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A Day in My Life

Hello readers,

I’m going to write about a typical day in my life. I’ve been working for a local bookkeeper lately, but here is a day off.

7:30: wake up

While I’m not grumpy when I wake up, I am definitely not a morning person. My brain takes a good amount of time to fully wake up and start functioning. My morning thoughts are generally not the most coherent nor the most intelligent. As a result, my mornings are pretty mundane.

8:30 – 10:30: exercise!

I’ve learned that moving around definitely gives my brain and body a jump start. In high school, lifting with my team took up a lot of my time. I’m grateful for the knowledge and experience I earned with my coaches and trainers. After our spring season got canceled, however, I have been experimenting with different kinds of lifting programs. Lately, I’ve been going with the flow and working with the exercises that my body needs. To help recover, I work different parts of my body on different days. I do miss the stretching and mobility work our trainers had us do, and I would love to incorporate that into my routine. Maybe yoga even!

10:30 – 12:00: work with YTJ and research trip

Now that my brain and body had woken up, I started some of my work. As an intern at Youth Transforming Justice (YTJ), a local restorative justice program and an alternative to the Juvenile Court System, I working to create a collaboration between our county’s Parks Department and YTJ. We’re hoping to work with the Parks because COVID has eliminated so many in-person community engagement opportunities. The two organizations are a good fit for each other because we can provide the Parks Department with a large volume of helping hands and they can provide our respondents with an opportunity to be outside and to strengthen their relationship with the community

12:00 – 3:00: golf

A couple friends and I picked up golf at the beginning of Covid when it was one of the only things we could do. It’s definitely a love-hate relationship. One fun aspect of the game is meeting new people. Generally, senior citizens are the ones playing in the middle of the day on a weekday. My friends and I are fitting right in with the 70+ crowd!

3:00 – 4:00: miscellaneous work

4:00 – 5:00: Youth Court hearing

I served as a facilitator in a Youth Court hearing. If you haven’t read my other blogs, Youth Court is a program designed to help teenagers who have broken the law. Our goal is to strengthen and restore their relationship with their community and their school.

5:00 – 7:00: cook dinner

One way I’ve been contributing to my family is by making dinner. I’ve always enjoyed cooking; the feeling of providing for my family is very fulfilling. Apart from food itself, cooking is always a peaceful moment of me. It’s satisfying to see your efforts come together in a physical creation.

See you next time! Best,

Ray K

Restorative Justice

By Ray

Hi there, 

This is Ray, and welcome to my third blog. Some say, “shooters shoot;” to that I respond, “bloggers blog”. 

Since my first blog, I have been working as an intern for Youth Transforming Justice – an organization based in Marin that focuses on restorative justice. I haven’t written about YTJ yet, so I thought I might focus on some restorative justice talk this blog post.  

 YTJ’s primary responsibility is serving as an alternative to the traditional adolescent judicial system in California. They primarily work with drug and alcohol cases at the local high schools. Rather than facing suspension and a legal trail, YTJ works with students to create a restorative solution. The goal of our current judicial system is to punish the respondent. so they will be disincentivized to break the law again. With a restorative approach to justice, the goal is to heal and strengthen the relationships that the respondent damaged. This might take the form of community service, risk reduction training, or serving as a mentor to teens in similar situations.  

One big part of YTJ is the youth meeting (also known as a youth court). Rather than a hearing in the California Juvenile Court, respondents meet with 10 or so kids their age. The bailiff, jury, and the respondent’s advocate are all teenagers, but the meeting still has legal significance. It serves as an alternative to a trial in the California Juvenile Court. In order to take part in the meeting, respondents must accept responsibility for their actions; the meeting isn’t a place to decide guilt or innocence. Instead, it’s a place for respondents to explain themselves and reflect on their actions.  

Members of the jury take turns asking questions to the respondent – questions about their drug/alcohol use, home-life, personal relationships, etc. After learning more about the respondent and their current position in life, the jury creates a restorative plan for the respondent. The restorative plan is a list of actions the respondent needs to take in order to heal the relationships they damaged. Most restorative plans include serving as a member of the jury and participating in community engagement. 

Since the virus emerged in the US, YTJ has almost exclusively been hosted online. Moving online eliminated a transportation problem. In the past, kids would have to miss required meetings because they could not find a reliable form of transportation to our offices. This isn’t a problem anymore, but internet connectivity is. YTJ relies on communication to form bonds and build empathy. Unstable internet is a big roadblock to this – shaky wifi creates stilted conversations. Although I am excited for the day when YTJ works in person, I hope we can use Zoom to make a more equitable program.  

As an intern, I’ve been participating in the jury and working as a case manager. I am also helping create a similar restorative system in San Mateo county. As a case manager, I help kids complete the entire restorative process. The youth meeting is a small part of the overall program, I facilitate conversations and help them navigate harm-reduction training and community engagement. 

The work is internally fulfilling. I have the opportunity to work with many people I would normally not cross paths with. I am helping kids my age move past the mistakes they made in the past. 

See you in the next blog! 


Ray 🙂 

Dang, That Was Unfortunate

By Ray

Hello readers, 

This is Ray, and I’m starting to write my second blog. Since my last blog, I’ve hiked the Lost Coast Trail, planned a thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, and hiked in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  

 The Lost Coast was a really nice way to re-enter the backpacking world. I went with one of my close friends; we finished the 26-mile trail in three days and two nights. We finished our four-hour drive Saturday afternoon and hiked 9 miles or so. We then trekked 17 miles the second day, and barely hiked anything the third day to finish early in the morning. Some of my highlights were jumping into swimming holes, eating dinner after a long day, and tidepooling. The lost coast is normally super foggy and cloudy, but we had clear skies the entire trip. The views were crazy! 

Our First Campsite

After the Lost Coast trip, I was super excited to keep on backpacking. I set my sights on the Tahoe Rim Trail – a 160-mile loop around Lake Tahoe. I planned on finishing the hike in eight days, hiking 20 miles a day. It would be my first-time solo trip, and I was pumped for it. I made myself a resupply box to pick up in Tahoe City and got my permits. Instead of a tent, I brought g a bivy sack (an enclosed sack for your sleeping bag – there’s only room to lay down). I don’t have claustrophobia, and I don’t really see the purpose of hanging out in a tent by myself. My back welcomed the change from a 3 pound tent to a 1 pound bivy.  

A day before I wanted to leave, everything took a turn for the worse. Wildfires in California were absolutely destroying Tahoe’s air quality. The idea of inhaling smoke 24 hours a day for a week wasn’t super appealing, I’m not going to lie. I called an audible to shelf the Rim Trail and wait out the smoke. (California is still on fire, so we’ll see when this happens). This is/was a huge bummer and very unfortunate. On a broader note, my trip cancellation is trivial compared to the people who have lost their homes and their lives from the fires. I need to be aware of my privilege.  

After postponing the Rim Trail, I started to research the air quality in the rest of California. While cross-referencing air quality maps with open space, I found the Trinity Alps Wilderness – a small wilderness by Mt. Shasta. The mountain and the current wind conditions had created a small pocket of breathable air. I found a weather report, a trailhead, and left the next day with four days of food. I was itching to get out of the house.  

“I’ll get a map on the drive up,” I hoped as I pulled out of the driveway.  

 I arrived at the Trailhead late at night (with a map) and prepared for an early morning. At 5:30 am, the air in the Trinity Alps wasn’t perfect, but it was much better than the rest of California. I reached a lake two hours in and stopped for breakfast: cold instant oatmeal, a bar, and some jerky. Breakfast of champions. 

From a high ridge, I could see heavy smoke in the distance. The smoke on the horizon combined with an uncertain air quality forecast pushed me to turn my trek into a day hike and find my way back to the car that night. I let my mind drift while I hiked: calm hiking is fast hiking. My water filter proved its worth at multiple streams and lakes.  

I finished 12 or so miles by noon. After a snack, I stood up, took a swig of filtered creek water, pulled my pack on, and continued to walk. I passed more lakes, traversed more ridges, and saw fewer people. After hiking many more miles and jumping into a lake, the sun started to set. With five miles left, I started to hustle. Hiking sucks when you start thinking about how much you have left. The last five miles sucked. I expected to see the trailhead at every turn in the trail. My calves cramped.  

I was ecstatic to finally reach my car. 14 hours and 25 miles later, I was wiped out. While I thought it was an awesome experience, my calves disagreed. See you all in the next blog! 



My Gap Year Plans and the PCT

By Ray

Hello friends, 

 My name is Ray, and this is both my first blog with the Duke Gap Year, as well as my first ever blog.  

 I should probably introduce myself; I live in the Bay Area (Marin County). In high school, I spent a lot of my time playing for the football (LB) and lacrosse (middie) team. I also participated in student government and Model UN. I’m in Pratt, but I have no idea what I will end up majoring in – a gap year will hopefully help with that.  

 I enjoy being outside. This summer, I have spent time hiking, biking, and trying to play golf. I’ve also been cooking a lot for my family; cooking is a hobby I never got the chance to explore in high school. I’m excited to watch the new season of Last Chance U, and I’ll listen to almost any song Spotify gives me.  

Me on the left – a triple bougie kinda day 

I’m hoping to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in the spring/summer of 2021. The PCT is a pretty long trail; the goal is to average about 20 miles a day and finish within five-months. Am I trying to bite off more than I can chew??? Who knows??? 

 The Pacific Crest Trail Association manages the trail and distributes permits through a daily quota. It’s a competitive process that’s really similar to buying hyped-up sneakers. If I’m unlucky and don’t get a permit; I still hope to backpack (maybe the Bigfoot Trail, John Muir Trail, or the Tahoe Rim Trail). Regardless of which trail I end up thru-hiking, I think it would be a good idea to do some preparing. 

 While I wouldn’t describe myself as a backpacker, I do have a decent background. Last summer, I spent two weeks backpacking in New Mexico. It was pretty cool.  

I’m on the right, this is from the top of Baldy Mountain

Right now, I’m planning a short 30 mile trip at the Lost Coast. I’m hoping to finish the trail in two days. The Lost Coast is an area in the Kings Range Conservation Area in Northern California. The Lost Coast was slated to be part of California’s State Route One, but its terrain was deemed too rough to build a highway.  

The Lost Coast has a rich history that’s severely under-documented. Before European settlers reached California, the Mattole People thrived on the Lost Coast. Thanks to the ocean and the coastal climate, they gathered seaweed and shellfish and hunted native marine animals. Salmon played a big role in their culture. When white settlers reached the Lost Coast around 1860, they called it New Jerusalem and began to raise cattle. Despite numerous treaties, many of the Mattole people were killed by local militias.  Most who survived were sent to a prison in Humbolt county. In 1868, a measles outbreak almost eradicated the Mattole people. With such a small population, the Mattole language died in the 1930s. Besides death records written by white settlers, there’s little to no written record about the Mattole people.  

 I will be mindful of the Mattole people’s history on my hike, and I’ll share the knowledge I learned with my fellow hikers. I will keep the blog posted on how the trip goes.