There are not many countries as diverse as Indonesia, so it’s no surprise that there is a wide range of opportunities and experiences to be had in Indonesia with AIESEC. I recently spoke with Jonathan Zhang, who went to Semarang earlier this year to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with their marketing, branding and media exposure. During the six week exchange with AIESEC he visited local SMEs, analysed their condition, organised exhibitions for the SMEs to showcase their product and spoke to high school students to increase awareness about entrepreneurship.
I asked Jonathan a few questions about his journey:
What made you want to go on exchange with AIESEC?
Before going on exchange I definitely felt that I was not making the most out of my experience as a university student. When I began to question what more I could be doing, I came across volunteering overbroad, and this in turn made me find out about AIESEC. So when I was walking around university I actually came across someone from AIESEC who asked me to sign up if I was interested. When it came to the decision to take the leap and go on exchange I definitely reflected on the fact that this was probably the last time I could do something like an AIESEC exchange for the remainder of my university life. So, having that in mind, I applied straight away.
What was your most memorable experience?
It was during my time helping out with a small local community for disabled people. What the community members would do was make different clothes and handicraft, and they would then sell it on and keep the profits. Our main goal was to help them with any problems they had in terms of marketing, but it ended up being so much more than that. Meeting all the people at the community, being able to learn their stories and just seeing the fact that everyone was having so much fun really created a sense of family and belonging, despite their difficult circumstances.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself from this experience?
The biggest thing I learned was that I am capable of helping people in my own way. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and before I went on exchange I was still uncertain about what impact I could actually make. However, as I became more involved in the project and understanding what my purpose was, I made sure that everything I did I would always give 100%, and that I was capable of doing things I thought otherwise before.
What would you say to those considering going to the country you got to explore with AIESEC?
Immerse yourself into the culture! The delicious food, the amazing people, the breathtaking nature, all of it. The Indonesian people were so welcoming and friendly to me, and I definitely feel that just interacting with these wonderful people would be an extremely rewarding experience. Talk to your neighbours, the drivers, and anyone that come across! If you encounter something that is different from your home country then I would definitely encourage you to give it a go and learn more about it.
If you're interested in knowing more about an AIESEC exchange to Indonesia, please follow this link: https://www.aiesecaustralia.org/explore/indonesia
You can also apply to Jonathan's project in Semarang here: https://aiesec.org/opportunity/866666