Does Shrek like spicy food?

By: Joakim I. Andersen

“So much to do, so much to see, so what’s wrong with taking the back streets?” There is a little Shrek in all of us, right? Sharing some of his characteristics: obviously not being the most extrovert (even a little shy) – that, onions, needs to be opened layer by layer, and kind of comfortable in my daily routines – when was the right time to take action, step out of the comfort zone and challenge myself? Rhetorical questions rarely need an answer – it’s too obvious!

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I wasn’t even planning to go to India – so the lyrics actually applies even more to my story of ending up here. My “original plan” was to try something in Europe or the US, without much luck I have to admit. I was on the brink of just giving up applying through Opportunities Portal (a website where you can find all AIESEC opportunities worldwide. But I’ve learned through experience to grab my opportunities with both hands; you never know when it’s too late, and it is an attitude I’ve tried to adopt on a daily basis. So when I was finally invited for an interview I basically just said ‘Yes”, without thinking more about what I said yes to – actually without knowing I had applied for an opportunity in India, believe it or not! And when the recruiter offered me the position, I again, a little surprised (and amazed), spontaneously pronounced the two vowels followed by the consonant. Perhaps unable to declining anything or without thinking properly through my answers in general, I am now more than halfway through my 6 months internship, working as a business development executive in a software company, in a small city (by local standards).

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I still wonder why I got the business development position, as my master degree in business administration is more specialized towards strategy and organizational leadership than to marketing. At least it’s related to business I guess… Maybe the company was a little desperate for people with Nordic language capabilities, and thinking “he’ll just have to catch up with the marketing part later”? That will remain pure speculation from my side. At least I’m gaining international experience, and I’m getting my skills and knowledge challenged regularly.

So what about a cultural exchange? I honestly believe I’ve seen more cows these three past months than all my soon 26 years accumulated – and maybe animals in general. Probably it’s not a cultural concern; I just had to get it out of my system. Anyway, there are certain differences from the culture I am used to, and there are pros and cons: for example, I have not gotten (and probably will not get) used to the traffic down here. For me, it’s a true chaos. A lack of discipline maybe, or simply not respecting traffic rules? I don’t know, not important, just different. And also that personal spheres are foreign words here. At the other side, if you get a strong enough bond to an Indian, he/she is extremely helpful. In general, Indians are very including and hospitable people, which is something I really appreciate; something we can learn from back home maybe? Also, I have even purchased a “kurta” (a regional piece of clothing)and participated in some festival activities. At least I look a little more Indian that way. Looking different is a strange experience nonetheless; it takes time getting used to people staring (even though I’m not green) and, especially at tourist spots, that people want to take selfies with you, just as another attraction. But I guess it’s a little funny too. What’s not that funny, to be honest, is the food and hence one’s digestion. Why does it have to be that spicy? And everyone single one of the other interns have experienced the same.But you get toughened by it I guess. I just hope that, when I go back, I’ll still be able to taste some food – that my tongue isn’t killed, and that going back to my regular diet will not be affected by me literally being a vegetarian for half a year.

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A little bit back to AIESEC (the reason why I am writing this) and my professional experience: what still made me confident I didn’t do anything I really didn’t want to, was my past AIESEC experiences – this is, in fact, my third one: My first experience was a volunteer project in Uganda (the summer of 2015), followed by one year as a team member in the local chapter of AIESEC at my University, and now this professional internship. And AIESEC gives youth opportunities to grow and learn, without a performance-based approach, as it can take the time to evolve and some tries to get things right. In fact, I learn things all the time. So, even though not all the things I am doing in this internship feels that relevant for my future career, there are so many unmeasurable, intangible (soft) skills, values, and knowledge that I’ll take with me wherever I end up in addition to, more importantly, new good friends.  I may be a few scorched taste buds poorer, but I am a lot of experiences richer. And all of this on the expense of stepping out of my comfort zone. Is it worth it? Right – this Shrek doesn’t answer rhetorical questions.

Do you want to Work abroad like me and grab a life changing chance? Apply here.

Joakim I. Andersen, 2016.

Mitt opphold i Indonesia

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Mitt navn er Kristin Heen Halvorsen og jeg dro på utveksling med AIESEC. Å reise til Indonesia for å jobbe frivillig er det mest fantastiske eventyret jeg har vært med på. Jeg var lenge i tvil om jeg faktisk skulle tørre å dra – alene, til en fremmed kultur på andre siden av jorden. Takk og lov for at jeg dro!

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Jeg skulle arbeide sammen med 20 utenlandske frivillige med omtrent like mange nasjonaliteter. Også lokale frivillige var involvert, så potensialet til å lære om mange kulturer var stort. Sammen skulle vi jobbe for å øke turismen til byen Semarang, en millionby i Sentral-Java. Å få arbeide med de lokale frivillige var desidert en av prosjektets viktigste styrker. Å ha noen som snakket språket og var kjent med lokal bedriftskultur og skikker gjorde at vårt bidrag i arbeidet ble av best mulig kvalitet. I 7 uker jobbet vi hardt, og vi klarte å skape noe av verdi.

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Jeg fikk leve og bo sammen med lokale, en erfaring som ga meg utrolig mye positivt og lærte meg vanvittig mye. De utfordret meg på mine vaner og tankesett, samtidig som jeg utfordret dem på sider ved deres kultur som absolutt kunne forbedres. Vi hadde mange gode samtaler som fikk dem til å reflektere over blant annet kvinnens rolle i samfunnet. Til gjengjeld lærte de meg mye verdifullt om respekt og sosialt ansvar. Indonesere er virkelig ett av verdens mest vennlige folkeslag, og jeg er nå så privilegert at jeg kan kalle dem mine venner.
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Under mitt opphold besteg jeg fjelltopper, så majestetiske soloppganger og red på hest gjennom en kjede gamle tempelruiner. Jeg har vært med på en storslagen forlovelsesfest og flere festivaler, og jeg har snorklet med djevelrokke og dykket med hai. Jeg har løpt fra komodovaraner og møtt på bøfler mens jeg var ute på tur i jungelen (alene). Dette eventyret har lært meg utrolig mye verdifullt om hvem jeg er og hva jeg er god på. Samtidig har jeg lært hva som er viktig for meg og hva jeg vil bruke livet mitt på.

Så hva venter du på? Grip sjansen og skap ditt eget eventyr.

 

Volunteering abroad and its contributions to personal growth

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By: Anteneh Tesfaye

Arriving in another country, meeting a new culture, and finding yourself as you serve others, this is all part of the volunteering abroad experience. Making a heart connection with the needs of others and being able to fill those needs is both gratifying and exhilarating. It is truly a life changing experience.
The benefits of volunteering abroad are sometimes inexpressible. Of course it feels good to be valued, and as a volunteer you can contribute using your unique skills, get new experience, and perspective. But the benefit of Volunteering is also great for your personal growth. It rewards you with more than what you have given. We separated a few benefits for your personal growth that you can get from volunteering.

1- Self-confidence
Young people can benefit from volunteering abroad in terms of enhanced confidence and self-esteem through skills development. Volunteering is very rewarding and it makes you to feel confident of what you are doing since people always appreciate it your deeds and even encourage you to do more. All this lift your mood and helps you to be more confident.

2- Gain a new perspective of the world
Going abroad for volunteering will expose you to completely different environment than what you used to. It will show you how life can be different. Seeing this other side of life will help you to be a person with well rounded perspective of the world.

3- Happiness

“The highest of distinctions is service to others.”—King George IV.
Volunteering abroad will give you a chance to help and impact others. It feels good to make a positive change in someone else’s life. The time you will be spending with fellow volunteers, AIESECers and the beneficiaries creates bonds. The social bonds created during volunteering contribute directly to feelings of belonging and makes you happier not to forget the long life friendship you will gain.


4- Social skills

Whether you are an outgoing or shy person you will get to develop your communication, and social skills by meeting and communicating with different people from the country where you are at, or from different parts of the world who are working with you.

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5- Reduces Depression
Volunteering also helps to reduce depression, improve your mental health and help you live longer too. According to  an Every day health article, volunteering is also good because makes you do an activity, build social connections, and it also makes you feel good.

6- Sense of purpose
By volunteering abroad you will help others and make a difference on something, and someone other than yourself. It gives you something meaningful to do, and it is empowering to be doing something that really matters.


7- Health

Surprisingly volunteering also has a health benefits. “There’s a growing body of research showing that volunteering is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes,” says Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. A study he co-authored, published in Social Science and Medicine earlier this year, found that volunteers were more likely to use preventive health care services. For instance, people who volunteered were 47% more likely to get cholesterol checks and 30% more likely to get flu shots than those who did not volunteer. An annual flu shot appears to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by about one-third over the following year.

AIESEC provides thousands of opportunities to volunteers abroad for young people. Volunteer abroad and live the most amazing 6 weeks of your life.

AIESECers’ Stories #1

By: Kine Torp Ellingsen

My name is Vyni Nguyen and I study Culture and Communications at the University of Oslo. From a young age I knew I wanted to help people and work with society issues to improve the world. Half a year into university I remember talking with my sister on the phone and she said that AIESEC would be a good fit for me. She told me that AIESEC was about developing ourselves both personally and professionally and that it was a good place to meet new people. It took some time before I came around, but when I saw the video “Why we do what we do“, and I was sold.
I started in the Organizational Comitte (OC) having the role of arranging the parties and dinners for the conference that my team was responsible of facilitating. After the conference I became the Vice President of incoming Global Community Development Programme (iGCDP). Our project was to make a summer camp for children from a lower socio-economic background, especially children in asylum, with the aim of developing the children’s communication skills, English skills, teamwork skills, self-esteem and pro-active attitude so that they would better be able to have cultural understanding, because developing cultural understanding was what the project was about.The summer camp was also an opportunity to give the children who could not afford it a worthy summer vacation.
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The year later we wanted to improve the quality of the camp by focusing on being more present for the Exchange Participants who ran the camp in terms of following up on their leadership and management development. When I started, I really didn’t know what it meant to be a leader, but being a leader is basically just having a goal and finding the most effective way to reach that goal. I have learned that it is crucial to build a foundation and get on the same page in terms of finding a common vision to work towards and create goals that make you able to reach the vision when you reach these goals.This empowering culture we have in AIESEC has made me see myself in a new perspective.
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Being a Vice President has been the most challenging and best experience of my life. I can definitely say that I got what I came for in terms of establishing deep friendships, developing myself both professionally and personally. I also got great insight in how the society and how the business world works.
In my perspective, AIESEC has been the best platform for me to challenge and develop myself. You get to practice theory, realize your ideas and really learn by doing. I am grateful for being able to experience all the things I have experienced and meeting all the people I have met. My journey wouldn’t be the same. Although I am doing a semester abroad right now, I will still be a part of AIESEC,that is in AIESEC in Madrid.

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Would you like to have an impactful experience like Vy? Get to know more about AIESEC, and how you can become a member in your city, or university by clicking here.