Let’s talk about AIESEC, shall we?

AIESEC is the largest international youth organization, present in 126 countries. Three members of AIESEC in Switzerland share their experiences.

What pushed you to join AIESEC in the first place?
Rémi: Firstly, I was motivated by the experience that a student association could bring through my studies. In addition to that, as I am studying International Relations, I was really interested in joining AIESEC because of its international and cross-cultural dimension.
Sarina: It was my Global Volunteer experience in Brazil, where I got to know AIESEC and what it is all about.
Thomas: Before joining, I spent the first semester of my university studies telling to myself how bored I was and how much I needed to meet new people and to get involved in something. I got interested in AIESEC thanks to the volunteering opportunities. That’s how I discovered a very active, interesting, and fun organization. When I learned that they were recruiting, I didn’t hesitate a second.

What has been your favorite part about your experience so far?
Rémi: That’s a good question because I’ve had so many incredible experiences within the organization. But I think my favorite one would be the last semester, when I participated fully in recruiting new members. I was so proud during the first meeting to see all these new faces and to tell myself that it was thanks to our hard work that we had such a successful recruitment!
Sarina: The possibility to accumulate experiences I could never get with only university itself. You get to develop and learn so much about yourself, acquire several new soft skills, and practise how to work in a team. All this in an atmosphere where mistakes are allowed and people become your friends.
Thomas: My favorite part was probably the time I spent as a Design Project Leader. I could create and lead promotions for the different opportunities offered by AIESEC. It was a great way to use my creativity for the benefit of our association and to exercise my ability to lead team projects. I felt very involved. Some of my work was even used for the promotions at the national level!

In your opinion, what is the most common misconception about AIESEC that people have?
Rémi: For me, some people see AIESEC as a travel agency. Some of them think that thanks to us they will find a nice place to go to during their summer holiday. They don’t seem to realize that they will be part of an incredible volunteering or a professional experience.
Sarina: The most common misconception is that if one doesn’t study Economics, the skills that one can acquire through AIESEC won’t be any good (e.g. for Biology students, etc). In my opinion, soft skills are useful for every profession, and personal development through AIESEC is a valuable thing you get next to creating a broad network of people across the globe.

AIESEC in Switzerland at the national conference Do It 2016

Why do you think someone should join AIESEC?
Rémi: You need to experience AIESEC as its member to form your own opinion about it and to really feel the reality of being a part of an international network, like sort of a tribe you will be really proud of. For me, AIESEC really brought me this “little” thing that was missing in my uni life and doing stuff for AIESEC became truly my hobby!
Sarina: Because it’s a worthwhile experience that will develop you into the best version of yourself, to have an incredible time with friends, and to stand out from other students after graduating having been collecting real-world experiences.
Thomas: I truly believe that joining AIESEC is one of the best ways to develop your sense of leadership, to learn how to work in a team, to get responsibilities, to expand your creativity, and more; all this while acting for a global cause. Most of the members are indeed constantly evolving through the organization, even if they joined out of curiosity! Add to this the fact that you’ll meet a lot of very interesting, proactive, and fun people, and you won’t wonder anymore “why should I join?”, but “why not?”. If you think that joining a student association might be a great idea, then joining AIESEC is probably the best one.

If AIESEC has been your missing piece of the puzzle, wait no more, and sign up here.

Author: Melani Kalev

What is it like to have your heart spread all over the world?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Nowadays, the more people you meet, the more you hear about those studying and/or working abroad, living far from the place where they grew up, having culturally mixed backgrounds, and what not. It is not unusual or super special anymore.

However, it’s not to say that it’s always so easy. Hell no. There can be many challenges to overcome and deal with, that are not always seen or felt by the outsiders who often rather seem to think that living abroad is a paradise life in itself. Paradise or not, all the lessons you learn through that will most probably be one of the best and the most formative ones you will ever learn.

One of the aforementioned challenges is meeting and loving people who are spread all over the world. We all need our own tribe, our squad, our people. But what happens when your squad is… well… mostly, all over Europe, for example? You just cope. But is there more than that?

friends

How does it really feel like having your heart spread all over the world?

To be really honest, you get used to it. You cope, yes. But you do get used to it. If you’re lucky, you can have different lives in different countries, and you never feel alone nor a stranger in your own home. You get used to missing people, so much so that you end up not missing them in the first place. Sometimes, sure, but most of the time… you’re just so used to being away from them.

However, there are also cases where it’s not so easy, where it rather feels like you’re always one foot in, one foot out – wherever you are. Home? Yes, but not exactly.

It’s not only about how your heart can’t settle in one place because of the places that you’ve been and the people you love. It’s also about the fact that you know how much is out there. It’s the fear of missing out (FoMO), but not in the context of social media. Your heart is restless. You want to escape. More often than not, it means you miss places and people you’ve never seen and you’ve never met.

You don’t know where to point when they ask about home. You don’t know where to point when they ask about your future home. Where do you see yourself? You don’t want to limit your choices. For God’s sake, there are so many of them. So many choices. So many places. Where is home? You find it in your heart and in your people, in memories and in interactions. However, geographically speaking, a meaning for one true home gets foggier and foggier with each passing year.

There are more and more World Citizens around us. The ones who take the world as their playground and who are bound to no place. The ones for whom “a home” is a very debatable subject and they are not actually linked to any kind of place per se. They make a home wherever they are, though they might never feel the typical “homebound” feeling which others are used to. And this is okay. This is the new reality that many of us face. And as mentioned, there can be many challenges to be faced on this journey, but the perks definitely outweigh them, at least most of the time.

Ah, and the aforementioned squad? The people you hold dear and close to your heart – fortunately, they are only a plane ride away.

So if you’d like to experience living abroad with all that it gives you, take a look at here.

Author: Melani Kalev

Is it possible to have clean water for everyone by 2030?

Did you know that 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water?

Probably yes, but did you also know that 2.5% of it is fresh and thus actually drinkable?

Doesn’t seem like a lot, but those 2.5% of fresh water could comfortably supply every living creature on Earth if exploited accordingly and intelligently. However, due to climate change and poor economics and infrastructure, many people are still denied this basic human right of clean water and sanitation. And it is mostly children who still die each year from diseases associated with poor water quality and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

Being at the very core of sustainable development, water and sanitation are critical for the survival of people, planet, and its prosperity. The scarcity of water, exposure to poor water quality and insufficient sanitation levels has a negative impact on livelihood choices, food security, and educational progress for adults and children across the globe. For example, the time-consuming and physically exhausting endeavor of procuring water in some areas of the world, such as in Asia or Africa prevents women from working at jobs and keeps children away from school, which in turn continues a cycle of poverty and socio-economic exclusion.

Furthermore, water is not only needed for domestic purposes, but also in agriculture for irrigation, and for industrial endeavors and energy production, for instance electricity. Water scarcity currently affects more than 40% of the world’s population, a figure set to rise due to growing demands on water supply, and rising temperatures as a consequence of climate change, the latter severing water scarcity in some parts of the world, and the risk of flooding in others.

“[…] water, sanitation and hygiene underpin so much of the rest of the goals. Those related to nutrition, health, education, poverty and economic growth, urban services, gender equality, resilience and climate change cannot be met without progress on water, sanitation and hygiene.”

– Sanjay Wijesekera, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF

Hence, Goal 6 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide. There are many different challenges which must be faced and different approaches through which these issues can be tackled and Goal 6 eventually achieved. Some of the targets for SDG 6 include:

  • giving more priority to the needs of children, girls, women and people in vulnerable situations;
  • ensuring water-catchment areas such as forests and mountains are well protected by discouraging human settlement and uncontrolled and illegal cutting of trees in these areas;
  • holding global campaigns to teach people on how to minimize on water wastage and why this is necessary;
  • promoting and supporting participation of communities in enhancing and improving sanitation and water management.

AIESEC in Switzerland has several opportunities for you to participate in making the targets for Goal 6 happen. Find them here.

Author: Catherine Barth