Meet Charles

Click on the image or link below to hear Charles’ story.

My name is Alex Sun and I am a junior at Duke University from Ellicott City, Maryland. I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering and am also on the pre-medical track. In 2009, I was able to participate in the DukeEngage project in Uganda, where we volunteered at village health centers and provided antenatal services to pregnant women. Through this trip, I began to understand the potential of documentary work to create not just a final report, but also to help publicize and sustain important programs.

Over the last three years I have seen the homeless population grow in Durham and I saw this course as a great opportunity to interact with these individuals in a meaningful way. I hoped to learn more about documentary studies and develop skills in photography and audio that I plan on using in the future. My initial expectation was that I would be volunteering with Housing for New Hope, but it quickly became apparent that instead of traditional service work, I would have the opportunity through documentary work to immerse myself in a community and to get to know the individuals with whom I worked. This semester, I have been able to interact with the men of Phoenix House on a deep level and to learn from them. It has been inspirational getting to know Charles and listening to his story of desperation, restoration, and growth—and the humility that has led him through it all.


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