On May 18, I arrived in Prague, the Czech Republic, for my AIESEC developmental internship with Project EDISON. My six-week internship consisted of making informative and interactive presentations about Canada, such as the culture, geography, history, political, and economical situations. If anyone thought teaching was easy, well, they were wrong. Working from Monday to Friday, giving five 45-minute presentations back-to-back to a class of primary or secondary school students whose first language is not English was tough work.
It was not merely about showing a video clip of the national anthem or showing a slideshow of picturesque landmarks, it was about making connections with the students and getting them to broaden their mindset, to see things from a new perspective, that the world is much bigger than they thought and that there are numerous opportunities out there for them to discover.
Whenever I saw the Czech students making an effort to speak English with me and sharing their goals about studying abroad or even doing an AIESEC internship in another country, I could not help but smile. These young people were discovering their potential, and that is exactly what AIESEC is all about.
Before I left for my developmental internship, people always gave me a quizzical look whenever I replied that I was heading to the Czech Republic. “That’s so random, why would you go there?” they would ask. My response was always, “Why not?”.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would live in the Czech Republic, and this internship was an opportunity for me to challenge myself, to do things I had never done before, and go outside of my comfort zone. By immersing myself in a new culture, language, and traditions of a country which I had never been to before, I have become much more independent, confident, and assertive. In addition to that, I also made long-lasting friendships with people from all over the world.
When I first arrived in the Czech Republic, I had absolute zero knowledge of the Czech language, cultures, and traditions. However, by the end of my internship, I would be greeting locals with dobrý den, eating local smažák a hranolky, and looking people in the eye as we say cheers to na zdraví. I would be calling the Czech Republic my home.
AIESEC is more than a name, a service, or an organization. AIESEC is an experience – a powerful, rewarding, and influential impact which has definitely changed my life.
Ahoj, Julča (my Czech nickname)