After a 42-hour journey that included five flights and a layover in Canada, I sit at home reflecting on my time in China. I have encountered so much and am ever so thankful to have been given the opportunity to participate in ACE. Here are some of my thoughts:
In just three short weeks, I have made eight great friends. When we met at the Hong Kong airport, everyone was eager to get to know each other. This environment fostered the growth of our bonds because we were willing to put in the time and effort to understand one another. Every night, we had reflection time and Sam, our program director, would often challenge us with her questions. During this period, we shared our own unique values, goals, and challenges in an encouraging and judgement-free space. ACE has shown me that it is possible to form a deep bond with strangers, given the right setting.
Although we were in charge of running the sports/English camp, I felt that I was truly the student. The campers’ enthusiasm to learn was infectious, and it was exhausting trying to keep up with them. It was difficult to balance discipline with amusement because attention spans don’t last forever, but my fellow ACE participants and I were able to collectively handle each situation that came our way. I was so grateful to work in a team that shared a common goal. It was the ultimate collaborative experience.
The diversity of Tibetan culture is astounding. We learned that it is possible for two neighboring villages to have varying dialects and traditions. Before coming on this trip, I was unaware of this immense variation. But, after learning from the wonderful staff at CERS, I have gained a greater understanding about the region and the community members that live there. Because of this experience, I know that my perspective will be different for cultures that I’ll encounter in the future. There should be an inherent respect for each region and the traditions that the people uphold; I hope to retain this integrity in my future travels.
When I return to school, I want to encourage others to participate in summer programs such as ACE, DukeEngage, or study abroad. It is such a rewarding experience that the University endorses and can help enrich one’s college career. Furthermore, I hope to be more involved with on-campus activities ranging from student-group sponsored activities or departmental events. While my ACE experience is over, my time at Duke isn’t quite done yet. I want to make the most of that time.
A game of improvised soccer during the camp.