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“The ACE in Place program was an amazing opportunity for my daughter to experience the Vietnamese culture, develop her leadership skills and make lifelong friendships. My hope is that she will one day get to travel to Vietnam and experience their customs and traditions firsthand.”

Kristin Simmons, Mother of a Duke #ACEinPlace athlete (Summer 2021)

Preparation and Safety

Online pre-departure training

Before traveling with ACE, all ACE participants are required to complete an online pre-departure course, which includes information on health and safety. We expect students to review this course carefully to best prepare themselves for a successful summer experience.

pACE (preparing for ACE) meetings

  • All ACE participants attend a series of pre-program preparation meetings before their ACE experience begins. This includes a welcome and orientation meeting required for all ACE participants, which covers general and site-specific health and safety training information. In addition, student-athletes attend one on-campus pre-program training session together. Training topics are designed to alert students to possible risks and encourage them to make wise decisions. To learn more, see pre-program expectations and training.
  • Student-athletes meet twice with their ACE program teammates and on-site program staff to go over details unique to their program including health, safety, cultural knowledge, packing lists, and service project plans.

International SOS (ISOS) app

Duke contracts with International SOS (ISOS), a medical and travel security assistance company, to provide worldwide assistance and evacuation services to protect our students who study and pursue service work overseas. Services provided by ISOS range from telephone advice and referrals for everyday issues to evacuation by private air ambulance in the event of a health emergency. The SOS network of multilingual specialists operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from Alarm Centers around the world. The coverage is designed to supplement the policies, procedures and support staff, which Duke already has in place. For more information about the services provided by ISOS, please consult Duke Travel Assistance.

Download the ISOS Assistance App to stay up-to-date with travel security analysis and medical information.

Emergency contact card

An emergency contact card, which includes Duke’s ISOS membership numbers and the SOS alarm center phone numbers, is provided to each student at the all-ACE preparation meeting (pACE) held in April — and to their parent or guardian soon thereafter via email. The card also includes the ACE emergency hotline which is staffed 24/7 throughout the summer. This card should be carried by students at all times during their ACE experience.

Each ACE program location is run by a volunteer-sending organization (VSO). Staff from the organization are on-the-ground and available 24/7 to participants.

Student-athlete safety is a program priority. Participants are not allowed to participate in any high-risk activities, such as, bungee jumping, ocean swimming, hitchhiking, or ride any non-standard forms of transportation, such as, motorbikes, bicycles, or tuck-tucks. Participants are required to report any injuries or illnesses to on-site staff immediately who share this information with ACE staff for follow-up.


Recommended vaccinations and medications vary by program location and year. However, as part of any ACE program, all student-athletes are required to visit Duke Student Health for a pre-travel health visit which includes recommended vaccinations and travel prescriptions. These pre-departure travel medicine costs are included as part of the ACE program; however, the cost of any medical care during or post-program is solely the responsibility of the student.

In general, most dietary restrictions and preferences can be accommodated. The “Housing and Meals” section of each program profile outlines program-specific food options and examples of typical meals.

If you have additional concerns not outlined within the program profile, please have your student-athlete contact the ACE office to discuss whether or not specific dietary needs can be reasonably accommodated at a program site.

All participants in the ACE program are required to have the Duke Student Medical Insurance Plan or to have a comparable U.S.-based policy of comprehensive health and accident insurance that covers injuries and illnesses sustained during or as a consequence of participating in an internationally-based ACE program. This insurance must be valid at least through the beginning of the next academic school year. ACE does not provide or pay for health insurance for participants.


While students are permitted to bring their own cell phone, camera, laptop, etc. to the program, ACE is not liable for any damaged, lost or stolen items during the program.

We encourage students to talk with their family before departure to agree on a personal communication plan – how often students will check-in, by what means, etc. Though it is relatively simple to stay in touch with friends and family in all the programs, ACE encourages minimizing the time spent on electronic devices and social media.


All ACE participants will have some internet access throughout the program; however, please be aware that internet service may be more limited and slower than what students may be used to at home or on campus.

Program-specific means of communication

To find out more about communication resources available at each program site, please visit the program profile page to learn more.

To learn more about a specific program’s central service projects, typical daily schedule, cultural enrichment activities, and training opportunities, read the “Program Details” sections within the program profile of your student-athlete’s program site.

If you’d like to stay updated on what your student-athlete and other ACE participants are doing during their ACE experience, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Each ACE participant is also asked to share reflections on their experiences via the ACE program blog. Read student-athlete reflection blogs from previous summers.

Again, we also encourage students to talk with their family before departure to agree on a personal communication plan – how often students will check-in, by what means, etc. Though it is relatively simple to stay in touch with friends and family in all the programs, ACE encourages minimizing the time spent on electronic devices and social media.


As part of the program, ACE participants are provided and booked with a simple, round-trip airline ticket to their program site from an origination city of their choice. Learn more about booking flights and other helpful travel FAQs.