Looking back on my three-week ACE in Place Peru experience, I am overcome with emotions to describe the experience – grateful, thoughtful, and inspired – to name a few. Going into the experience, I did not know what to expect and, truthfully, I was a little bit hesitant to fully accept the idea of a virtual service program. My reservations vanished following our first few meetings after diving into the project brief and cultural immersion activities and seeing just how much thought and effort was put into making the program happen.
One of our discussion themes over the course of our time together was the idea of sustainable service and sustainable development. One of the biggest surprises for me was just how sustainable I found our virtual service to be. By taking the travel aspect out of the equation, my teammates and I were able to zero in on the service itself and focus on doing tangible, meaningful work for our partner organization that they specifically requested of us.
While I believe the service element of the program was enhanced by the virtual environment, I do believe that my teammates and I did miss out on much of the connection that takes place outside of scheduled programming. That said, during the coaching sessions and peer discussions I actually believe that I learned more about my teammates than would have been revealed during an in-person experience. Our Zoom conversations got personal and deep, something that I doubt would have happened in person without the facilitation of the ACE and GVI teams.
“By taking the travel aspect out of the equation, my teammates and I were able to zero in on the service itself and focus on doing tangible, meaningful work for our partner organization that they specifically requested of us.”
– Theo Burba, Duke Men’s Cross Country and Track and Field
Moving forward after ACE, I am so thankful for the whole experience and everyone who helped to it make it so special. I am looking forward to staying connected with the Duke ACE community by looking into being an ACE Ambassador and connecting with more leadership opportunities within the athletic department. Once we’re back on campus, I heard some talk of an in-person cook-off where every group showcases the dish they cooked in their virtual cooking class. I feel confident that the Peru team will be bringing home the win!