AIESEC from inside: an interview with our MCP

AIESEC changes it’s executive boards every year, at national and at local level. Every year we have a new president and a new group of vice presidents who are responsible for guiding the organization during their one year term. In order to understand the organization better, we are bringing today the view from our current MCP (member’s comittee president),  Dyego Oliveira.

Born in Brazil, Dyego is now a citizen of the world, having visited, worked and impacted diverse cultures and environments over the last few years and the president of AIESEC in Switzerland for the term of 2016/17.

Tell us how a bit about your AIESEC journey

I started my journey in the organization in 2010,  hosting some exchange participants in my house, because I wanted to meet new cultures without leaving my home. I received people from Chile, the USA and in december 2011 I felt the eager to get out myself, so I went for a Global Volunteer in Egypt, in a project named “Where it all begins”. I went back to my homecity, finished my studies and by that time I decided to go abroad again, so I went for another volunteering project in Paraguay, in a communication project. I left there feeling a better person, in the way of giving value to life and things I had: There, I used to see people with big problems and disabilities, and still they were everyday welcoming me to the NGO with a big smile.

Two years later I went to India, for a Global Talent and there I faced some challenges, starting by the fact I was fired one week after I had started working. So there I was, on the other side of the world, unemployed and what I though was: “Let’s be Solution Oriented”. So I spoke to AIESEC back home and AIESEC in India and we were able to find another opportunity for me. After some months I found the opportunity to work at a new AIESEC committee that was opening in Paris. So I applied, got accepted to work as Marketing VP and one week later I was flying to Paris. It was really challenging, but still we were able to promote a great number of exchanges on our very first year, even more than some older committees. In November 2014 I got the chance to visit AIESEC in Switzerland, so in 2015 I applied for the national executive board (MC) and got accepted. Not satisfied with all the work we were doing, I decided to apply for another term on the organization, this time as MCP. I wanted to bring visibility to AIESEC in Switzerland, make it present in the Global Plennary and show the world that, even though we are in a very structured and stable country, we still have space to promote a lot of exchanges here.

How do you think that a working experience abroad (GT) shaped who you are today? How did you see your impact inside the company you worked in?

The experience taught me to become a more dettached person. I’ve always been very scared of losing people and things, but living abroad showed me that this is a natural and normal thing. It made me understand people, understand different cultures and that people have different points of view, so I learned to listen, respect, not judge them.  It increased my curiosity to understand what is going on in the world, it made me a more tolerant person as well as more analytical and capable of making more racional decisions. A Global Talent is longer right? It is different from a Global Volunteer, when you have only six weeks to live it all, it is very intense. When you have more time, you can take more time to adapt, to meet people and connect to them.

How do you evaluate AIESEC in Switzerland’s work with partners nowadays and what evolutions you see as natural for the next terms?

Well, there was a time when we would have up to 40 partners and nowadays we have around six. The partnerships were very much affected by problems with value delivery and quality of the experiences we were giving to our stakeholders. For me, quantity and quality are not opposites: you can deliver 1000 great experiences or 3 bad ones. I always defended and worked for quality experiences, given that it is fundamental to guarantee sustainability to the organization on the long term.

Switzerland is a great country, good economy and education and many big companies are not interested in AIESEC because of our international recruitment (it can be done online, without the work from a third party), so I think it is important for us to review the value preposition of our product for our country. We have to understand better our maket to develop better strategies. Global Entrepreneur is a product with great potential in the country, but it still has to be developed in terms of accomodation and visa issues. I also think that we must look at more data, to understand better what went well and what went wrong and improve on it.

Why do you think that AIESEC is important in Switzerland and why do you think it is important for us to be inserted in the second sector?

Well, I believe that AIESEC develops leadership by bringing people to work in challenging environments, with challenging job descriptions, where the exchange participant has to adapt quick, be agile and a fast learner. Switzerland, as a society, as a country is a place where talking about leadership is not so easy. Diversity here is not the largest and bringing foreigners to work here contributes to show to Swiss people how people with different backgrounds can add value to their companies and they can all learn from each other.

 

Interested in working closer to AIESEC?

Register at http://bit.ly/AIESEC_4_Companies

 

An exchange journey to India!

This week we are bringing an exchange story shared by Calliope Karavgoustis, a 23 years old AIESEC member who has decided to chellenge herself and volunteer abroad in Baroda, India, on July 2016.
What motivated you to go? I was already a member of AIESEC and I wanted to experience our products. Furthermore, I love traveling and at that time I really needed a break to discover another reality, I wanted to explore something completely new, meet new people, be in another environment. I also wanted to challenge myself by going to a country that is completely different than what I knew and India was fascinating me. Also, I knew that by going with AIESEC it would be easier to be integrated and take the best out of it. Finally, combining the discovery of a new country with a volunteering project seemed to be the best option in order to feel “useful” and to interact with the local community.

What were the main challenges for you? Everything was completely new to me and it was hard in the beginning to adapt to all that. It was challenging to figure out what behavior would be the most suitable. Everyone was looking at me since I was a foreigner and it was weird and a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. However I got used to it and once I started talking to people, most of them were really friendly.
Another challenge was that things don’t always go the way they should and when it is in a different environment, you need to adapt and be resilient to find solutions. My project changed somehow during my stay and I had to adapt to it, but in the end it turned out well.
Another challenging element was basically that I didn’t know anyone and I had to  “find my place”, make new friends, etc. But step by step and after the first days, I felt more comfortable and I had met already some very nice people.

How did AIESEC helpe you? AIESEC was very helpful especially during the first days because they helped me feeling more integrated and it was easier to understand their culture by being with them. Since we are the same age it’s also more convenient to spend time together. And they are used to welcome EPs, which makes everything more natural. Another good thing was that before leaving I could ask them lots of questions to get ready and feel more reassured.
During the whole stay, AIESEC Baroda invited us (the Exchange Participants) to any event they had and for any inquiry, I knew I could ask any of them, they were always ready to help.

In general, my stay was very enriching. Everyday I was discovering new things, learning a lot by myself as well as from others, I met amazing people, I could integrate the community and have a better overview of how is life in India. It was also a great journey for myself because I was put in a challenging environment that made me grow a lot!

AIESEC seen from an AIESECer

Hello, readers! Today we are sharing with you the story of one of AIESEC in Switzerland’s Exchange Participant, Nina Bianchi!
Nina went to India to work as a volunteer and you can find out more about her Leadership DeVelopment journey with AIESEC here:

“I’m Nina, 21 years old. I went on an Global Volunteer exchange in Kolkata, India, in August 2015 (so I was 19 then). I was already a member of AIESEC, and I had just started my term as LCVP (Local Committee Vice President).

I decided to go abroad to volunteer with AIESEC because I had some time in the summer, and I wanted to do something different than just travel or work here in Switzerland. For me, it was an opportunity to discover a new culture I was very curious about, and to do that from the “inside”, from a different point of view than a tourist. As an AIESECer, I also wanted to live the kind experiences we offer, so that I would be even more motivated to work for it and allow others to live it as well.

During my exchange, the main challenge for me was definitely the cultural differences, especially the work culture. Since I was working and living with Indians, I had to adapt a lot my habits and my way of thinking and working. It took me a week or two to get used to it and be able to work without getting frustrated or uncomfortable. But I would definitely say that I learned a lot from it and became much more easy-going and adaptable in my work in general, even once I was back in Switzerland. 
AIESEC in Kolkata really did everything to make my experience as smooth and rich as possible. I saw them a lot, they made me visit the city and their favorite places, and I got the opportunity to attend a lot of events from the Local Committee there, which was very interesting for me as an AIESEC member. They were also very available to answer my questions and concerns and to make sure that the communication with the school I was volunteering in was going well. 
I would definitely say that this exchange allowed me to develop myself, both on a personal level and in my professional experience there. Working and living in such a challenging environment definitely made me learn a lot on myself and the way I engage with others, whatever their culture and background can be.
Interested in knowing more about AIESEC? Register at http://bit.ly/AIESEC_4_Youth

An interview with a Global Talent!

Tim Buyl is a 26 years old Belgian recently graduated young talent who has decided to challenge himself and jump into a professional experience abroad. Nowadays, he is doing his Global Talent at Contrinex, as a Sales and Marketing administrator.

Check out what the experiences and learnings Tim shared with us on a recent interview and understand better what is it like to work with a Global Talent!

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your internship here in Switzerland.

My name is Tim Buyl, 26 years old and I live in Belgium (30 km from Brussels in a small village called Geraardsbergen). I first studied a Bachelor in SME-management in Gent and afterwards I did my master in Business Administration in Brussels. 

My function at the company Contrinex (headquarter in Fribourg, Switzerland) is Sales & Marketing administrator. The first 4 months I replaced somebody within the company due to a maternity leave and I was responsible for the prices. So I had to define the prices to the subsidiaries (because it’s an international company with 14 subsidiaries worldwide) and calculate the margins. It was a high responsibility because I (of course after the approval of the CSO) could decide which price the country managers could maintain to their customers. Next to that, I had other projects regarding prices and I had to do different jobs for the international key account manager and products managers. Now my function has changed to sales intern and I work on a project for the international key account manager. The project is more focused on Salesforce and it’s about defining a structure within the software for important customers of Contrinex.

What motivated you to do your internship abroad?

It felt like every year was the same for me at my home country. Every year I met the same people, went to the same parties and did the same student job. It was like every year was repeating itself and I knew from before what would happen at a certain moment. I had a feeling there were no more challenges. Besides, I really wanted to become more independent, learn other languages and meet new people. One day a guest speaker at my university, a CEO of a big company, really convinced me to go abroad. In his presentation he told us: ‘once you have the opportunity to go abroad, just do it. You will definitely learn a lot and the economics of Belgium is just a small percentage compared to the whole world.’ So all those reasons made me think about going abroad and of course it’s a good step in the right direction for your further career. Every business will see it as a positive point in your life, because it’s a proof that you are not scared to face challenges and that you are ambitious.

What do you think that were your main challenges and learnings so far in this experience? How did this experience change you?

The first, and probably the most difficult one, was to say goodbye to my family and friends. I had never gone abroad for such a long time and when I was driving to Switzerland I was thinking: ‘What am I doing?’. I guess the first days in a foreign country are the most difficult ones for everybody, but after one week or something you get used to it and you see the advantages of the experience.
As I told you, with this internship I wanted to improve my languages. So at the beginning it was harder to communicate because my English is not perfect and I recognized my French is really bad. Now I can say I really improved both languages, especially my English because it’s the daily spoken language within the company and also within AIESEC Switzerland.
Another challenge was meeting new people. It was difficult because as I mentioned before my French was not so good and I have to admit that Swiss people are very friendly, but they are reserved people, only when they drink something they are more open. But from the very beginning AIESEC Fribourg invited me to different events, drinks and meetings. So that was a good chance to feel comfortable in a different country and meet new people. I had the same challenge within the company, but the people are very friendly and kind. So I really like the corporate culture within this company and I had no problems at all to ask questions and talk to them.

Because of the help of AIESEC and the friendly colleagues, it was not difficult at all to integrate well in Switzerland. After a few weeks I was already used to the Swiss way of living and especially the beauty of the country also helped me to feel home. This experience changed me a lot. Within the company I learned many things, like computer skills, presentation competences, teamwork, etc. and of course I improved my languages. Besides my professional improvements, I also developed myself in many different aspects, like independency, organisational skills and communication. I also had the time to think about myself and know better what I really want in my further career and life in general. Actually I improved all aspects which were my motivations to start this internship.
What is the work environment like and how different is it from your home country?

I think there are not so many cultural differences compared to Belgium and the work environment is quite the same, but what I really noticed is that Swiss people work a lot. In Belgium normal working hours are around 7 h 30 min a day and here in Switzerland it’s minimum 9 hours. When I arrive at the company at 8 am most people are already at work and when I leave around 6 pm the same people are still working. They have a lot to do and work the whole day. You can also find it in Belgium but not every day or so often. But of course the salaries are much higher in Switzerland, so it maybe could be an explanation for the long working hours.
Switzerland is also famous for their quality of products. Within the company you see they invest a lot in R&D and quality control. Contrinex will always place the customer central, so the long working hours are in line with the perfect service they guarantee.
Switzerland is, in my opinion, a perfect country to live in. You feel safe in this country and all the people are kind and friendly.
Finally, I want to conclude this interview with a special thanks to Contrinex and AIESEC Switzerland for all the opportunities I received from them and they made my 6 months experience in Switzerland one I will never forget. I definitely recommend it to everybody and especially to do an internship abroad via AIESEC. You will develop yourself both in a professional and personal way and it will take you to a higher level in your life.

How did AIESEC help you in the experience?
One day I found the very interested internship opportunity in Switzerland and contacted people of AIESEC Fribourg. After an introduction interview with AIESEC Fribourg they accepted me and they gave me some advice for the interview with the company. After that it went really fast, and I received the good news that I was accepted to do the internship.

AIESEC in Belgium provided me the presentation and helped me in the process to apply for the internship. They helped me with the preparation of my departure and some administrative tasks. Once I started to do my internship they contacted me and asked if everything is alright on a sporadic occasion.

I really want to thank AIESEC Switzerland, and especially AIESEC Fribourg, for all the help and advice they provided me during my internship and all the invitations they sent to me. From the very first day people of AIESEC helped me to integrate well in Switzerland and invited me to meetings, parties, drinks, lead sessions, etc. I visited cities, learned a lot and met new people all due to the friendly and kind people within AIESEC. They organised lead sessions where you learn to develop your leadership skills and I had to give a presentation about my experience for potential new members. A testimonial, which I also made for AIESEC, is the following: “AIESEC Switzerland helped me to find an interesting internship, integrate well in a strange country and met new people. It encouraged my personal development, independency, languages and leadership skills. I will never forget this experience and I want to thank all the people of AIESEC Switzerland for the giving opportunities. This organisation delivers excellent work and motivates people all around the world to improve themselves and to boost their further careers”. It definitely describes this organisation and I recommend everybody to do it via AIESEC. They did a lot for me to succeed in this experience.
Awesome, right? Interested in working with a Global Talent in your company?
Register at http://bit.ly/AIESEC_4_Companies and be a part of our Leadership Development network!

Social Entrepreneurship – AIESEC Badung, Indonesia

I went abroad with AIESEC because I didn’t want to spend my summer holiday as a tourist.
I wanted to impact and to help people and I wanted to make a difference. AIESEC made this possible.
The Project “Social Entrepreneurship” in Bandung aimed to give economic aid to a poor village. We talked to the villagers and facilitated a workshop on how they could improve their living standards by working together as a team.
As easy as it sounds, we had some struggles to deal with. First of all, none of us 21 interns knew the language so we always needed someone to translate which made the conversations more difficult. Furthermore, most of the people in the village didn’t even know about the “better” life they could have and were more or less happy with the way it was.
I personally could develop quite some skills. I learned to be more patient, I learned about the issues coming up when working in an intercultural team (we were 21 Interns form 14 different countries) and I got to know about the Indonesian culture. Besides the main project, we also went to different high schools and presented our own culture to the students. We taught them about the canvas business model. To see them creating their own business model on their own idea was wonderful! Overall I had an amazing experience, that I would not trade for the world! The Indonesian people are extremely helpful, patient and understanding and the country has so much to offer: a rich culture, the most amazing food and a wonderful landscape. It was definitely not my last visit in Indonesia.

Indonesia

An awesome summer – Debrecen, Hungary

Last summer I got the opportunity to do an internship in Hungary. AIESEC Switzerland and AIESEC Hungary did a great job and managed everything.

I was picked up from the airport and brought to my hostel room. A single room for a reasonable price. Just like what I wanted. On the next day the responsible AIESEC member, showed me around the city, helped me to open a bank account and to get a student ID.

At the end, she even brought me to my workplace. Since then time passed quite fast. I made a lot of new friends at the office. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We went out together on weekends and we had loads of fun. I tried the traditional dishes (and beverages ;)) and went sightseeing with my colleagues.

My work was great. I had a lot of responsibility, and I carried out very interesting and challenging tasks. It was a great experience! Honstly, I have never expected to have SUCH a great time.

In Conclusion, I improved my soft-skills, made new friends, developed my English-knowledge and most important, got a lot of awesome memories for the rest of my life.

-Maximilian

Hungary

Experience the charm of Guadalajara

In summer 2014 I was happy to go on a journey to Mexico, to experience mexican culture and share my knowledge with locals and other interns in the beautiful city of Guadalajara.

From the very first day I was treated warm-heartedly and everybody was making sure I had an amazing time. I tasted delicious food, cooked by my caring host mother, street vendors or restaurants, was able to attend some salsa lessons and could pick up a few sentences of spanish.

Trips like the one to Tequila, with people from all over the world, visiting scenic beaches or stunning culture sites made my stay unforgettable.

Even in the short time of six weeks, I did learn a lot, I met people who impressed and inspired me and it became a moment, which shows me new opportunities and gives me motivation to reach for more.

It was a chance given to me to widen my horizon – and I took it!

Philipp, 28

Mexico

The best summer of my life – Hanoi, Vietnam

The best summer of my life

In 2012, I spent the best summer of my life: For eight weeks, I went on a Volunteering Internship to Hanoi, Vietnam, – the city between the rivers.

Together with 20 interns from 15 different countries, we organized the “Global Leadership Activating Day”, a conference about “Social Responsibility” for vietnamese students.

Working in such an international team was amazing and I learned a lot about other cultures and practices; also the work with the Swiss Embassy and different local organizations was very interesting.

We not only worked, but also lived there with locals. Together we traveled the country, ate the most delicious food and experienced the beauty of the vietnamese culture.

I can only recommend to all young people:

Go out into the world and dare to experience an amazing journey!

Cedric, 23

Hanoi, Vietnam

General information on going abroad with AIESEC

AIESEC aims to create an understanding between cultures through the Global Community Development Program. Our international network is organizing this exchange program to provide you a fun and meaningful experience and the chance to immerse yourself in a foreign culture. It is an excellent opportunity for you to develop your entrepreneurial and leadership skills, to experience cultural diversity by creating direct positive impact.

AIESEC’s unique Global Community Development Program provides volunteer opportunities to help foster global awareness of cultural differences and social and environmental issues within local communities. Our exchanges range from 6 weeks to 12 weeks. Submerse yourself in the lifestyles of countries you’ve never been to!

Our GLOBAL CITIZEN program is divided in:

– GLOBAL CITIZEN Education

– GLOBAL CITIZEN Social Work

– GLOBAL CITIZEN Entrepreneurship

 

How can you take part in one of our programs?

Depending upon your university schedule, you can travel anytime, but the major peaks for project always are:

Winter Break: Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar

Summer Break: June-July-August

Volunteering means the position is unpaid. However, you will receive:

Accommodation: Included for the duration of the program either in a volunteer apartment/shared flat where you will be staying with a group of volunteers or at the local host family to increase the cultural experience.

Meals: Depending on the project up to 2-3 meals per day will be offered.

 

Application Process

1. Information & Application

Learn about our programmes either through an info-event, promotion or blog. Check the opportunities you have in all over the world through this website:

https://opportunities.aiesec.org/

Fill in the application form.

2. Interview

We would like to check your motivation, expectations and skills to go on an internship, we would also want to make sure that we can offer you the most suitable opportunities.

3. Preparation Seminar

In a one day long preparation seminar you will get prepared and ready to live in a different culture and get tips on how to find the most suitable internship.

4. Project Application

Start applying for the different projects. Your AIESEC coach will support you during the whole process.

5. Volunteer Experience

Start living your volunteer experience and learn about the destination’s culture, customs, history and challenges.

6. Return

Share your experience with others and inspire them to go on an internship as well. Become a member or a leader of your local AIESEC committee.

Living Diversity for World Peace

The World’s Very Real Need for Cultural Understanding

AIESEC emerged from a period in time when cultural understanding was at an all-time low. In the years following the Second World War, the whole of the European continent was ravaged to the ground. Each nation was coping with its own grave losses, and between all countries there was tremendous disconnect. Not only was there pressure to educate and create individuals capable of rebuilding their countries, there was also the very real need to repair damaged European relations.

Looking at the world today, one can’t help but notice striking similarities. Devastation, turmoil, anger, despair—none of these are strangers to us, even though it has been seventy years since the end of what is dubbed the deadliest conflict in human history.

Furthermore, what the world suffers from today is not the disconnection within a continent, but rather, the tensions within an entire planet. We suffer today from disconnect between continents, between nations, within countries, within communities. We are suffering from differences in ideology, in religion, and in culture. And it is becoming abundantly clear that such differences can have fatal consequences.

“Solidarity” (Source: ABC News)

In the first week of January, the world was deeply shaken by the Charlie Hebdo shooting that occurred in Paris—an event that has resulted in global repercussions for numerous other nations. It has also drawn attention to a number of ongoing conflicts throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

In the days that followed, the world saw two categories of reactions: outbreaks of conflict and marches of solidarity.

In the week that followed the shootings, fifty-four anti-Muslim attacks were reported in France. Conflicts escalated in reaction to Charlie Hebdo’s resumed publication with the controversial cover—in Niger, violent protests resulted in the deaths of ten people, with dozens injured, and a number of churches burned. Similar protests also occurred in Pakistan and Algeria.

Stop Charlie Niger

Source: .usnews.com

Meanwhile, over 100,000 people in France took to the streets for candlelit vigils in demonstrations of solidarity. The slogan, “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie in French), became simultaneously an endorsement from freedom of speech and a way to honour the victims of the shooting. Similar vigils took place all over the globe in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, to name a few. In what officials called the largest public rally in France since World War II, up to two million people marched in a ‘unity rally’, joined by more than 40 world leaders.

Two weeks ago, a youth was stabbed to death in Dresden, Germany—a city that has been the hotbed for anti-immigrant and ‘anti-Islamisation’ movements by the organization PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, in German). This, in turn, has resulted in numerous counter-demonstrations across the country against racism, calling for cultural acceptance and tolerance.

Dresden Germany Marches

Source: Slate.com

Looking at these stories, a ripple effect becomes clear—the current issues now are either recurring or ongoing reactions to other issues. The stories become convoluted into an overarching narrative of conflict. We must understand, however, that intolerance is equivalent to blindness. With cultural tensions on the rise, how are we to reconcile our differences?

What would the world be like if instead of differences, we choose to see similarities? Like the unity rally, which brought masses of people and a multitude of nations together—for the first time since the Second World War!—what would the world be like if we reveled in diversity, instead of seeking to destroy it?

We return again to the original mission of AIESEC: “to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time”. As stated in our “Why We Do What We Do” video, “When you see the world, you can begin to understand it. And when we understand it, we can begin to change it.”

It’s a big world out there, made up of many, many individuals—7 billion of them, to be exact. Here in AIESEC, one of our six core values is Living Diversity. We believe that everyone, because of their own culture and place in life, has something valuable to offer, and we seek to encourage the contribution of each individual.

Each and every one of us has a choice every day—will you choose peace?