A few days ago I received a message from a recent graduate from a well-known development studies programme who I should call 'Julian'. He is about to travel to DRC for his first experience in an African developing country. And he wonders about his potential engagement - especially with his recently acquired critical knowledge of 'reflective aid work' in the back of his mind. Because his questions seem to become more important for a growing number of students and graduates I will reply to his message publicly. I will try to be constructive in my reply, rather than taking a short-cut as in 'maybe this is all about you and your self-indulgent mission to "help" people', because I honestly don't believe that this is what Julian's message is about. So instead, I will focus on three themes: The power of the everyday, the power of saying 'No' and the power of small successes.