As part of preparation for their service experience, the entire 2022 ACE cohort engaged in conversation with Dr. Eric Mlyn, a Lecturer in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Kenan Institute for Ethics before the ACE programs began this summer. Dr. Mlyn investigates the ethics of service and what it looks like to engage in culturally sensitive service.
This year, Dr. Mlyn advised the 2022 ACE cohorts to go into these experiences with a humble mindset and remember that they do not intimately know the community partner’s culture. Therefore, they cannot know what’s best for the surrounding community.
Stanford Men’s Swimming and Diving member Rick Mihm shares how this reminder to stay humble helped him get the most out of the ACE in Place Peru program, writing, “this mindset allowed me to approach things in a way that I hadn’t before.” Once the ACE in Peru program began, Rick noted that the program leaders such as the GVI team, cultural expert Ricardo Rivera, and guest speakers who work in nonprofit organizations reinforced Dr. Mlyn’s sentiment.
The ACE in Place Peru team, made up of Rick, Gisele Tapia (Duke Softball), and Katya Sander (Stanford Women’s Gymnastics) virtually collaborated primarily with CDS. CDS is an NGO dedicated to supporting environmental conservation efforts in the Peruvian rainforest. The ACE team specifically worked with Director Flor Trama to create a marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness of CDS fundraisers happening on college campuses in the US.
“Throughout the entire program, we got to speak to experts in their profession during Master Classes, life coaches during coaching sessions, our dedicated supervisors, and such talented and inspirational student-athlete peers that I had never met before from both Stanford and Duke!”
– Katya Sander, Stanford Women’s Gymnastics
In addition to working directly with the CDS director, Stanford Women’s Gymnastics teammate Katya Sander appreciated how the ACE in Place Peru team had the opportunity to hear from a variety of experts. She explains, “Throughout the entire program, we got to speak to experts in their profession during Master Classes, life coaches during coaching sessions, our dedicated supervisors, and such talented and inspirational student-athlete peers that I had never met before from both Stanford and Duke!”
The collaborative nature of this virtual program allowed the ACE in Place Peru participants to hear from experts like Rory, Director of Recycle Rebuilt, a non-profit that trains members of a community to recycle waste into building materials. Rory told the ACE team how his initial sustainability projects failed because of assumptions about what was best for the community. However, perseverance and a humble mindset helped Rory later build the successful non-profit that is now Recycle Rebuilt.
“This mindset allowed me to approach things in a way that I hadn’t before.”
– Rick Mihm, Stanford Men’s Swimming and Diving
Rick, Katya and Gisele all agreed that hearing from these experts gave them some key takeaways from the ACE program. Gisele claims that her biggest lesson is to “listen first” when participating in civic engagement, while Katya recalls learning how “we cannot most effectively serve with others unless we can understand the community we are working with.”