As my virtual ACE South Africa program has come to a close, I look back on my experience and interactions with my fellow student-athlete participants and the professionals we worked with. It was amazing to grow my relationships with the other Duke participants I already knew and such an incredible opportunity to meet Stanford students. Unfortunately, while we couldn’t all travel and meet in South Africa, we were still able to bond over Zoom meetings and FaceTime.
I was inspired by many of the speakers but was most impacted by learning about South Africa’s culture and lifestyle. From learning how to dance, speak, and cook, to learning about conservation and architecture, I got to dive deeper into South Africa’s world than I thought we would since it was a virtual experience.
“I was driven to participate because not only had I heard great things from past years but I wanted to be able to meet new people and form new relationships while researching and working for a good cause.”
– Natalie Maurer, Duke Women’s Soccer
I was driven to participate because not only had I heard great things from past years but I wanted to be able to meet new people and form new relationships while researching and working for a good cause. I thought ACE would be the perfect place to find other students driven by a passion to help others. I was also driven by our research topic of malnutrition in South Africa. As a student-athlete at Duke I’ve always been very focused on my own nutrition, so I was able to bring my passion into our research, which made it much more enjoyable than a typical research project.
While we didn’t get to travel to South Africa, all we learned inspired me to want to visit one day. Similarly, we got to listen to the ACE in Place Peru group present their findings, which was a welcome surprise because we got to learn about an extra culture which would not have happened if we were in-person. In the end, while I would’ve greatly enjoyed traveling to another continent, I still gained valuable insight into a culture and economy as well as developed new relationships with the other students and professionals we worked with. Working with GVI has encouraged me to potentially participate in one of their volunteer programs abroad one day.