Have you ever plugged in a lamp, turned it on, and the light brightened the room? Ashleigh Dennis was that lamp, and that light, was AIESEC. If you were to ask Ashleigh to describe herself in one word before, she’d simply say “Wallflower”. To those wondering what that word means, well the literal meaning would be a southern European plant with fragrant flowers, however that’s not quite the definition we’re looking for. A wallflower in this case would be a shy or excluded person, which were amongst other words she used to describe herself. That was until August 2015, when her story began.
She began her journey as a member in TM (Talent Management) and initially joined to gain experience aligned with her studies and what AIESEC skills she could gain. It then went on to how she could help others through her work in AIESEC. Then she became the TL (Team Leader) of her TM (Talent Management) function and it became more about creating an awesome experience for others and making them see the purpose of being in AIESEC. In 2016, she became the TL (Team Leader) for OGV (Outgoing Global Volunteer) Physical Marketing which really allowed her to understand the product and help communicate the benefits of the product to others, as well as learned to appreciate and see the value of the product. Fast forward to 2017 where she became part of the Executive Board (EB) for AIESEC in Curtin as the Vice President of Talent Management (TM) and Finance. Throughout that particular experience, she faced many challenges and obstacles, and went through a lot of ‘fire-fighting’, which made it hard for her to see her impact and what her work meant for the Local Committee (LC) at Curtin.
Overcoming those challenges, she soon realized how the simplest and smallest of actions can cause impact. In 2017, Ashleigh had the opportunity to go on exchange to Myanmar for SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) 4, Quality Education. It was certainly an eye-opening experience for her, as a person and as an AIESECer. Being an AIESECer beforehand made it different from the normal EP (Exchange Participant) experience. Teaching kids was incredible as she could use her already developed AIESEC skills and put them to use. Throughout her exchange, she found herself developing more skills such as being solution-oriented, self-aware in using her strengths and focusing more about what she can do rather than can’t. She also learned to accept things as they came, and not overthink.
“I am now someone who doesn’t see challenges as scary anymore but someone who learns from the obstacles she faces. Someone who fights for what she wants”. –Ashleigh-
Taking all her learnings from that experience, she ran for Local Committee President (LCP) in September 2017, because she wanted to empower the LC (Local Committee) in doing what they wanted to do and take ownership over what they do. At the end of the day she wasn’t happy with how much fight she put into PnF (Peace and Fulfilment) and it just motivated her more to want people to recognize their potential to make a difference. She wanted people in Australia to take these opportunities that allow them to understand what we do is simple, but at the end of the day people who go on exchange develop leadership and that’s how we achieve PnF (Peace and Fulfilment). As of 2018, she is now the Local Committee President (LCP) for AIESEC in Curtin. She is now someone who fights, who believes and someone who changes. She has more confidence in herself than ever as well as her ability to empower others.
Ashleigh describes AIESEC as ‘purposeful procrastination’. Instead of binge watching the next Netflix series or going through playlists of videos on YouTube when taking a break from her priorities such as work and her studies, she always ends up doing something AIESEC related now, hence the term. Over the years she has been with AIESEC, Ashleigh witnessed herself grow, specifically in her communication and presentation skills, as well as her confidence. I would assume with all that experience, you’d want to hear some advice?
“We all say we want to make an impact, but what are you really doing about it to fulfil the purpose you set for yourself? By joining AIESEC, you will gain so much in terms of skills, friendship and growth, but you’d also be achieving PnF (Peace and Fulfilment of Humandkind's Potential). If you really want something you have to work for it”.
Couldn’t have said it any better. If you want to have a story like Ashleigh's, you have until January 30th to apply to this incredible organisation.
What are you waiting for? aiesecaustralia.org/movement