This past weekend I went down to Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club with my parents. We rented kayaks and paddled out towards Lake Washington. In order to get out of the harbor area and onto Lake Washington, we had to pass through a channel. The channel walls are comparable to Duke’s East Campus tunnel-painted full of the cheers of the graduating classes at University of Washington, slogans of the different campus groups, records of the championships the men and women’s crew teams have won, and other quirky phrases that express the passion, energy, and excitement that exists among the UW students. From these walls, I was able to put myself in the shoes of a UW student and imagine what it would be like to attend University of Washington and write on the channel walls myself. Although I was just paddling in a small kayak with my mom, I even felt a small rush of adrenaline as we kayaked past the “Gentlemen Start Yer Engines” painting and imagined I was on the UW women’s crew team about to begin a race.
Once on Lake Washington, I enjoyed the serenity of the calm blue water speckled with light green lily pads. As I looked back at the UW campus, I gained a greater understanding of the Huskies’ love of sports. I noticed that the University of Washington football stadium is built in the shape of a perfect W, giving the phrase architectural support a whole new meaning. I also learned that the small red and yellow bouys on the water in front of the stadium are where fans who sail across the lake to attend football games and other sporting events to tie their boats. While they may not be Cameron Crazies, the UW students and fans certainly do have their own sports culture that is unlike any other university I have seen.
From such a simple outing on the water I learned so much about the culture and energy of the UW students, fans, and community. I encourage my fellow DukeEngage students to similarly do simple things around the city such as going for a walk, kayaking on a lake, or even just riding the bus for a while to see what insights they can gain about the Seattle community-you never know what new things you may learn!