I chose to participate in the ACE in Place South Africa Program for many reasons. I was driven to join partly because of the cultural experience I’ve had as an international student and also partly due to the joy I have for meeting new people. I chose this particular virtual program because I was interested in South Africa and the country’s culture. Moreover, I was excited to be able to work with my Duke and Stanford student-athletes’ group to make a plan and contribute to a project that affected the future and has an impact on people’s lives. Through the ACE program I have met many amazing people and gained valuable experiences. I am super thankful that I received a chance to participate in the program.
One interesting thing I learned through this experience was about “load shedding” in South Africa (currently many South Africans experience periods of the day where they have reduced or no access to electricity). I was unaware of how unusual it was to have the electric access I have, which is almost 24/7. The other thing I learned which was important for me was about my values. In one of our sessions, we focused on personal values. I realized the values I have about myself, and I also realized that there are some different values within me that I thought were not true. I have learned about this thanks to this ACE program. In addition, Dr. Mlyn’s discussion during our pre-departure preparation taught me more about civic engagement.
Through the ACE program I have met many amazing people and gained valuable experiences. I am super thankful that I received a chance to participate in the program.
– Aleyna Ozkan, Duke Women’s Swimming & Diving
My experiences through this program were so much fun and meaningful, and I learned how to be more helpful to other people and have a tangible impact on their future. Working with my Duke and Stanford teammates, we brought a lot of different ideas together for our final group project. One thing I found challenging in my experience with ACE was having difficulty finding time to meet with my teammates. Since we were in five different time zones, it was challenging to find specific times to meet but we made it work.
Lastly, what I hope to take forward from this experience is to look at myself five years from now and ask myself to check my values. I would like to do the values activity we did in our ACE program again. I want to learn more about my values and compare them with my values from five years ago and see how I’ve changed.