposed solutions and the audiences asked challenging questions and expressed their personal concerns during the presentations, which pushed the delegates to work harder to find the best solution for everyone. It was a challenge for everyone to present their position in the allotted amount of time, but everyone ended up doing a great job even if they hadn’t finished preparing for their speeches. We haven’t finished yet, but we will carry on tomorrow. Everyone had such a great time that the discussions about each country’s solution continue well after class was dismissed. Everyone is very excited to continue with the activity tomorrow.

The best part is that we did not just participate in an activity, but we gained a lot of knowledge that will be beneficial throughout our whole lives. Before we were assigned this task, some of the students were even not aware that global warming was an issue, or at least didn’t understand the seriousness of the issue. By engaging in researching, discussing and presenting, everyone obtained a bunch of information that they have never knew before. It was also exciting to see that everyone got increasingly more serious and into the activity the more they learned about global warming. It seems, to us, that everyone in the class is now passionate enough to begin on their own efforts to reverse the trend of global warming, which is a priceless takeaway to have from this class. Global warming is not something we only talked about, but something each of us are trying to fix in our own lives now!

No, Thank you!

As finals start wrapping up, happiness and kindness are overflowing on Duke’s campus. Saying thank you to each other would simply never be enough. As students pour into offices with momentos, it just further reminds the staff why we chose to spend our summer with these students! It has been an incredible journey. Thank you to all of the students! We will miss you greatly but we know that you are all going incredible places in life.

Good luck <3

Global Researcher Takes the Medical Center

Today the Global Researcher class had the opportunity to tour the Duke University Medical Center. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that simply sitting in the emergency helicopter for a few minutes and having the opportunity to talk to the emergency nurses and question them was inspiring beyond measure. While looking at the ambulances downstairs, my friend and I turned to each other, eyes wide, and whispered how excited we were to one day have the chance to become doctors and scientists. Standing on the landing pad with the wind whipping our hair seemed to give us a definite end goal to our dreams; it was truly an experience we’ll never forget!

-Gabrielle Levy

Erinn and Rahul: Global Researcher Reflections

“I am a participant of the Duke Summer Academy Global Researchers program. I had applied for this program because I was interested in aspects of biomedical engineering, but not quite sure how to get into the area of it that I wanted. It was only two weeks into the camp when knew that applying was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This program had allowed me to network with a variety of professors and college students, and the discussions I have had with them were very beneficial. In the fit brick lab that we do for the program, I met two Duke students; Alonso Trejo-Mora and Brinnae Bent. They graciously stayed after class one day to talk with me. I told them that I wanted to work with Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI), but wasn’t sure how to get into that field. To my delight, I discovered that both Alonso and Brinnae work in BCI for Jonathan Viventi in Viventi Labs. Matt Brown, the person in charge of the fit brick lab, was listening in and suggested that they give me a tour of Viventi Labs, and they both happily complied. After getting it cleared by the administration, I got to see all the work they do and it was absolutely amazing. Everyone in the lab was happy to answer all of my questions, and I ended up learning a lot. A few days after my tour, Jonathan Viventi gave a lecture for the global researchers. I talked to him briefly after his lecture and planned to meet with him later to talk more. Later in the week, Rahul Dev, another global researcher, and I met with Viventi. He was very kind to take time out of his day to talk to us and answer all of our questions. Between the advice given to me from him, Alonso and Brinnae, I was able to decide that I want to major in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and minor in neuroscience to prepare for the work I want to do. I came to this camp to try and figure out my path, and I was able to do exactly that because of the numerous opportunities I was given. By putting in a little effort, I was able to create many connections within the BCI community that I hope to join eventually. I am a gymnast, and my close friend and teammate suffered an injury that left her paralyzed. The work that is being done in Viventi Labs, and other BCI labs around the world, gives me hope that there will one day be a solution that allows her to walk again, and my experiences at Duke give me hope that I can be a part of that innovation. I think I can speak for everyone at this camp when I say that participating in this program was the perfect investment for our future, and I can’t thank any of the people that made it possible enough.”

-Erinn Fagan



“I entered this distinguished program searching for a new experience. For the past two years, I have been working in a retina-specialized clinic as an ophthalmic technician. I have checked hundreds of patients’ eye pressures and taken equally as many scans of their eyes (OCT). It was in this program where I found a way to connect that work to Biomedical engineering. In each of our morning lectures, I found out different research practices and learned and how studies are conducted. However, it wasn’t until a lecture by Jonathan Viventi where I really saw it all come together. He talked about his work in Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI), and I found many connections between his work and my job as well as my family’s health history. He works in a field that has been creating solutions to Parkinson’s, a disease that I have watched progress in my Grandfather, and creating better cochlear implants, a device that was implanted into my before-deaf cousin at a very young age. I had never seen a field that allowed me to create so many mental anecdotes before. So here I am, a student whose interests have ranged from pre-med to business being introduced to a completely new field I hadn’t even heard of. I emailed Mr. Viventi shortly thereafter and set up a meeting the following day. As I was leaving my lab before the meeting, I began talking about BCI in an unrelated setting once again with Erinn Fagan, another global researcher. I talked about how I was planning on meeting with Mr. Viventi, and we ended up going to the meeting together. He gave me strong ideas and another potential path for my future. So now here I stand, with just a week left in the program, with now a completely new potential career path in my mind. Needless to say, I have now found a new favorite topic and am excited to see what college holds for me next year. I can’t wait to refer back to this and see what happens.”

-Rahul Dev


(From Left to Right) Erinn Fagan, Jonathan Viventi, Rahul Dev


The Homestretch

It’s the homestretch.

In just a few days, I will be back in my room in Jersey, reminiscing about my time at Duke. Those final papers, presentations, projects, reports, assessments and so on are consuming our minds now, but will feel like a distant memory after we leave here, our home. But there will always be the moments that will forever live in our minds, always fresh as new: eating daily crepe breakfasts at The Cafe, stalking the Duke Men’s Basketball team ’til we get a photo with them, Snapchat fights over which dorm building reigns as the best (a.k.a. Kilgo Squad), partying in the common room until the 2:00 A.M. curfew (only on weekends though), exploring what 9th Street has to offer, sweating furiously to American and Korean Pop dances alike, laughing so hard with one another that our stomachs hurt.

These are the moments to live for and to cherish in our hearts forever. Although the chance of having a reunion halfway across the globe is slim to none, at least I have all of your Instagram handles. 

– Emme Leong 

Nina’s Nasher Trip

After my arrival on campus, I learned that Duke University had its own art museum and I decided that I needed to make a visit. The Nasher Art Museum ended up being the perfect way to spend my last Saturday morning with two of my hall mates. We meandered through two galleries: the Collection Galleries and All Smatterings of Mind: Transcendent Imagery from the Contemporary Collection, both of which mesmerized me from the start. Nasher has a plethora of all forms of art, ranging from sculptures to paintings, and even a short film. After sitting through She Gone Rogue, I realized that I had made the right choice, not only about going to the art museum but about attending the 2017 Duke Summer College Session.

-Nina Robertson

Highlights: A Student Reflection

During the past two weeks in Duke, I found this university fills with passion and joy. The course I chose, The Hard Truth of Evolution, has never got me feel bored: I love Darwin’s theory of evolution, and willing to see how it struggles to battle creationism. Also, the reading and assignments showed me what a college life is like. After this summer session, I am sure that I will adapt to university life easily and quickly.
Besides, Duke holds fun events every weekend. Watching movies, Blue Devil’s Day and the dance party made us students relax after studying for a week. I cannot dance, but I love to watch and feel the music pumping in my heart. I like to see people around me “play hard”. Also, going hiking in the garden is the best way to get close to nature. We can see some unique plants there, and squirrels enjoy there too. The gardens must be so adorable that once we saw a wedding in the White Garden.
My daily life at Duke is like this. When I stay in my dorm, I am always satisfied with it. I can get nearly anything from the store, and I can go to both street if I want. A single room offers me a place to make milk tea, congee and eat. I always share them with my friends.

College Expo 2017


Today one of our Onsite Directors, Ashley Wilson, led the college admissions Expo! Students were able to go over things like; “How to finalize Your College List”, “What Colleges Are Looking For”, “Tips on Writing College Essays”, and more!

Following Ashley’s presentation Zhenyu gave a presentation on a app called “Happen”. The app is the first Chinese app that consolidates US college and university social media feeds on your smartphone. It provides a platform to keep students updated with the newest developments in the university, and to help you find your dream school.

9th Street Outings

Many students on there free time get to enjoy the downtown area of Durham. This area is great to escape the hustle and bustle of campus and enjoy social gatherings with friends! 

“Yesterday I went to ninth street with some new friends to celebrate one’s birthday! It made me very happy. I felt like home in this social circle. This morning I went to Chapel hill and and tomorrow I will go to South Point Mall!” – Krystal

Trying On the Other Blue: An RAs Reflection on the UNC Trips

Hello! My name is Noam, and I am one of the RA’s for Summer Academy. This past week and weekend,
I had the chance to collaborate with some other RA’s and take groups of participants from Summer
Academy and Summer College to my alma mater, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-UNC for short. I graduated just a few months ago in May, and have actually been living in the town of Chapel Hill since I was ten years old. Last summer I worked as an RA for Duke Summer College, and together with another RA, Cindy, who was also my classmate from UNC, we took two groups of students to our school to do a tour. This year, we both returned to work for the program and were excited to learn that many students were interested in going on similar tours. We ended up making seven different trips to Chapel Hill in total!
Just 8 miles away from Duke, UNC Chapel Hill is the first public university in the United States, dating
back to 1789. Both universities are prestigious and take pride in their academics and athletics, especially
basketball, so it’s no surprise that they have developed a friendly (but very intense) tradition of rivalry.
Despite being rivals, the two universities work closely together on various educational opportunities such as joint degree programs (Robertson Scholars) and research projects.
I was extremely happy to see how many students wanted to go on our tour–not just because UNC as a
school and Chapel Hill as a town have a special place in my heart, but because it shows how invested our
program participants are in their future academic journeys. It was a chance for them to see a large public university that is in some way similar and in many ways different from Duke. As for myself and my
fellow RA’s who served as tour guides, it was a chance to share our personal experience of being a
college student. We each have different academic backgrounds and a range of experiences in college,
including working as residential assistants, working part-time jobs, conducting research, being involved
in various campus organizations, and studying abroad in foreign countries. I enjoyed sharing some of these experiences with the many students that attended our tours.
My favorite part of the tours was when students approached me individually to ask questions about my
areas of study, my experience of living in a college dorm, and general advice. I am of course by no means
an expert, but I like being as helpful as possible while also myself learning from the students and their
perspectives. They shared their individual hopes and dreams with me, and it was so inspiring to hear
about the subjects that spark their interest. They are so determined to keep learning and exploring. I can’t wait to see where they go in the future, and what they will bring to the world!

Taking A Peek Into the Leadership Classroom Pt. 3

MONDAY, JULY 17, 2017


The teacher presented some key concepts, such as leadership and mindfulness in the first class. We learned that these two concepts are interdependent because a good leader must be self-aware. Mindful thinking can help develop an ordinary person into a great leader by helping you to get to know more about yourself, developing your listening skills and your ability to respond rationally to stressful situations.

John Kabat-Zinn perfectly defined mindfulness as, “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” In class, we learned that when you practice mindfulness you must step back and focus on your breath; every time that you get distracted you should try to redirect your attention back to your breath. In practicing mindfulness, you strengthen your mind’s ability to focus and remain attentive on what is happen in that moment.

Today we also learned about the Social Change Model which is a model that helps college students become better leaders by having them realize that there are three areas that are important to focus on when you are trying to make any change in the world – 1. Self, 2. Other/Group, and 3. Community. At the self/individual level, to make meaningful change it is important to have a conscious self, be committed to the cause, and have congruence. Mindfulness can be used to achieve these criteria to make important changes in the world.

MONDAY, JULY 24, 2017

Rania Barner

Do we ever realize that our lives have become so busy? Do we realize that we are handcuffed by the chains of smartphones that we barely live in the present moment, let alone concentrate on it? I did not realize it until this Monday, when Vanessa told us about the mindful eating. That very moment, I meditated about the significance of eating food – something that we do each single day thrice. Mindful eating was not like regular eating; rather than indulging yourself you took time to ponder every aspect of what you were eating, which begins with tasting and biting the raisin properly. This activity, reminded me of my childhood when my mother taught me mothers how to eat adequately, but as I grow I, like many others, lost that teaching because my life has become faster, busier and more handcuffed.

In addition to learning about mindful eating, we had a mesmerizing discussion that totally changed my perspective of leadership was “leadership versus management”. I have come to know that leadership is not just a quality, but it is an aspect of being inspirational. Leadership is a responsibility of holding the group member together while not being afraid of showing one’s own weaknesses as well as collaborating to use the strength of each team member. I believe that, that day made me realize the kind of leader I wish to be – a leader who will go beyond any perplexity to make their team do best.

Best Regards,

TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2017


Have you ever wondered what it feels like to experience something for the last time? You will never be able to experience this feeling again, and all you have left are the memories that you hope will last a lifetime. I experienced this feeling today in our last official leadership class. To start off we got into groups and presented what we learned from day one until now.

We talked about empathy, personality, mindfulness, mindful eating, Siberian North Railroad, the Social Change Model, and compassion. After several groups presented we took a well needed 10-minute break. We all look forward to these precious 10 minutes because sitting for long periods of time can be agitating. We regrouped to the sound of Stephen’s calm voice and got back into our groups. I wished they would give us more time in class to work on group projects and gave us a week heads up that we would work on group projects. I love my group so much that 7 is now my lucky number. God bless Vanessa’s magical hands that paired us together when she was counting us off in groups from 1-14.

After lunch we combined forces with the Entrepreneur class to get feedback on our projects, which was great. I didn’t expect for it to work out well, but I enjoyed hearing feedback from my peers. Shortly after we went back to the class to say our final goodbyes, share our emails, snapchat and instagrams. That was when we said our final goodbye to the amazing leadership team. We learned so much from them, not only about leadership, but about life as well. Stephen, Vanessa, Jackson, Maddie and Xing Lu thank you for all you have done! Good luck and keep inspiring others to become leaders and do not forget about us! 🙂

2017 Summer Session Basketball Champions are….

Over 100 Summer College and Summer Academy students participated in the Basketball Tournament early this week. The Final Game between Red Scarf (pictured right) and the Golden State Swoliers (pictured left) ended in a final score of 29-30. Red Scarf had a fantastic long-range game, but even their pinpoint shooting could not quite defeat the Swoliers’ ability to drive in down low and score consistent short-range baskets. Pictured above are the two teams holding the score board and sharing in the glory of this wonderfully played basketball game.


Dear Ernest,

The following is an angry letter to Ernest Hemmingway after reading his works for an American Literature course during the Duke Summer Session.


Dear Ernest,


Your fascination with grim determinism and strength in the face of unbearable torment is unsettling evidence of lunacy. The story of the King and Queen going about their daily chores before they are executed is not evidence that they are strong, but that they are completely out-of-touch with reality. In canonizing them, you are just as woefully insane as they are.

The man who loses control of his sphincter before his execution is not a fool; he is merely aware of the imminent danger to his mind and person. How can you judge a man who is lying on his deathbed? How can you judge him for something he cannot control? Why are you so cruel and unsympathetic? Your exaltation of stoicism is blatant insanity.

I cannot judge a man at the hour of his death. How can you? Your unfeeling cruelty reveals your subhumanity. Besides, who gives a damn about whether a dead man lies in a pool of his own defecation or not? It is beside the point. The man is dead at the hands of his fellow man, and that is the ultimate tragedy.

Your lips cannot even form prayers to broken stones, for they have lost the ability to terrible! You are a prime example of sick-mindedness, but instead of converting, which is the only means to true relief, you try push reality to the side and try to maintain composure! Composure is not a virtue! Nor even is Competence! The only “virtue” known to man is an unceasing attempt at trying to reconcile one’s existence with the insanity of life.

Stop looking down your nose you complete and utter fool! You too will succumb to the tragedy of human existence. The clean well-lighted place cannot exist on the Earth, and your last act was an acceptance of this truth.

I pray that God does not allow you to languish in hell, but instead realizes that your soul was broken. No composure can save you now – only forgiveness has that power. I wish that before your life ended you could’ve experienced enough love to melt your stone heart into something infinitely suffering, infinitely vulnerable, and infinitely more beautiful.


With love and sorrow,


Architecture at Duke


“Duke University has the most beautiful campus that I ever saw in my life. Grandeur buildings and tall trees made the school itself a cool antique.The class I took is engaging since we learn directly from entrepreneurs who are already experienced and successful. I looked thoroughly into ourselves and learned how important it is for a leader of company to have certain qualities. Everything is new to me. Friends and teachers all came from different areas of the world and I got to learn how to speak properly in America. I had great fun overall and want to invite more students to join these cool programs.”

Akira SA


Duke Through the Eyes of an Artist

I walked into room 203K armed with my fuzzy, gray blanket and favorite pair of sneakers, determined to make the empty white room my summer home. I was handed an empty canvas and now it was my responsibility to do what I do best: use all of the brushes and paint given to me and create something meaningful. As I walked the campus, I felt warm, surrounded by brilliant minds and of course, the 95-degree weather. Craving the peaceful escape that I find in art, I began my quest for the media I love most. I found oil paint in the West Union; I marveled at the smooth blending of every type of food and student, as athletes, ramen noodles, academics, crepes, professors, and pizza all flowed seamlessly under one roof.

The dorms were full of watercolor, as students from China, Switzerland, California, Hawaii, New York, and Italy maintained their distinct colors, yet dripped together, creating a unique composition. The library overflowed with brushes and pencils, and students were given endless access to the tools they needed for success. The classrooms smelled of the pungent liquid I have come to regard as a necessity. Professors held the turpentine in their hands, facilitating the fluid synthesis that undoubtedly could not be achieved without the help of this tool. Overwhelmed by the infinite supply of possibilities, I started with a lead pencil and multi media pad. I began to sketch, planning for the masterpiece that could surely be created with the plethora of tools. I sketched doctors, engineers, psychologists, linguists, writers, architects, mathematicians, accountants, and artists. Eraser in hand, I felt comfort and empowerment in my ability to choose these different paths. One week from arrival, my room is no longer empty and white. Instead, my walls are covered in color.

Alexis Aberman

Tissue Testing

Today my group took part in the ‘Testing Tissues’ lab, where we were able to get hands on experience with important engineering concepts such as shear strain and limits of elasticity. Rotating around the room in groups, we were able to stretch elastic material behind special polarizedscreens that displayed the materials’ strain in rainbow colors as well as crush cubes made out of material meant to emulate that of spongy bone tissue. I am very excited to see what we will do tomorrow when testing animal tissue!
-Gabrielle Levy

Firsts: Summer Academy

It’s that time exciting time again! As we move into our second week of the Duke Summer Session already on its way, another busy weekend as we prepared for the Duke Summer Academy. From the move-ins into Wannamaker and Edens, students from all over the world came to learn and start their experience of college.

The program kicked off the week with the student and academic orientation, where we went over the rules and regulations of the program and expectations we have for the students. Then later that night week had our first Nightly News, where the RAs of the hall have a meeting with their residents. After a few icebreakers and getting to know each other, I posed the question of “how was move-in?” All of my girls responded saying that they had a great move-in!

On Monday, was the start of Summer Academy classes! Students head to their classes and the joy of the amount opportunities at their fingertips. Later that night at Nightly News, I asked my residents on their overall experience throughout the week of their stay here. Madison Toonder responds first saying, “ The first day was great and my first week is going wonderfully.” As well as another one of my residents, Basant Abdelhamid said “that everything was going great!” and finally Chitra Srinivasan, another resident of mine, said “my first day was so much fun and I met so many nice people and my first week is going great! I’m learning lots and lots of stuff!”


-Morgan Boyd

Film Series Kicks Off!

This weekend Duke Summer Session kicked off the film series! Students watched a range of documentaries that sparked there interest! Each room had a theme and the students were able to participate in fun activities and build community with their groups! some of the students who attended the Forensics on Trial film said that the film was extremely interesting and that they  definitely recommend it for next year!

Taking a Peak into the Leadership Classroom



Monday was a sunny day, symbolizing our excitement for the start of the program. The highlight of the first day for me was no doubt the practice of mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

My own definition of mindfulness is being aware and attentive in the present moment of our surroundings. In daily life, we face different levels of anxiety. For some, it is quite easy to overcome this anxiety and continue working and living, but for others it is not as easy. People who struggle to manage their anxiety may need other tools, like mindfulness, to help relieve them. Mindfulness is the process of breathing and stretching to achieve partial to total physical and mental relaxation. We later learned that anatomy, which refers to posture and body position, and counting your breaths are also important focus points for mindfulness. While practicing mindfulness, you must be aware of the distractions around you as well. The best way to alleviate the negative effect distractions have on you is to notice and understand their presence so that you will not be affected anymore.

Just as Rome was not built in a day; mindfulness cannot be mastered immediately. The more you practice mindfulness, the better you will get at relaxing and reacting to anxiety and stress.




On the second day of class, I was very curious about what the next adventure would be.  When I came into the classroom I learned that we were going to attend an activity called “Lego Man”. I could predict that the activity was not one in which we would only build Legos, but one where we would learn something much deeper. When we arrived to the Lego Man classroom, our wonderful, passionate teacher welcomed us. We took a seat and she gave a presentation about the differences between introverts and extroverts. She then told us to divide ourselves depending on if we were extroverts or introverts. I was confused at first, I thought that even if we were different we needed to mix. Then, it got worse, we were told to criticize the opposite group and be honest. The extroverts called the introverts shy and the introverts called the extroverts annoying. It seemed as if we were at war. However, at the end, I learned that we must divide to recognize that we have differences and learn how to work with them.

As I reflected on the moment where I felt as if the class was divided and was going to war, I remembered about how I work back home. I have a staff that I must lead throughout the upcoming school year and I realized that I was not planning on having a conversation about our differences. However, now after the Lego Man activity, I believe that it is essential for me to do have my staff talk about our differences for us to be a successful team. Even though the focus of the class was not learning about what makes a person an extrovert or an introvert, it motivates me to learn more about who a person is to know how to interact with them in the best way.  Additionally, it taught me that differences are not bad.

Everyone is a certain way and that shouldn’t be changed, instead, we must change the way we work with each other. Instead of jumping right into working to complete a task, teams should honestly share their differences first and be nonjudgmental in order learn how to handle them once we work together for a common goal.


Be Confident to Speak

One of the most impressive things about the Global Leadership course is that it is an interactive class where individuals can stand up on stage and express their perspectives fearlessly. In class, one student would finish speaking and then another would follow; one stopped and another continued. Their voices, some as soft as the sounds of the piano; some as penetrating as the flute, combined into a dramatic symphony. The roses of ideas could only thrive when sparks flew. Motivated by the free air, I took an active part to participate in discussions about mindfulness and habits. “In heart, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in one single idea; however, the potential of an idea varies,” I said to myself in a low voice. “Before judging an idea by its value, I need to let everyone know it.”

Be Passionate to Do

Before taking this class, I viewed that the only way to be a leader was to stand alone and speak loudly. Technically speaking, I wasn’t wrong. In the past, I have not practiced acting in an authoritative manner, so when I practice now it can feel unnatural. Despite feeling slightly uncomfortable being an active leader in the classroom, I am beginning to realize how powerful and self-confident I can feel when I become aware of my body language. Standing straight with my arms akimbo, my body language reflects my increasing self-confidence and I am able to express my passionate thoughts and emotions effectively.

Be Creative to Think

One activity that our class did was the Lego Man activity, where each group had to replicate a Lego structure that was already built without touching it; therefore, each group had to rely only on verbal descriptions of the Legos positions. It took my group nearly twenty-five minutes to finish building blocks. Many groups attempted to assemble the pieces by using various descriptions of the Legos positions, such as “left”, “on the top of”, and “at the bottom of”. Unfortunately, it didn’t work efficiently, for no one could perfectly picture the Legos in their minds. After class, I came up with a new and better method to complete this activity. I plan to use coordinate systems to represent each layer of the Lego Man, just as a blue print would map out how to build a building. The advantage of using this method is to allow better communication between team members because the task is more clearly mapped out, instead of completely relying on verbal descriptions, allowing for easier delegation of tasks and an increase in efficiency. I would love the chance to do the Lego Man activity again because I think that if my team used my new method we could break a record!



Today in the Duke Global Leadership Program, we discussed multiple intriguing concepts.  Most of them were specifically based on behavior.  Among these topics we spoke about were emotional awareness through compassion, emotional triggers, and what to do as well as what not to do when having any type of conversation.  However, one topic that stuck out to me was the whole idea of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Management Instrument.

This system is a conflict management instrument developed by Dr. Ken Thomas and Dr. Ralph

Kilmann of the University of Pittsburgh. Its purpose is to measure a person’s behavior in conflict situations which are defined as struggle or clash between forces opposing each other. From these conflicts come two categories, assertiveness and cooperativeness, that shows how much of that quality is being used in a certain behavior. From there Kilmann and Thomas identify five different behaviors that all vary in the levels of assertiveness and cooperativeness. These five behaviors are competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating as shown below.

We divided ourselves into five groups, each one being a different behavior. Each person went to the group that they thought best described them. Once we were divided, I found it very interesting that the majority of the class was in the group that I was in, the Compromising Group. We then started to share our opinions on the groups we chose. The competitors said that they always wanted their way, nothing more or less.

The Collaborators fired back stating that they could get what they wanted, only if they work together.  My group, the Compromisers say that the Collaborators are never going to agree with anything, otherwise we wouldn’t have any conflict to begin with. Also, it’s best that we all meet in the middle so everyone can get something they want. The Accommodators said that if we just comply, there wouldn’t be any conflict whatsoever. And the Avoiders asked the Accommodators why they would want to deal with the conflict when you just can avoid it altogether?

After several minutes of debating, we finally realized that there is no right or wrong behaviors to deal with conflicts.  Every single one is, at times, the best strategy; it all depends on what exactly the conflict is. Even after all of this, I still think the best way to go into a conflict is expecting to collaborate and meet a compromise that can work for each side. I absolutely love the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Management Instrument.

This is definitely a system I will take to my school, family, and beyond!

Take me out to the ball game!

“I’ve never really liked watching live baseball, with the loud crowds and terrible angles. But sitting in the humid stadium with ice cream melting in my hand, I sat with an ear splitting grin even as the Bulls lost point after point. I was not smiling because I miraculously became invested in baseball, but rather, I was smiling because of the people. The girls sitting beside me magicked the atmosphere of a mundane ball game into a treasured memory.”

– Annie Cho0

Aerlynn’s Summer Reflection

Before I actually attended the summer college, I thought it was all about study and endless school work. However, it turns out to be the BEST summer ever. I had my very first party here last week. We all dressed up in neon colored clothes and dance throughout the night. Although the temperature was high, I experienced the pleasure that was unlike any other thing else. Pizza, beverage, music, and friends!
Whats more, we jog at the evening when the sun is almost down. That is literally the best part of my day. The campus is so beautiful and large. It seems like you can never explore the whole out of it.  We also have really really great RA activity. Yesterday we went to the downtown to get ice-cream. It was such a privilege to enjoy ice-cream in the hot summer. The blackberry flavor was refreshing and the creamy peach flavor tasted like a real, icy peach.

Living in the Uncomfortable: Elena’s Story

Now half of the summer session has passed, and I have learned and experienced a lot in the last 15 days. Here is one thing I think should be the best strategy for the summer session, “try the things that make you uncomfortable. ” I’ll explain this statement with some of my personal experience.

As a foreign student, it’s kind of hard for me to get along with the students from the English-native countries since we have different cultural backgrounds and separate perspective towards many things. In most of the time that I spent with them, I always keep quiet and feel awkward because I had no idea what they are talking about. But I kept on doing so, trying to understand their values and I am feeling much more comfortable talking with them now. In the class, I wanted to stay behind and hoped no one would notice me. But then I knew that I’m missing my chance of being a better student and forced myself to sit in the front of the classroom and make more interactions with the teacher, ask him questions after class. Now I’m in a better command of my course. In fact, that’s how it works, you get awkward, you tried, and as time goes by, you won’t feel awkward any more and would be glad that you pushed yourself a bit at the first place.

Furthermore, ” try the things that make you uncomfortable. ” also recommends that instead of staying in the air-conditioning dorm, you need to go outside and do some RA activities and such as Duke Garden’s tour and team sports; instead of playing with your cell phone and laptop all day, attend the Expos and clubs, they are pretty helpful and interesting.

But why, why I’m doing all these things? Because I think that we all came here to try and make progress, not to stay the same as we originally are. Since we are already here, why not make this experience more valuable? So, I’ll stick to trying things that make me uncomfortable, will you?

-Elena Zhang

Best Tips for the SAT/ACT from Joe

Joseph (Joe) Hennes from Kaplan, visited Duke Summer Session to give students tips on taking the SAT and ACT! The top 5 tips that all students and parents should know are as followed;

1.) Every student should do some research on every school they want to go to and familiarize themselves with which test they should take.

2.) Take both tests if the colleges you are applying to do not have a preference! This way students can choose their best score to send to colleges. You may be surprised at what test you perform better on!

3.) Start building your vocabulary now! It is never too early to expand your vocabulary.

4.) Just like running a marathon, the only way to get use to taking a four hour test is to practice taking a four hour test!

5.) ALWAYS take the essay portion of the SAT. If you do not complete the essay and then need it later on, you will need to RETAKE the SAT.

Muki An Introvert’s Take on Spoken-Word Poetry

A student Reflection from the Writing and Performance Club

Now, before anything else, there is an absolute truth the whole world has to accept about me; I am an introvert. Spending time with other people is exhausting for me. I need some time to recharge on my own, every single day. The outer world is a bit daunting and talking to strangers is almost life-threatening.

Maybe a year ago or so, I encountered “Button Poetry”. For those of you who aren’t very familiar with spoken-word, “Button Poetry” is a YouTube channel which films and posts pieces of slam poetry. They have almost two thousand videos online and when I first discovered their channel I was determined to watch all of them. Spoken-word poetry got me excited in a way that no other piece of literature had before. I got a bit obsessed, to be honest. And after discovering, watching and loving slam poetry the next obvious step would be to try it out. Except for one small obstacle in my way… Did I say small obstacle? Sorry, I meant huge. Unimaginably big. Insurmountable, even. Remember what I said about being an introvert?

I will not deny that I had a phase of mirror practices. I would face myself in front of the bathroom sink and I would talk about whatever came to me in the moment. Sometimes I recorded my voice, at times I paused to write things down. But, I don’t think whatever I was trying to do counted as slam poetry in any way. And eventually, the recordings were lost and the “Notes” entries on my iPhone became a relic of the past.

Cut to present day. 15 year old Muki comes to Duke for the Summer College program. She occasionally watches Button Poetry videos but her YouTube homepage is mostly filled with political commentary and recent news pieces. In the midst of the chaos of checking in and unpacking her luggage, a blue folder with Duke’s coat of arms printed on it emerges. Inside this folder lies a crucial piece of US letter; the clubs sheet. On it, in bold letters, is the “Creative Writing/Slam Performance” club. A gust of wind rushes in, the room is filled with heavenly light, naked baby angels with wings carry a halo onto Muki’s head…

Okay, okay. I know, I might be exaggerating a bit. But really, I had found a new opportunity to actually work on my slam poetry skills. Of which, I have none by the way. But I know this is what summer camp’s all about; trying new things. I saw this club as the ultimate stage on which I will rekindle the creative flames of spoken-word poetry in me. I might’ve been a bit too enthusiastic about something with which I had no experience . But you have to understand, dear reader, that I used to be obsessed with this art form. I used to watch these videos religiously. And now, I finally had a chance to try it out myself. In front of an actual audience! With my peers who were interested in this just as much as I was! This was a golden opportunity. Like a door that had just opened up for me. And the doorknob was made out of gold. And the peephole was too. Actually, the whole door was of pure, 79 on the periodic table, symbol Au, gold.

Cut to, actual present day. I lied earlier, I actually cut to a week or so from now when I previously said “Cut to present day.” Okay and maybe I lied in the beginning of this paragraph too, I’m actually cutting to a few days before the day I’m writing this blog entry on. Not that any of this matters. Let’s just say, now I’m cutting to a bit more accurate of a present day. The RHD Mia walks into club. She asks how many people know what slam poetry is. Only two people raise their hands, one of them is yours truly. Then Mia shows us three videos from Button Poetry’s YouTube channel. The first one, I’ve never watched before. The second one, I’d watched months ago. And the third one, I’d watched fairly recently. Okay, I’m not going to lie. A day before, I’d googled Mia’s name and found two of her spoken-word poems online. She showed the creative writing club one of those.

I cannot really tell you what it that poem about because I honestly don’t know either. But I know it was beautiful and very intimate. And the way she performed it in the video made me want to cry, maybe a little bit. I watched her, the real Mia in the room with us as the Mia on the screen recited the words I had already heard 24 hours ago. I tried to read the emotions on her face as she watched herself talk about such personal things. Because in that moment, I was nervous for her. She seemed to be cool and collected and I had no idea how. She was right there in the room with us! And on the screen right there, someone was telling us about her secrets! Perhaps the things most near to her heart and soul! How could she be so calm? Did she not care? Was the narrative of the poem made up? Was it all fiction?

No, it obviously wasn’t. No one can deliver those lines with such emotion without actually having felt those feelings themselves. In this situation, I was putting myself in Mia’s shoes and frankly I was freaking out. Because I knew that if it was me standing there in that room, in front of a number of people (this number being larger than zero), and letting someone tell them about some of my deepest secrets, I would be freaking out. There was no way I could’ve handled that. The poem sounded so intimate, yet Mia (on the screen or in real life) had no issue with sharing it. Now I think the reason I’d be freaking out, if it was me in this situation, is because I’m an introvert. But I’m not a psychologist. Maybe it’s because I have a hard time opening up to people, maybe it’s because I have stage fright, maybe it’s because of some other psychological phenomenon in my brain. But blog entries are supposed to be fun and uncomplicated. So, as the great Buzzfeed, the overlord of click-bait content, would put it I was scared of slam poetry because I fit nice and neat into a social binary that might not even have a real scientific basis.

After club ended, I asked Mia about it. I told her about how personal the poem sounded and how it seemed to tell the audience things about Mia that she might not want to share with any strangers. I guess she agreed to an extent. When I told her about how I could never see myself doing the thing she did, as expected, she gave me great advice. I will be paraphrasing as I have the worst memory known to mankind but she said something along the lines of “You have to distance yourself from it. When you first write those words down, it will affect you and that’s normal. But this is spoken-word. You will read those words again and again and try to memorize them. You will do that until it stops affecting you. It will take time and it will be hard but at some point you’ll be at a distance from it. You yourself have to be comfortable with it first. Only then can you perform it to others. It’s very important that you come to a place where you’re confident in yourself. If you’re not at that place yet, no one can and no one should force you to open up to other people.”

Mia has great talent when it comes to using her voice. I’m sure you’ve all heard her sound like an opera artist in our dormitory halls at some point. It’s impossible to not notice her voice. Part of the reason for that (I think) is because she does slam poetry. Strong spoken-word performances always require the speaker to use their voice in magnificent ways, the way Mia does on a daily basis. But while she was giving me advice on slam poetry, she didn’t sound like an opera artist. It was quite the opposite. She lowered her voice to almost a whisper, but it was the kind of whisper that shook me. I listened to her as if she was sharing gospel. As if a whole cathedral sprung up around us as she talked. As if her voice echoed from a thousand stained glass windows… I honestly don’t even know where this metaphor is going. All I’m trying to say is Mia sounded heavenly in a very hushed way. As if God was speaking to me through her.

Mia’s advice really did make sense. Slam poetry isn’t easy and nobody said it was. Every performance hides hours and hours of practice under it. Great work goes into the voice of tone used for every single syllable. Or at least, that’s what happens for professional slam poets. For me, a 15 year old introvert, I know that great work will go into not breaking into tears in the middle of a performance. Whatever I’m going to write and perform about, it must be something important to me. Because the greatest masterpieces of history are those which are full of the artist’s heart and soul. For a high-quality spoken-word poem, you need high-quality emotions pouring into your poetry. And when high-quality emotions are involved, it’s very easy to start crying very fast. I know that it’s almost comical for my goal in the creative writing club to be “don’t cry on stage”. As I’ve said, this kind of poetry requires hours and hours of practice. About my future experiences in this club, all I can say is: “For every tear not shed on stage, a million were shed in front of the mirror”. And I hope that will fulfill my quota for trying new things during summer camp.

Taking A Peek into the Leadership Classroom Pt. 2


Frank Batts

In our leadership session, we started off the day with a walk to the gardens where we practiced mindfulness and used our breathing skills to become more relaxed in our environment. Through these exercises, we practiced self-awareness and wrote about what the environment made us feel in the moment, be it energized or enlightened (and I’m not going to lie, it was a hot day). Once we came back to the classroom we began to discuss empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to be aware of the connection between ourselves and other’s needs, concerns, and feelings. How can we be empathetic? By listening to others’ words, reading their facial expressions, understanding their tones, and watching their body languages. After our much-needed lunch break, we discussed mindful conversation which consists of three steps: listening, looping, and dipping. To properly understand what others are telling us we analyzed what they were saying, summarized it, and then repeated it back to show that we were using our good listening skills. Once we completed the exercise we finished the day working on our group projects.


Hi, my name is Winnie. I am studying in the Duke Leadership Summer Program and I think the concepts I learned here are useful and meaningful to everybody’s life. We basically talked about meditation, humility, behaviors, and thoughts. In this class, I always needed to think deep and have serious discussions with other people that I’ve never been taught before. Those concepts are based on the book “Search Inside Yourself”. In my opinion, the main purpose of

the book is to let everybody have great leadership and help them to live a better life. Among all these deep concepts, I really liked the part about empathy and sympathy. Our professor Vanessa showed us a funny video to show the exact relationship between the sympathy and empathy. But empathy is about understanding, interacting, accompanying and feeling with other people. It also had some specific examples about it including listening to others, reading their facial expressions, and noting their tone… etc. I think it’s useful because it let me know other’s true feeling and I also learned how to comfort them in a better way.

MONDAY, JULY 24, 2017

Brian Jung 

Today we once again practiced mindfulness and self-awareness. We started off the class with mindful eating. We used our five-senses to feel the raisin. We touched it, sniffed it, and tried to hear what it was trying to say. I heard it tell me not to eat it, but I put it gently in my mouth and caressed it with my tongue then I chewed it up and swallowed it.

The highlight of today was learning public speaking, and how to give a sales pitch. The teaching assistants went up and talked about their research and what they were doing outside of this summer session program. Jackson talked about his major and about his research on cancer. He found out that there was a gene that slowed cancer spread and his team is working on a way to utilize this research to find medication. Xing Lu then talked about her interest in china-towns in the United States. She wants to do a study on the New York city china town, and research the culture there. Maddie talked about how she is doing a social research on biracial people, and how that affects their perspective. I thought they were all very interesting.

Lastly, we learned to build strong relationships. We reflected on our team members by talking about why we admire them, the biggest concern about them, and what we ask of them. This strengthened our relationship.

College Panel

On Thursday July 20th, RA Isabella Pallotto, came up with the brilliant idea to host a college panel for the students. The panel consisted of staff members with varies degrees and college experiences. The students were able to ask several question they had about colleges, college life, and applying for college. Summer session student, Lauren Cruz, expressed her experience as such;

“I absolutely enjoyed the panel! It was very informative and helped provide me with a lot of information I needed being an out of state student. I felt that it was causal and a perfect environment for students to be open and honest. I liked hearing from other staff members that were either in college presently or just fresh out of college. This helped because what they were saying was not out dated. I wish we honestly had more of these! Definitely a must for next year!”

Hiking Club Duke Gardens Excursion

The Hiking Club recently visited the Duke Gardens.

“It was very warm!” says Simon Cai, mopping his brow, “But the blend of synthetic design and natural growth is very beautiful. The Asian garden is particularly well done.” He looks over to his friend Garry.

“The water features are very nice,” says Garry, “It is beautiful the way the water flows in the ponds.”

Both students are part of the group now piling into SUVs to make their way over to the Al Buehler Trail in the Duke Forest and enjoy the natural beauty and quiet contemplation that comes with a walk in the woods.

Midterm Q&A

 Liaison for Logic, Nick Briggs, Q&A about the importance of study sessions before midterms;


Q: How are the study sessions helpful?

A: Well Logic has had two study sessions. The first one had more people at it but to be honest I like when the study sessions are smaller. I feel like I can concentrate better. The study sessions also allow for an open environment between the students. The students feel more open to ask what others may think is a “dumb question” or just don’t feel as comfortable asking in a big group of people!

Q: How did the study session prepare you for the midterm?

A: The study sessions were very helpful in terms of studying. When I selected logic as my class I thought it was going to be a lot more philosophy then what it really is. In reality though, the class is very math based. The study session really helped me connect with other students and ask them to clarify things for me. I am not sure how I did on my midterm to be honest but I know that the midterm was fair.

Q: So have you made an friends from the study session?

A: Oh yea! There is this one guy on my hall that actual is in the class with me and we go to the study sessions together.

Q: Would you say that this course is preparing you for college?

A: Absolutely, I definitely feel like college is less hand holding than high school and you definitely have more responsibility to study.

Adventure in Summer College of Duke University

As a Chinese student who studies in a normal high school, which means there is little opportunity for me to contact with aliens, I was quite nervous and even anxious ever since I began to prepare the program. On the flight of more than 13 hours, I slept for less than 5 hours. But all the turbulence in my mind chilled out when I got off the flight and witnessed this sunset glowing in distance. Suddenly it taught me two things. First is that US is on the same planet as my motherland; there is nothing to be awe or afraid of. Second is that, Durham is really, really a scorchingly hot place.

My first impression of Duke University is, if it has to be one word, holiness. The historical appearance of instruction buildings as well as dormitory brings me a sense of divinity and tranquility, with Gothic pinnacles pointing to the sky and bricks of hundred years shining mildly below the sun. As a contrast to its antique appearance, there is nothing inside that seems obsolete, inner facilities are entirely modern. Air conditioners everywhere provide an incredibly comfortable environment for study. Three libraries, and another one in eastern campus, house hundreds of thousands of books.

The courses are also satisfying. I didn’t take any pictures of the course because I’m always immersed in it. The professor is humorous and context difficult enough for me to handle with. We can change our courses if felt unfit, use duke website to get resources more easily, and make friends with whomever we want. With these experiences I believe the next year of adapting college life won’t be a problem.

Restaurants in Duke are also impressive. The newly built West Union, which is a large glass box with four floors, consists of various restaurants as well as cafeteria. There are fruits and vegetables, and food from noodles, rice to pizza, burgers that satisfies everyone. For those who treasure their time, there is also McDonalds in Bryan Center.

-Kaiming Chen

Adapting to Campus Life

It’s been a while for me to actually be in the Duke Summer Session, and it really impressed me a lot in different aspects. First of all, I pre-experience the college life about studying, residence, relationship, and etc. Having a whole different lifestyle in the Duke University, I spend a few days to adapt to it. And it goes on well. The campus is pretty diverse, that is, there are many people from all around the world gathering in this community, which is very extraordinary. In addition, the college level class—- mine is the Psychology-adolescence—-is pretty different from the classes I take in Chinese high school. Class here is longer, composing of more projects and presentations than just lecturing. I am preparing a presentation, for instance, for the class about a problem, addiction to technology, in a group.
On the top of that, for the extra curriculum part, many types of clubs like hiking, gaming, photography and so on are waiting for us to attend. I went to some of those clubs and had a lot of fun. Also, we also had a party on last Friday, dancing and eating together, feeling free and relaxed. What’s more, I become more independent after coming to Duke University due to that I have to do all the things on my own, which makes me feel that I am growing up quickly. To sum up, there are way more things that I want to talk about the campus life, but generally they are very positive and fun. It is a very great opportunity for me to attend this program!


– Zhiyu Jin

Adventure Time!

Every day at 5:30 pm, RAs lead diverse recreational activities with their groups.

Isiah McMullan — a summer college RA – said “one of my best activities I would say is when I took my boys to play ball. They really enjoyed it and it was really awesome to learn about each and every one of them on a personal level!”

Another RA, Eric, enjoyed a Star Wars viewing and a Duke Gardens trip with his students.

Heather said she enjoyed eating at the Devil’s Krafthouse and telling them about fun programs that Duke offers, college application tips and more.

Isabella, Sade and Claire took their residents to see Spiderman at the Northgate mall. Isabella said, “the public transportation provided great group bonding. It was really great because it was resident-driven and RA-implemented, so we all had a great time!”

Students are learning how to balance their schoolwork with fun outings, clubs, and other workshops throughout the course of the summer, just like they will have to in college. 

Week One: An RA Reflection

As beginning any new adventure, the air was full of eagerness and anticipation as Staff and students alike arrived at the magnanimous Duke University. Throughout arrival day, the hard work of staff members on every level inspired one another to push through the exhaustion. In turn, the students arrived with the intent and inspiration of working hard and having fun! As Duke Summer Session orientation was underway, a growing sense of unity emerged. Thanks to the impressive collaboration of our staff, students were able to seamlessly connect with one another, bonding over interests and aspirations.

At the end of week one, I can comfortably say this summer will be a transforming adventure.

-Raine Craft

Plagiarism, Citations, and Breaking Bad

Academic Writing

Professor Seth Kotch, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, lead a Writing Expo on the standards of college writing.

College writing may be different from other forms of writing in that it requires practice and a command of certain skills that will contribute to a professional, persuasive, and sophisticated writing style.

Professor Kotch shared strategies and foundations that will help students contribute to their academic success. Students learned how to create a draft for a college level paper, how to use citations properly, and how to differentiate between quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing. They also had the opportunity to practice creating an effective argument in your paper. Finally, they learned about what plagiarism is, how to avoid it, and the typical academic and life consequences for plagiarism and academic dishonesty convictions.

Turn Down For What??

As the sun went down, the music turned up. Students arrived in droves in everything from dresses to sweatpants to brightly colored socks (going along with the ‘NEON BEATZ’ theme of the night) to take part in the festivities. What started as a quiet pizza party soon morphed into a full on fiesta, complete with line dancing, dance circles and more than enough jumping.

Students joined together as the RA’s led them in Summer Session’s first ever rendition of the ‘Swag Surf’

Zhiang (Jimmy) Li takes a giant bite of some free pizza at the beginning of the evening

RA’s spent the evening DJ’ing, serving pizza, and occasionally jumping into a dance circle or two while the students celebrated the end of their first week at Duke



Students gathered in one of many dance circles of the evening

Although many started out ‘too shy’ to show off their moves, everyone was on the stage by the end of the night, jamming to everything from the ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ to ‘Bang Bang’ to ‘Teach Me How to Dougie’

‘NEON BEATZ’ may have been the first of many dances to be held over the duration of the program, but it was definitely one to be remembered.

Nasher Outing

July 14, 2017
Yesterday, I took my students to the Nasher Museum for a workshop led by a local artist and poet, Chris Vitiello. The girls used pastels, colored pencils, and scissors to create poetry out of old pages torn out of books. The method was to circle or highlight the words they wanted to keep on the page, while crossing out words they did not want to keep, to create a poem. I think they enjoyed it and found it novel and interesting. I know they enjoyed it because when we went around during Nightly News, some of them said that that was the highlight of their day.
-Tiffany Pyen

Academic Liaison

What is it like to be an Academic Liaison?

It is exciting while challenging. Starting from a wish that all students can acquire good experiences at Duke, we have a hard responsibility. I am happy that I can do something for others, while trying to make my class atmosphere better. If everyone does a good job, the sense of achievement for me is too much to describe. However, I know that not everyone will get involved and be active in the beginning, so I, a pathfinder, am still learning to lead, encourage, and involve others. It is an interesting way for self-improvement and such a precious chance to gain a deeper understanding of Duke’s four week study.

What do Academic liaisons do?

The ultimate goal for liaisons is perfecting both study environment and living atmosphere. I think the responsibility for liaisons is taking detail care of each student and making sure everyone is involved in the class. Some students are shy to speak out, because of this liaisons can proactively ask students about their feeling of class and how every process is going. If students have any problems, or even just want to find others studying together, we are here to organize group study. Making studying fun is a thing we are trying to accomplish. Finally we are like a bridge between professors and students, connecting a mutual understanding, so that all of us can not only receive good grades but also make an unforgettable memory lasting forever

– Krystal Yaxin Tan

Academic Liaison for Logic

First Day of Class: A Students Perspective

“Coming from a small island in the middle of the Pacific, coming to Duke was an entirely new experience. There is a whole new type of independence to having my own dorm and decided how I want to spend each day. It was very different coming from having each day planned and changing to a relaxed schedule with a few things scattered throughout the day. On the first day attending my class I was a little anxious, especially because when I arrived thirty minutes early and the classroom was dark without a person in sight. Thinking that there is still a lot of time I walked over to the nearest bench and tried to focus on reading my book, although I was still thinking about when the professor would arrive. About ten minutes later I peer the room and there are students! I enter the room, confirming I am in the correct place as we all wait for the professor. We all try to act busy or at least that is what I attempt to do, constantly watching the clock, and wondering when the professor will arrive. Finally, with about 3 minutes till class Professor Rafael Ventura casually walks in the door. After that the class runs smoothly along, we go over the syllabus, expectations, and start our first lesson. For a two-hour class, the logic class did not seem too long. My first class in a college setting went better than imagined. Now only 17 more days of this class”… -Rovi Porter

Academic Orientation –

Greetings from your Academic Team! On Monday, June 10th, the students had their Academic orientation. During this time, they met the Academic Team and had library and book tours! The Academic Advisors for Summer College are Rebecca Brady, Yolandi Prinsloo, and Alice Huang. We are excited to support, advise, facilitate, and encourage our students!

Res Orientation

In the flurry of Arrival Day, the Residential Life staff put on a show!

…Well, it was actually just Residential Orientation.

As the RAs and their students trekked down to the Biological Sciences building, we, the Residential Admin, were diligently working to ensure this event would go as smoothly as possible. Despite the countless hours we spent preparing and the high level of confidence of our team, we were still nervous. When the students settled in their seats, however, the adrenaline kicked into high gear, and we dived right in to introduce students to the program.

Although it was late in the day, and some of the kids were tired, they seemed to enjoy themselves! Everyone laughed at the RAs’ skits and fun tidbits in the PowerPoint presentation. They grooved to the music in the built-in dance break. And most importantly, the students learned valuable information about navigating the program and dormitory life!

-Isis Percell


Arrival Day

I woke up early in the morning nervous and excited and already sweating. It was Arrival Day and my students were finally going to be here! Seventeen female students that I would be leading throughout the summer…I smiled wide with hope, wondering when they would walk through those doors into the sweet, sweet air-conditioned room. Though the day was a little hectic for all of us, students who travelled for days were finally moving in. Residential Assistants ran different booths, handing out linens, setting up apps, and showing families where to go. It was extremely rewarding to be there to greet and welcome students.

Throughout the day, I helped students download apps onto their phones and even met a handful of my residents before our Nightly News meeting. All of us may still be recovering from the chaos and excitement of Arrival Day, but one thing remains constant: this summer session is going to be life-changing.

-Claire Lechtenberg