Why would anyone want to give up hours of their time for something with no tangible incentive? I’ve heard that people stay in the organisation for three main reasons: the people, the purpose, and self-development. In my time in AIESEC so far, I have felt all three—and that’s important, because I guess that puts me in a position to talk about why it’s the right place for everyone in some way. Except it doesn’t. I won’t pretend that AIESEC is for everyone, but coming from someone who has always struggled with celebrating the small victories and fought herself on every flaw, I think a lot of people will resonate with the feeling of wanting something more.
In my first year of uni, I wanted to leave the old me behind, so I joined AIESEC to actually do something meaningful with my time. To me, self-development meant something so simple: becoming someone I could be proud of. I stayed for personal growth in my first semester, and I got it—one semester of meeting strangers, making new friends, and volunteering for public speaking before you can talk yourself out of it really makes a difference to how you feel on the inside.
Naturally, I applied for the Team Leader role in semester two. I’ve had some correspondence with depression before, and this became more pronounced over the winter. It wasn’t the whole reason, but it made it more difficult to be around others and to problem-solve the wreckage of my work, and no one could convince me that things were anything but hopeless. During that time, I realised I owed so much growth and self-belief to the people in AIESEC. It was the fact that all the friends I had made were there to support me, that they believed wholeheartedly in me despite my insecurities and that we pushed each other to be better—that is an invaluable connection.
In my time in the Executive Board this semester, I have been discovering my personal connection to the AIESEC purpose.
What does it really mean to empower young people? What will true peace look like, and is it possible? You expect me to say I don’t know, and it’s true—I don’t. But I do know this: if someone makes you believe in your potential to realise your dreams, then you become powerful beyond measure. AIESEC might not be the perfect organisation for solving world hunger or ending all wars, but it has given me the hope I need to strive for that better world, and it has shaped me into a better, happier person. That is a purpose worth fighting for.
If there is something you are unhappy with, that change must start with you. And if you are not brave enough or powerful enough to make that change yet, trust that there are people who feel like you, who are like you, and AIESEC is a place full of people like that. AIESEC is a place for change, both for ourselves and for the world.