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Participating in ACE this summer has been surprisingly rewarding. And don’t get me wrong, I knew I would end this summer with a sense of accomplishment and hopefully know that I did some good, but the community partners made this experience incredibly valuable from multiple standpoints. SA Harvest is an incredible organization that does outstanding work.

At first, it was a little intimidating working with them. How are some college students supposed to have a lasting impact on an organization that already impacts surrounding communities in inspiring ways? That is a question I found myself asking at the beginning of the program, but on our final day, I knew we had worked on something that will have a lasting impact within SA Harvest.

I worked with Suhas (Stanford Wrestling) and Faith (Stanford Ltw. Rowing) on the education portion of the project – proposing ideas to SA Harvest on frameworks to best provide nutritional and food waste education. Since this was a virtual experience, we found it easier to divide our project into sections while still collaborating on ideas. I got to work on in-person education examples, researching top nutrition education tools and landing on computers-assisted learning, grocery store/food vendor tours, and culinary lessons. And while researching these ideas to propose to SA Harvest did not seem like much to me, it was clear at our final presentation with their COO, Ozzy, that our ideas and suggestions would greatly impact their organization and their goals. His kind words and grace will stick with me far after this project.

“Being a student-athlete, time at home and with family is limited, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic this time became even more precious.”

– Deja Davis, Duke Softball

Ozzy’s testament to the work of SA Harvest and interactions with us made this experience rewarding, but I also gained some priceless knowledge and skills. From our coaching sessions to learning more about South Africa in general and taking Zulu and Xhosa lessons I grew intellectually and professionally throughout these three weeks. In this way, the ACE in Place 2021 program was incredibly valuable.

To go on, I leave the program knowing I made a true difference in the future of SA Harvest and have gained skills that will last a lifetime. Being able to enjoy this experience at home has had its own advantages. Being a student-athlete, time at home and with family is limited, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic this time became even more precious. So, while I am also thankful for the program itself and what I am walking out of it with, I am grateful to have been able to have been home and close to family throughout it all.

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