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From The Forest to South Korea

Team member Carle Tinson smiles for the camera.

Spotlight: Team Member Carle Tinson, Dining Services

The Forest at Duke is a vibrant community filled with exceptional people. 

The first thing you’ll notice about Forest team member Carle Tinson is her warm and welcoming smile. Carle aspires to be a chef, so her work in Dining Services at The Forest at Duke suits her well. She enjoys getting to prep food in the kitchen and work on her knife skills. But she also loves her time spent as a café server, when she gets the opportunity to chat with residents.

Carle is service-focused in everything she does, and the determination that drives her is evident. The upbeat team member enjoys time spent with her family and weekends with friends, but when you ask her about what she really enjoys, her answer may surprise you. “I’m a member of the Army National Guard,” Carle explains, “and I love it.”

Serving overseas

Signing up at the age of seventeen, Carle knew early on that serving in the military was the right path for her. She’d always had an interest in serving and felt that it would be a stable life with a promising future. It wasn’t until three years into her contract that she received her first orders to deploy internationally. With her family’s support and enthusiasm from The Forest, she took her marching orders and left on April 1st for a new adventure in South Korea.

Carle doesn’t sugar-coat living on the base. She was 13 hours ahead and a world away from life here at The Forest at Duke. “We slept outside in simple tents with nothing but a cot,” she recalls. “Wind, rain, heat – you felt it.” Deployment in South Korea isn’t easy, but Carle is quick to say that she loved the experience.

A day in the military life

As a cook, her mornings began bright and early at 3:30 a.m. with a quick shower before she went to set up her portable kitchen. Carle and her team had a tremendous task at hand, cooking two meals a day for over 1,000 soldiers at a time. But you can bet that Carle faced each day with a smile. “I loved it,” she reflects. “I enjoyed getting to meet new people and talk to them. We had soldiers from all branches on our base and soldiers from Korea as well.”

Carle values diversity and labels that as one of her favorite aspects of the military and of her job here at The Forest. “You meet people from all over the world and get to hear about their experiences,” she explains. “I love that.”

Back at home in Durham, Carle’s family started to worry. Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. began to rise during Carle’s deployment, and her mother was quick to call. The time difference made those phone conversations brief, but Carle assured her family that she was safe. “You didn’t feel the tension there,” she explains. “We went on with our work, and the Korean soldiers did as well.”

Impressions from South Korea

For Carle, it wasn’t the political tension but the weather that concerned her. “It rained for two days straight,” she explains. “And the mud was disgusting.”

Outfitted in 50 pounds of full “battle rattle,” complete with boots, Army gear isn’t very forgiving when it’s wet. Carle describes that 48-hour stretch of time without a break in rain as the hardest, but she doesn’t linger. Instead, she quickly flashes a smile and jumps into a story about her best day in Korea, bubbling over with excitement.

“We visited a 17-story mall. It was huge, with a spiral staircase, and at the very top was this gigantic aquarium store.” By the big grin on Carle’s face, you can see that the aquarium made an impression on her.

Looking ahead, enjoying the now

Carle welcomes new experiences and new people, embracing each day with an open mind. Would she travel again? “Definitely.”

But for now, Carle is happy to be back at home with her family, playing with her two-year-old nephew, and sharing stories from her travels with her team members here at The Forest at Duke.

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