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One piece of advice that I was given before I left on my trip for ACE in South Africa was to cherish the moment. When I heard that I thought to myself, “Well, duh, you always do that,” but boy do I wish I had done more of that. These past three weeks have flown by incredibly quickly.  It is super corny to say, but it was definitely because I was having fun. I was too busy laughing with the kids in Nomzamo, too busy excitedly telling everyone how quickly the women I had worked with had conquered Excel, and too busy building lasting friendships to really cherish and appreciate the moment because it was “just a moment.”

This “moment” was one of the best moments of my life. Every experience was new and different and helped me grow immensely as a person, teacher, and friend but all of it seemed to last for just a moment. One morning we were excited to go to camp the first day and then in the blink of an eye we were all crying on our way to the airport.

“I hope I can come back to Duke and make a lasting impression on my teammates and other friends. I hope telling my experience will help them want to do something similar and want to go out into the world and make a difference and experience different cultures. If I can’t do that then my moment with ACE will just have been a moment, and I will have wasted a valuable opportunity to make it much, much more.”

I think looking back on the advice that I was given I would add onto it. Cherish the moment of this amazing experience, but don’t make it a “moment.” Make it last longer. Create bonds, friendships, and learn lessons that will endure longer than a moment. Learn humility from one of your campers, Lucky, when he tells you that he has to sleep in a room with nine other people and make that feeling last. Use that lesson to make a difference. Learn how to be a more positive and wholesome friend from your entire group and make that last.

group shot of students by Cape Point sign

But most importantly learn how to use all of this and turn the best moment of your life so far into much more than a moment. Cherish your moment but bring that moment back to Duke or Stanford and make it last. Talk about it whenever you can and keep hanging onto it and bring in others to experience some of your moment. Share your stories so others will know and they can experience the moment. But never ever let your moment just be that, just a moment.

I hope I can come back to Duke and make a lasting impression on my teammates and other friends. I hope sharing my experience will help them want to do something similar and want to go out into the world and make a difference and experience different cultures. If I can’t do that then my moment with ACE will just have been a moment, and I will have wasted a valuable opportunity to make it much, much more.

sunset in Gordon's Bay, South Africa

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