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AIESEC UBC

Karen Wong: “I have a second home in Italy.”

  

During my first year of university, I have decided to explore my options and to try something new! 
  The reason why I applied for the volunteer program within AIESEC was because I wanted to experience a completely different culture and step outside of my comfort zone doing something I’ve never done before. 

After searching for a program that was suitable for me, I ended up spending six weeks in Turin, Italy living the experience of a lifetime! 
  I have never been to Europe before and it was definitely a new experience for me! My volunteer internship was at an NGO called Mirafiori, which they provided affordable housing for international students. 

 My responsibilities included making promotional material and fundraising for them.
 The entire internship provided me opportunities to learn and grow and when I was able to see my final product, it was extremely rewarding. My exchange to Italy has been one of the most life-changing moments in AIESEC. A specific moment that stood out to me was when I first met my host family. The family greeted me with such warmth and comfort that even though I was away from home, I immediately felt a sense of belonging.

  

Through all the hardships in my internship my host family has always been there for me. With the love and care that they provided me, I can genuinely say that I have a second home in Italy

   

Vicky Huang: “Best Decision I’ve Ever Made.”

“Best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

Kimberly looked ahead with a sparkle in her eyes. I was not sure if she was talking to me or herself. The weight of her words lingered in the air. This was the moment when I decided that I, too, would join AIESEC.

Four months ago in September 2015, I crossed this wish off my bucket list. So far, my AIESEC journey has been exhilarating, fruitful and eye-opening.

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AIESEC was my first encounter with B2B sales. I used to work in a tea house and had experience selling tea bags. At AIESEC, we are selling talents, experiences and values, and they are much larger, riskier investments than tea bags. Therefore, I treat AIESEC work almost with a sense of reverence. Do not get me wrong, I do think that selling tea bags is exciting and that contributing to the happy start of someone else’s day with a cup of caffeinated beverage is worthwhile. However, communicating values of youth empowerment and international perspective with companies, knowing that I am playing a part in creating overseas internship opportunities for human beings from the other end of the globe, appeals to me more at this stage. It thrills me to think that I may be able to inspire interest and action in decision makers whose yea or nay can have direct influence over an organization and potentially a future leader’s life.

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AIESEC gave me the privilege and courage to reach out to industry professionals. It gave me a legitimate excuse to ask them out for coffee without having to worry that I have little to offer – because I can always talk about the values that AIESEC can provide their companies. I once met up with a journalist to ask for advice on entering the news industry – and, of course, to analyze the benefits that AIESEC can add to her newspaper agency. It turned out that her agency was unable to partner up with AIESEC, but the kind lady graciously offered to cover a story for us on their news feature. The moral of this story is that sometimes you think that you are setting out for one gain, but in the end, two wins find their way to you if you establish a good rapport with your clients. And I should also mention that the number of wins does not stop there if you turn the relationship long-term: The lady forwarded me two internal job postings later on.

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AIESEC helped me bridge connection with strangers in the street, literally. On Boxing Day, my AIESEC team went on a social outing to Metrotown. While waiting in line for the fitting room, we started chatting about AIESEC business, using AIESEC jargons. The lady in front of us turned around and revealed to us that she was an AIESEC alumna. Just as we were awestruck by the coincidence, she dropped the second bomb and said that her husband was also an AIESECer. We followed her gaze and saw a man standing next to a pile of sweaters smiling at us. This chance encounter blossomed into two subsequent meetings, during which the couple generously shared with us their insights and stories about AIESEC, work, and life. I would never have got to know them nor listened to their intriguing stories had I not been a part of AIESEC.

“Best decision I’ve ever made,” I said to myself.

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Thank you, Kimby, for introducing me to this dazzling world full of magic and opportunities.

(Continued) Rose Aunaetitrakul: “Who lives sees, but who travels sees more.”

As an international student myself studying at UBC, I believe that a huge part of traveling/going on an exchange is learning more about yourself and the world. This is because you are putting yourself in a completely new environment with new people. Everyone’s experience of the internship will be different, and so my experience is only one of the experiences that you may also discover for yourself if you do plan on going to an exchange with AIESEC.
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The number one thing that I’ve learned in the AIESEC exchange is to always be hungry for adventure. There is always something new to learn and see. I’ll be honest that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like change too much (even though I have moved a lot throughout my life). But after this exchange, I am becoming more adventurous and willing to try new things than before. You know that saying of “when one door closes, another door will always open”? Any new doors that open for me now, I’m no longer afraid to go through it anymore because who knows what will happen? That new door will most likely lead me to better things, and I don’t want to keep on letting opportunities to pass by me. Even if things don’t turn out right, I know that I will learn something from it and that most importantly, I’ve tried. No more “what ifs”.

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While I was volunteering in the city in the Philippines, I and other EP interns took the opportunity of the weekends to go on trips to explore other places in the Philippines. Since we went on a trip almost every single weekend, I felt myself being able to adapt more to the lifestyle in the Philippines. I also felt more comfortable going to new places and trying new things. If I don’t do it now, when will I ever do it? The new things that I’ve tried and places that I went to were: swimming under the waterfalls, snorkeling/island hoping in El Nido, Palawan, exploring a cave, and hiking on the rice fields in Banaue. I had a lot of fun going on all of the trips with other EPs whom I was able to quickly form relationships with. I learned a lot about where they come from and we all created as many memories as we can since we all don’t know when we would see each other again.

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Of course, I would not be able to see much if I didn’t have some sort of stable finance first before I went. Since we’re on the topic of traveling, most of you are probably concerned with the finance side of going on exchange. Keep in mind that this is a student-run organization and all of the expenses (accommodation, food, traveling, etc) will be coming out of your pocket. So I strongly advise you to do research on your own first or ask how much the living expenses are wherever you plan to go. If your finances are a bit of a problem (as it was for me) I have two solutions for you! Either one, talk to your parents about it or two, you can work at a part-time job and save up before you go. For me, I worked a lot at my part-time job during the school year and the first two months of summer to help cover my expenses in the Philippines. I didn’t spend a huge amount in the Philippines of course. I learned to budget and took the time to research with other EPs on the expenses of the trips. Trust me, other EPs are also trying to save money as well so you are definitely not alone on that.

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I will also advise you to really be as open minded as you can and really get to know other EPs! You will be living with most of them and will also be hanging out with them going to touristy places or just even hanging out during work days. I guarantee you will learn a lot from them as you guys are from different parts of the world. The time frame is really short so make the most of spending time getting to know the AIESECers, the locals there, and also the EPs. They all are in my opinion, the ones who will make your exchange experience more worthwhile and also make it easy for you to weave into the new culture/country you are in.

 

Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

 

Yours Truly,

Rose Aunaetitrakul

Rose Aunaetitrakul: “Who lives sees, but who travels sees more.”

Introduction
Hi there! My name is Rose, and I am currently going into my 4th year studying Psychology in UBC. This summer, I went on a 6-week exchange to the Philippines with AIESEC University of Philippines, Diliman. The reason that I decided to go on a 6-week exchange was because I wanted to do something different this summer. Personally, I know that when I travel I would learn a lot more about the world and myself. I was ready to go out again and explore something new. I chose the Philippines mainly because I found the projects that they had were interesting. I have so much to say about my exchange but I will summarize as much as I can.

The Internship

The project that I volunteered in is called Kickstart. Basically what Kickstart is about is we volunteer at different NGOs to get expose to the social issues in the Philippines and also to teach social entrepreneurship to the NGOs as well. The three NGOs that I volunteered in are

  • Jeremiah: A housing shelter for young girls who are victims of battery and sexual abuse. I had a lot of fun interacting with the girls here. We mainly played games to help them learn English and also help out with their homework if they needed it. The girls are so sweet and are so creative! They also taught me how to make these really cute sandal key chains.

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  • Grace to Be Born: A maternity and nursery home for pregnant women (most who are victims of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse) of all ages. They are cared for until they give birth. I taught the mothers about my Thai language and culture as they were interested in learning about my nationality. And the mothers in return, taught me Tagalog words.

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  • Healing Servants Foundation INC: We volunteered at a school called the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon where they educate children who come from families of very low incomes. I had a lot of fun teaching the students and interacting with them as well. I taught grade 5 students how to cup beat and I taught grade 7 Thai language. As for grade 9 and 10. I taught them about my Psychology major and also a dance routine! The students in return taught me some words in Bicol (another Filipino dialect).

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Meeting other EPs

Personally, my favorite part about the 6-week exchange was meeting all the other Exchange Participants! We were housed together and lived together. In just 6 weeks, I was able to meet a lot of new people and also made close connections with them as well. I went on a trip to the Philippines every single weekend when I did not work. I was able to see the beautiful side of the Philippines – ranging from seeing volcanoes, swimming in the beaches, to hiking on mountains and rice fields. There were many memories that were formed in just 6 weeks with all the other interns that I won’t ever forget.

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Culture

In just 6 weeks, I really did adjust living in the Philippines. I knew how to get myself to places using the local transportations of Jeepneys, tricycles, the train systems of MRT and LRT. I also picked up a few words in Tagalog as well that was useful mostly in transportations. But from interacting with the locals here, I’ve learned how happy Filipinos always are even though they do experience a lot of natural disasters. People here are always helping each other and are always are so happy in every kind of situations.

Conclusion

Overall, I would say that I had an amazing time in the Philippines. Since it is a volunteering work experience – don’t expect too much and know that things are always changing. Always be open minded and get yourself out there to meet and get to know as many people as you can because you can learn a lot from the locals and also from all the interns that you will be meeting from that are coming from all over the world. It is one of the summers that I will forever cherish and will never forget.

Christian Chan: Stories Worth Sharing

There is power in creating lasting memories. I went to Vietnam in the summer of 2014 expecting to plan, host and facilitate conferences and workshops, but I ended up gaining an education on what life really meant. A lot of my friends right now are confused about they want to do or haven’t really thought about what they like and are good at. When i went on exchange with AIESEC I was able to take the time to get lost, be scared and STEP OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. The later was mentioned on my whole way in the process of matching to the internship but I never knew what it meant. What it means is to take a chance on people, on circumstances and on yourself. I admit there were times I was worried and confused, but those are the situations I now cherish because I was able to learn so much from that. I always thought creating an impact was a cliche for these type of volunteer positions, but I was dead wrong. A month into the position I was approached by my delegates saying things like: you inspired me, you taught me something I would never forget, you changed my life and you are my goal for the future. Honestly, that was the point where I didn’t see the need to get compensated. The chance to change someone’s life does not come very often and this internship allowed me to do just that. I was able to change 50 people lives. Although it may not have completely, as a first year I can say that my summer was used to adding value to other, but exponentially changing my life. 

The magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone. Do it.

Tom Chang: My Life in Karachi. (Part II)

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I wanted a challenge and I had it. It taught me that difficulties and easiness are only two sides of the same coin. 
                                              --Tom Chang

My name is Tom Chang. I am a third year Biology and Nutrition student from UBC taking my first trip to a foreign country by myself. I chose to go to Pakistan because I wanted a challenge. However, I realized that the challenge soon ended after I landed or there was never a kind of challenge that I had in mind because there was no terrorist, or bombs. “Now what?” I thought to myself. What Sam, my Exchange Participant Manager in AIESEC UBC, had engrained into my mind before and during my trip was that, “it is what you make of it.”

There were more challenges ahead of me. For example, hunger, no water, no electricity, dirty apartment, or not knowing what to do if I lost my internship. I think that is the ultimate lesson I learned throughout my internship because there is nothing you can do when you are in a dire situation but only to change your interpretation of the it. Two weeks I spent my time alone in the apartment not having WiFi and without doing any internship. I was quite lost at first but I finally remembered what Sam had said to me that “it is what you make of it.” Therefore, instead of fretting over my loss of internship, I read the books I brought, watched movies I downloaded, and went to nearby cafés at night to use their WiFi and download more stuff. It dawned on me that although I cannot control the situation but I can control my thoughts.

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The other lesson I learned was appreciation. During Ramadan, I have seen the both real poverty and richness co-existing together. Rich people would live in their AC-installed villas connected to an independent generator while the poor lay on the ground right outside the streets without shelter or light. It was even more staggering when I just see how many poor people there are when restaurants and mosques offer free food. Just before the offering people would sit on the pre-laid rugs and just wait. Through these poor people’s eyes I can see that begging is the only way left for them. It made me realized just how privileged and how lucky I am able to live in North America. How grateful I should be that I still have the ability to choose my future. How everything is already set up for me waiting for me to just reach out. On the other hand, these people do not have any other choice but to wait for leftovers.

During my internship I encountered a lot of different situations and people but knowing that it is what I make of it and there’s always someone who’s less fortunate than me, I had a much better experience by not thinking everything is against me and made more friends by being appreciative of what they’ve done for me. I think people in the developed countries often stayed in their bubbles and are unaware of what’s outside of their little world. I know this because I was one of those people before this internship. Now that I’ve seen what’s out there in the world and had a taste of what the world has to offer, I can’t wait for my next trip!

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Tom Chang: My Life in Karachi. (Part I)

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So what do you think about Pakistan?
       - Tom Chang, third year student at UBC

My name is Tom Chang. I am a third year Biology major and Nutrition minor student from UBC taking his first trip to a foreign country by himself. I have to say I was surprised when I first arrived in Karachi, I did not encounter any terrorist attacks and I did not have to hide from gun fires. I’m joking just so you know but people do ask these things before and after my trip. Of course there are still a lot of political instability with their government there but if Karachi is as scary as it sounded why would there still be nine million people living in the city? Everyone would have left by now. So with the challenge in mind to debunk the stigmatism against the country. I set out to have one of the best and unforgettable experience of my life. I did so many things I would have never imagined myself to do: crashed a wedding, rode on the top of the bus, rode a camel, roam a foreign city at night in a taxi without knowing the language, admitted myself to a foreign hospital, got three days of diarrhea, and lost weight; however, it was exactly these experiences that shaped who I am now, and I would not trade anything for them.

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The real challenge wasn’t hiding from attacks but enduring hunger. I did not even know what Ramadan was before I decided to go to Pakistan. Basically, during this time period one will refrain from smoking, eating and drinking from dawn to dusk to experience what it is like to live in poverty. Since Pakistan is an Islamic country, all the restaurants would be close during the day to uphold the principles. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me was that the restaurants do offer deliveries and there was even an app for that. For the first week or so, my brunch consisted of soy milk with cereal.

Not only that, the city also regularly shut down electricity to conserve power; therefore, we sometimes have to sleep in our own sweat in 35 degree Celsius or above. To make matter worse, our apartment ran out of running water. So for five days, we took showers and flush our toilets by scooping water from the water we burrowed from our neighbor and the Aiesecers.

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There was more though, I was told beforehand that it is very normal to get the diarrhea as it happens to 90% of all interns. I was also told that it usually lasts from two days up to a week! Sure enough, after a week of my stay there, while still trying to adjust to my new life in Karachi, I got my ceremonial diarrhea. Thankfully, mine only lasted for three days.

I did not yet mentioned that two days before my departure, my internship was cancelled because the staff who is supposed to be my translator at the NGO I was supposed to work at backed out. While the Aiesecers were working hard to negotiate with the new NGO, I sat at home most of the time by myself as the other intern was out for work. Stupidly, I forgot to unlock my phone plus the intern apartment’s wifi barely worked. So the first two weeks of my stay was quite chaotic!! Until the highlight of my trip finally came. I unknowingly ingested marijuana. Out of paranoia, I admitted myself to a hospital without telling the Aiesecers. Everyone was searching for me while I lay in the hospital. That was a really crazy adventure to tell but a long story to be told another time.

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To be honest, most of these things are out of the ordinary, it just so happens that everything happened at the same time in the beginning of my stay. My point is, this could happen anywhere to anyone but the lesson to be learned is that no matter how dire the situation, only you can change the situation by how you think.

Fortunately, after Ramadan everything went on a turning point as more interns came, we got a brand new intern apartment, and I finally got my internship volunteering at Karachi Vocational Training Centre. KVTC is an NGO which strives to change the stigmatism against mentally challenged people by providing vocational trainings to its students so that after graduation, they will be able to provide for themselves and become valuable contributors to the society. My role at KVTC was to help improve their hostel’s weekly meal plan and gave a presentation on mental-disability-related nutrition to the staff and teachers of the school. I was fortunately enough to apply what I learned in school as I know not a lot of interns get this chance. It greatly reaffirmed my decision to pursue a career in health and nutrition. I am really grateful for the Aiesecers for finding me such a suitable internship.

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Although out of Ramadan I lost four kilograms but I gained so much more. I made friends from all over the world like Columbia, China, Turkey, Slovenia, Hongkong, Germany, Malaysia and last but not least Pakistan. No matter how messed up my living conditions were, how I arrived without an internship, how hungry I was during Ramadan or how marijuana gave me the worst paranoia, the humorous and heartfelt moments spent with AIESECers and our fellow interns kept me going and kept me. The challenges that we went through together strengthened our bond. In the end, I gained life-long friends whom I can called family.

In conclusion, without this internship, I wouldn’t be able to see the real side of Pakistan, compared to the biased image created by the overseas media; I wouldn’t be able to work with the hardworking people of KVTC or meet the wonderful people of AIESEC in Karachi; and, last but not least, I wouldn’t get to meet with the best people from all over the world in our new and cute little intern apartment. I had a blast and will definitely cherish this internship for the rest of my life. So, if you ask me “What do you think about Pakistan?” My answer to the question would be “I would definitely visit it again!”

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