“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” | Miriam Adeney
I was only in my second year of university when I got a taste of what it’s like to work and travel — a lifestyle I’ve insisted on pursuing for many years. And although it wasn’t a year-long experience, I managed to fit four separate trips overseas while studying full-time in a double degree.
I was able to do this because I was a part of AIESEC, and its nature as a global organisation means there are abundant opportunities to take your involvement further, whether that be interstate or overseas. This part of AIESEC is easily one of my favourite, so I wanted to share a bit about each of my experiences.
ONE: PERU (EXCHANGE)
The first episode of my travels started in the new year and took me across the globe from Sydney to Lima, Peru. This was my Global Volunteer exchange and I decided to develop myself and contribute to society in a country whose people and culture I was incredibly unfamiliar with. As I look back now, this exchange was, to-date, one of the biggest turning points of my personal development and leadership journey because I learned about my own ability to embrace challenges. Read more about it here!
The most important part of this story is, however, that you don’t have to be an AIESECer to have an experience like this for yourself. AIESEC exists so that young people can equip themselves with the necessary skills and self-awareness developed through practical experiences like mine to lead a better future for the world. Only one click stands between you and a life-changing opportunity.
TWO: SRI LANKA (INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE)
In March, I, along with a few other AIESECers from across the country, represented the network of AIESEC in Australia at our organisation’s annual Asia-Pacific Conference. After making the necessary preparations to take a week off university, I spent around 10 days in Colombo, Sri Lanka at a conference where youth from the twenty or so countries in our region gathered to learn from each other, upskill ourselves, and engage in conversations about the unity and diversity of our lives and what kind of actions we can to take to shape a more responsible and culturally-aware society.
These kind of touchpoints are really an eye-opener to the possibility of change through young people who feel an ownership towards the world that they live in, and it’s the coolest thing I see in AIESEC every day.
THREE: THAILAND (WORK PLACEMENT)
During the winter semester break, I went to Thailand on a CEEDership, which is essentially a work placement in AIESEC terms. For around three weeks, I was based in Bangkok and was responsible for researching and coordinating the sales and customer experience of AIESEC operations between Australia and Thailand. On this trip, aside from local Thai AIESECers, I met people from different corners of the world (Brazil, Malaysia, Romania, etc.) who were working full-time for AIESEC in Thailand because they believed in furthering the cause of AIESEC beyond their home country. That kind of commitment reminded me just how real the impact of a youth leadership movement can be.
This was such a unique opportunity to live like a local, do something productive and travel a new city in the short university break.
FOUR: NEPAL (REGIONAL SUMMIT)
At the end of the year, I attended a leadership summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, with a few of my fellow incoming-Presidents for the 2019 AIESEC term. This was another international conference and touchpoint that allowed the leaders of AIESEC in the Asia-Pacific region to meet and collaborate with each other in order to strive for the common goal of Peace and Fulfilment of humankind’s potential for yet another year. As a representative of AIESEC in Australia, it was incredibly humbling to be a part of conversations that reaffirmed the relevance of youth leadership for Australia and the world we are a part of, and it was just as motivating to see my colleagues do the same.
Whilst I didn’t scale Mt. Everest, I felt I ended my year on new heights and behind it all, I’m grateful I gave AIESEC a chance because I’ve reaped the rewards of many opportunities, abroad and at home.