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Former Duke Wrestling team member and ACE in Vietnam 2018 alum Mitch Finesilver is currently competing all over the world and training for the Olympics. He credits ACE for igniting a love of traveling and global service, as well as for teaching him the importance of immersing oneself in other cultures.

What are you doing now? How did ACE influence your career pathway?

Currently, I am pursuing the Olympic dream. I train and compete all over the world. I am so fortunate that ACE opened the doors for me abroad. I had only been abroad a few times before doing ACE and now after, I have traveled to numerous places.

One thing I have taken from ACE is to really immerse myself in the cultures of the places I visit. It’s one thing to visit a country as a tourist but a completely different thing to really live like the locals and to interact with the culture as best you can.

Additionally, I am planning to still attend medical school, post-Olympics. ACE helped shape this path more because it helped me want to go into a selfless profession. I’m a firm believer that there’s power in helping others. From my ACE experience, I learned that it is extremely fulfilling to connect with people and form positive relationships. As a doctor, I would want to have a similar impact on my future patients.

What is one lesson from your ACE experience that still holds true today?

One lesson I think about often from my time with ACE is that no matter how hard things can be, happiness comes from the little things in life. I saw this lesson in the students I taught everyday. These kids often walked up to an hour and a half every morning to attend our summer camp (I know because I did the walk one day).

“I am so fortunate that ACE opened the doors for me abroad.”

– Mitch Finesilver, ACE in Vietnam 2018

They were happy, attentive, and ready to learn most days. They didn’t complain about being there, but rather were eager to learn. Their daily smiles energized me most days and forced me to be the best teacher I could be. In turn, the students would be more focused and more engaged. It often times turned into a positive feedback loop, making it a truly valuable experience for me.

Describe your ACE experience in as few words as possible.

Strenuously Rewarding.

What is one thing you want people to know about ACE?

I want people to know that the world is vast and every single person you encounter has their own story. I think it’s easy sometimes to get caught up in an egocentric thinking. It’s easy to do that sometimes, but it’s important to stay grounded in the idea that we all have battles, we all have struggles, and we all are human. If you can do the difficult task of approaching the world through that lens, instead of an egocentric one, the world as whole will be a lot better place.

What is one of the funniest memories from your ACE experience?

It’s hard to beat the sight of a ton of Stanford and Duke student-athletes doing karaoke in a private room. Enough said.