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Ashley Dunfee Kane is an Internal Medicine and Pediatric resident at the University of Rochester Medical Center. After graduating from Duke, she completed her MS and MD at the University of Michigan. Ashley wrote the below poem about her experience working with Social Entrepreneur Corps through DukeEngage-Guatemala in 2008. Have questions for Ashley? Reach her at


Smell is the strongest sense tied to memory


The air passed across my face

And brought, without warning, a presence:

The presence of that summer,

When I lived for a time in Guatemala.

So visceral, and so unique,

The smells of those forgotten streets –

Almost forgotten. I once tried to forget and failed.

Success would have been disaster.

But that smell –

A breath of heat,

A blink awash with sun-beaten road dust and the aftertaste of the morning’s rain;

The exhaust fumes from the camioneta and the chickens and lunch boxes sharing its luggage racks;

The indefinite presence of volcanoes.

The scents of fresh baked bread

And of wet cement.

Of flowers, and of people almost forgotten,

And then, in one moment,


And in the next, nothing, except the small gasp of a vacuum,

Opened and shut,

Where something once remembered is missing.


group of students from 2009 with DukeEngage-Guatemala
The 2008 DukeEngage-Guatemala cohort.