“The ACE in South Africa program is worth it to me because it is a great opportunity to volunteer in civic engagement and help make a positive difference in peoples’ lives. It is also a great way to diversify my own worldly experiences in hopes of improving myself as a member of my own community.”
As part of the ACE in South Africa program, participants will assist with basic healthcare initiatives, activity-based education and teaching, light construction, and sports programs in the community of Nomzamo township near Cape Town.
Araad’s past experiences with service include coaching youth in the Blue Blood Wrestling Club camp at Duke and serving as an ACTION mentor, helping first-year student-athletes with their transition to life in NCAA Division I athletics.
Araad is a junior on the Duke Wrestling Team and a Durham native. At Duke, he is pursuing a major in Political Science along with a minor in History and a MMS certificate. He is involved in Duke Athletics, showing commitment as a mentor for the ACTION program in addition to coaching youth for the Blue Blood Wrestling Club. While in Cape Town, Araad grew close with the children of ACJ Primary School in Nomzamo Township and hopes to use his experiences to further develop his community engagement and coaching skills. Araad looks forward to giving back to the ACE program as an ACE ambassador to assist future participants in having the most influential and impactful experience they can. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and close friends in Durham.
Want to hear more about Araad’s ACE experience? Contact Araad.
Dear Future #ACEathletes,
- Best advice for learning about ACE: I selected the South Africa program after reading all the program descriptions on the ACE website in addition to talking to a teammate of mine(JakeFaust) who was an ACE participant the year before. I decided on South Africa because of the opportunity to teach sports in addition to women’s empowerment and health which are essential rights to all people. In selecting a program, find what you are passionate in teaching while also picking a location you are interested in visiting.
- Best advice for applying for ACE: Definitely manage your time well and don’t procrastinate the application process. Take your time in completing all the material honestly while talking on your strengths to find the best program fit for you. I knew I was qualified for the South Africa program given my past experience in coaching and working with youth in addition to my passion to develop these strengths further while serving the community.
- Best advice for getting started at your program: The first few days on base were the adjustment period. Taking it all in –the new community, language, and culture. It was an interesting vibe as we adjusted –the days were long but the week went by fast. Thankfully, our pre-departure meetings with our ACE Ambassadors did a great job of preparing us for what to expect and how to carry on with our day-to-day tasks efficiently. Our ACE team had a really good chemistry right off the bat and I think our personalities played a huge part in that. Our progress was seen in watching the kids improve in the sports we taught them, the women at the community centers developed typing and interview skills, and the progress we made on the greenhouse despite short time and adversity throughout the project.
- Tips for getting to know your community: I built relationships with the community, especially the children at the primary school, mainly by trying to understand their culture. Learning the local language and understanding norms showed the community members our commitment to getting to know them and their upbringing. Embracing the new culture and then exchanging similarities and differences between our own helped us to get to know each other better. Additionally, just being active in playing sports with the kids and getting to know them on a personal level was essential. I’ve always been a very open-minded person, especially when learning about cultures different from my own, but actually immersing myself in a new community helped expand my views to a more worldly perspective.
- Tips for training: We got the opportunity to go to a great gym every day and keep up with our training programs that we would do while at home. Balancing training time was not an issue given that we were on a very managed schedule. Training with other student-athletes was also a great experience to see how other teams train and even pick up a few training methods here and there as well