Author: Rebecca Shapiro

Building Connections: My Experience With Project Build

Here’s a conversation I’ve had a lot:

Other Person: “Did you do a pre-orientation program?”

Me: “Yeah, I did Project BUILD.”

Other Person: “Oh, cool. So you, like, build stuff?”

Me: “Um, no. Not really.”

Other Person: “…Oh. So what is it then?”

First of all, it’s a misnomer. Project BUILD is a week-long pre-orientation program at Duke University, though the concept is not unique to Duke. Pre-orientation programs exist at many schools as opportunities for incoming freshmen to get to know each other, get to know campus, and get to know life without daily parental oversight.

At Duke, our programs are either one or two weeks long. They all involve teamwork and upperclassmen leadership. They all have official names starting with “Project.” Project Waves is a week at the beach. Project Wild is two weeks in the wilderness. Project BUILD? Less intuitive.

The trick lies in the word BUILD, which really isn’t a word at all but is instead a rather clumsy acronym for “Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham.” Not sure what that means? Neither was I.

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