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Despite ACE being virtual this year I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a new culture in a very real way. My interest in ACE began years before I stepped onto Duke’s beautiful campus. Civic engagement and travel are things that I feel very passionate about. When being recruited by Duke my coaches mentioned the ACE program, and I instantly knew that it would be something I would want to be a part of. Despite losing the travel component I knew that I didn’t want to miss this experience while in college.

The virtual service aspect of the program was something that piqued my curiosity. Prior to the program starting, I wasn’t sure how this aspect of the program was going to play out. The ACE in Place Peru program ended up being an engaging and worthwhile experience. We were able to get a hands-on “laptop” experience of what it would be like to work at a non-profit by researching grants, writing “M and E” or monitoring and evaluation forms, and reading policies.

I spent most of my time researching grants on my own, which was something that I hadn’t done before. It was good to learn about all the different types of grants as this is useful knowledge for the future. While this is work that is different from if we had been physically in Peru, it is still very educational and highly applicable to the future.

“We were able to get a hands-on “laptop” experience of what it would be like to work at a non-profit by researching grants, writing “M and E” or monitoring and evaluation forms, and reading policies.”

– Olivia Tighe, Duke Women’s Swimming and Diving

Volunteering work aside, our fearless leaders Nicole and Ricardo were able to share Peruvian (and a little bit of South African) culture with us (Nicole is South Africa and Ricardo is Peruvian). Our work with our community partner, Mujer Peruana, prompted many discussions, from prison reform and child policy to learning about Peruvian rituals and food. These discussions and experiences were an excellent way to engage with new cultures and communities which resulted in deeper thinking and a better understanding of the world outside of the United States.

Learning about some of the challenges that people face around the world, especially women in places like Ghana and Peru (two countries we learned about), made me feel grateful for the life I am able to live here in the US. The opportunities I have had and will have in the future are not ones that some of these women have access to and for that I am thankful. Mujer Peruana is an organization that is helping women achieve their dreams despite the adversity they have faced, and that is something truly inspiring.

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