Participating in ACE in Place South Africa expanded my world view and understanding of ethical service. I had doubts about the effectiveness of virtual service, especially without professional skills or extensive history with the organization. My expectations were blown away as GVI and SA Harvest both inspired and challenged our team. SA Harvest aims to tackle issues of food instability and food waste in South Africa. Currently, they have experienced exponential growth as they partner with restaurants and grocery stores. I was part of the education group and our objectives were to create in-person and virtual platforms to increase nutrition awareness in low-income communities. The three main issues that we wanted to address were nutrient deficiencies, lack of diet diversity, and food insecurity with poverty as a barrier.
I focused on the app idea and was challenged to think outside of the box in order to connect with both student populations and the general public. We decided to use gamification to connect with younger students by using soccer to teach users how to differentiate between food groups and therefore promote nutritional diversity. Additionally, we suggested using a food label scanner that ranked foods with a stoplight system and also suggested options that were around the same price but more nutrient dense.
“The speaker series was a unique advantage of having ACE remotely. Some speakers were more tailored towards the culture and politics of South Africa while others focused on conservation and sustainability.”
– Faith Zehfuss, Stanford Women’s Lightweight Rowing
The speaker series was a unique advantage of having ACE remotely. Some speakers were more tailored towards the culture and politics of South Africa while others focused on conservation and sustainability. One commonality that I saw among all of the service speakers was how honestly they spoke about learning from past mistakes and how they grew from past ineffective service. Using this growth mindset was very encouraging to me as I thought about how I want to integrate service into my career and future plans. I have learned more and more that service and passion don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It was incredible to see these smart, motivated people use their skills to make long-standing change.
I also thoroughly enjoyed how the cultural and community experiences were maintained even over Zoom. I loved practicing the clicks of the Xhosa language and dancing to Zulu music in my living room. I was able to join one of my ACE teammates to make a full South African meal via Zoom at 8AM California time! I’m thankful for SA Harvest’s vision to use design for practical nutritional decisions. The more that I learn about South African culture, language and history, the more excited I am to see it all in person!