“With my academic interests in public policy and global health, finding experiences where I am able to learn how to successfully engage with communities is very important to me. Being a student-athlete that competes in both the fall and spring, summer is really the time where I can pursue these types of experiences, and ACE made that search a lot easier by providing programs that are proven to work for student-athletes’ schedules.”
Ema Kuczura’s past experience with service includes coaching sports summer camps and coordinating groups of Duke student-athletes for volunteering at the Urban Ministries of Durham community shelter.
Ema is a junior from Chicago, IL majoring in Public Policy and Global Health. Ema participated in ACE in Vietnam the summer before her junior year, right in the middle of her time at Duke. While in Vietnam, Ema taught English, volleyball, and life skills to 6th and 7th graders. Having done ACE, she hopes to focus her next two years at Duke bringing the lessons she learned in Vietnam back to Durham. Namely, she hopes to pass on the enthusiasm and gratitude she experienced there so intensely to her fellow athletes and peers.
Want to hear more about Ema’s ACE experience? Contact Ema.
Dear Future #ACEathletes,
- Best advice for learning about ACE: I would thoroughly read the program descriptions not ignoring the little details. I learned about the ACE programs in this way. I also found it helpful to get coffee with my ACE ambassador to ask the more specific aspects of my program. When writing my application, I ran it by friends who had done ACE before and that was very helpful.
- Best advice for getting started at your program: My first days of ACE in Vietnam were so exciting that I could barely fall asleep each night, but I was able to settle in once we got to our site location. I think it’s normal to be a little on edge or excited for the first few days where everyone and everything is new, but it really does help to allow yourself to relax into the experience and get to know your teammates better. Forming fun relationships with your team members makes everything easier.
- Tips for getting to know your community: Getting to know the community in Vietnam had a lot to do with exploration. In our off time, it was amazing to walk around the town and see what the local shops and vendors were like. Everyone we met by chance on our walks to get smoothies or groceries was very friendly!
- Tips for training: Our days started very early since the camp we taught at started at 7 am. I would be prepared to get up very early to train. I would also suggest bringing workout “equipment” such as resistance bands to make workouts at the site easier.
- Tips for bringing ACE back to your team: My advice would be to share the enthusiasm you had for your program with as many people as possible. Encourage those you think would be good fits to apply, and make sure your coach knows you appreciate their support in encouraging you!
- Reasons for staying involved in ACE: I have decided to stay involved with the ACE program because I feel very grateful to have been gifted this opportunity to travel, learn, and meet so many new people. I want to make sure anyone who is interested in engaging with ACE has as many resources to make that possible as they can.