My name is Justine Hong and I am a junior at Duke University. I am pursuing a Public Policy major and Markets and Management certificate at Duke University. I dabbled in the arts during high school but hadn’t explored visual art classes at Duke. I am from the Bay Area and have done volunteer work that addressed homelessness. However, this class showed me how multimedia can address policy issues in a new way and compels others to connect emotionally.
Prior to this course, I had no personal connection to the homeless population in Durham. When picturing the concept of “homelessness” I imagined malnourished individuals panhandling on the street in dirty clothing. However James could not be farther from this image. Dressed in a polo shirt and dress pants the first time I met him, he has graciously allowed me into his life and been incredibly open about his experiences.
I hope that through sharing his story with me, James will continue to break stereotypes about homelessness and the homeless population. He is a compassionate individual who goes out of his way to support, motivate, and connect with others. I admire his determination and need to succeed. Now a teacher at Githens Middle School, James is giving back to the community. As a college graduate himself, he believes in the power of education and has thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the Durham youth. He hopes that all of his students make their academic achievement a priority and has already seen changes in the attitude of his class. James is studying for the LSAT on the side and hopes to go to law school in the near future.