Four years ago, I was just a first-year student in the University of Ottawa, Canada. I was beyond excited to start uni and learn, but most importantly meeting new people. As a foreigner in any country, it is very hard to make friends at first, so I decided I was going to join every club I liked on campus. I signed up for a sorority, attended choir meet ups, tried out for the volleyball team, and joined my program’s club, the Model of UN club, and AIESEC.
Out of all the experiences I had in uni, all the people I met, and all the clubs I joined, AIESEC has been the one where I stayed. I connect very much with the vision of peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential, and I have had countless opportunities to grow, learn, and develop myself both personally and professionally. I could write a book of all the things AIESEC has done for me throughout my life, but I am going to list the most important ones.
1/ AIESEC introduced me to the term “global citizen”
AIESEC has introduced me to people all around the world, and it has made it so much more personal. Working towards mutual understanding and respect of different cultures is part of being a global citizen. Now when I travel, it is not possible for me to be just a tourist. I want to know how life is in that place, what are the struggles of people in that country and what they care about the most. Understanding cultures as much as possible and being amazed by them is one of the best things I have learned from AIESEC.
2/ AIESEC pushed me to do things I didn’t think I was capable of
Talking in front of an audience, sharing my personal experiences, speaking up about the things that mattered to me - I was terrified at first. Now, after four years of being in this organisation, I have been able to experience what it is like to be the CEO of a social enterprise and discover my leadership style. I have also met important people in different business sectors, got Justin Trudeau (the Prime Minister of Canada!) to feature in an endorsement video, and I’m now moving to Australia to work on the national strategy of the entity. I would not been able to do any of these things if I was not in the environment that AIESEC fosters, and the opportunities that it offers to young people.
3/ AIESEC taught me how important reflection is for self-development
I used to think I knew myself. However, I quickly discovered in AIESEC that knowing what you want to do with your life does not necessarily mean that you are self-aware. In AIESEC we live very intense experiences which shape us as people, as teammates, and as professionals. I have reflected on my roles as a member, Vice-President, and President, and I now practice it in all aspects of my life. Reflecting on your experiences allows you to understand yourself, why you do what you do, while learning from it. Asking questions and forcing you to look deep into yourself allows you to grow as a person and become better at work and with your personal relationships.
AIESEC changed my life. Period.
The truth is AIESEC is not the same for everyone. We say: “you get out as much as you put in,” as a way of saying that the opportunities are endless and are all available for you to experience, but you have to go get them. I gave AIESEC my all, and what I have received in return is more than what I could have even imagined. I have travelled all across Canada, visited India, met people from 154 countries in an international conference, and I am now moving to Australia for a year, something that has been my dream for a long time. If I could do it all over again I would not even flinch.
I hope AIESEC can be for you what it has been for me. And even if you are not sure about it, I encourage you to try it out, go to a conference, and experience for yourself the energy of the youth leadership movement.
Interested in joining AIESEC? Sign up at: aiesecaustralia.org/movement