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Serving Tea in Duke Gardens
Editor's Note: The Blue Devil of the Week highlights a different Duke employee each week. Visit the archives for more articles.
Durham, NC - Name: Nancy Hamilton
Position: Cultural Programming Coordinator for the Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Years at Duke: 3
What I do at Duke: I lead Japanese cultural programs at the teahouse at the Duke Gardens. These include a series of monthly tea gatherings that the community may register to attend and a growing number of educational tea programs for school groups. We also host a large open-air tea event at our annual Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring, and for the first time this fall, we will offer an Asian Festival Day featuring cultural activities for families in the Asiatic Arboretum at the Gardens.
How I got the job: I was involved in the sister-city relationship between Durham and Toyama, Japan that was the initial inspiration for the teahouse at Duke Gardens. The structure was completed in late 2007. The following summer, just as I was returning from intensive training in the Urasenke tradition of tea in San Francisco, the Gardens was beginning to explore ways to share the teahouse with the community. We introduced our series of monthly tea events at that time and things have blossomed from there.
To start a conversation with me, someone should ask about: 'Chado,' which is the Japanese term for the way of tea or the practice of tea. I found my first tea gathering in 2002 so profound that I decided I had to find a way to keep this in my life. Essentially, the way of tea is about creating a shared moment where people can connect with each other through the beautiful yet simple act of sharing a bowl of tea.
If I had $5 million I would: Help Japanese children who lost parents or whose families lost their livelihoods in the disaster caused by the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.
A recent book I have read: "The Housekeeper and the Professor" by Yoko Ogawa. It is about a brilliant Japanese math professor who has a memory span of only 80 minutes.
My first paid job: When I was a teenager, my dream was to be a competitive figure skater. To earn money to pay for this, I got four jobs as soon as I was 16. I worked in two restaurants, cleaned houses and was a physical therapy aide in a nursing home.
Something most people don't know about me: I won a national medal in figure skating at the age of 31.
The best advice I've received: My mother said if I studied what I loved, I would end up doing what I loved. She was right. I took a course on Asian religions my second semester at Duke that introduced me to Japanese culture and changed my life.
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