Since joining AIESEC in June, one of the things I’ve been looking forward to is attending an AIESEC conference. Throughout the summer, students from other Local Committees (LC) or chapters in universities and colleges (AIESECers) have been telling me left and right that once I attend my first conference, I will come to understand why 50,000 students all around the world contribute their time and effort for this organization and how special it is to be part of a global community. After craning my neck for four months and a 16 hour bus ride later, I arrived in Calgary at the Western Regional Conference (WRC), and looking back, it is an experience I will never forget.
From the first minute that I stepped into this three-day conference, I was bombarded with AIESEC’s unique culture. Through various workshops and discussions, the many acronyms, phrases, philosophies, and values that I learned rang true to AIESEC’s goal to empower students to become leaders of the world. We had hands-on experience on how to operate an entire LC, learned useful communication tools, practiced our new-found skills and shared our ideas to improve AIESEC Canada. The stories of the success of experienced AIESECers and alumni has made me very proud to be part of an initiative with big goals with a talented member base.
Two things that were a constant throughout the weekend were the cheers and dances. Like the flash mobs you see on YouTube, once a certain song plays on the speakers, AIESECers instantly start dancing like their life depended on it and they know all the moves to over a dozen songs. Same with the cheers, whether they are LC specific or not, everyone knows everyone’s cheers and will readily show their LC’s spirit. The energy and enthusiasm was a big shock and I continually found myself dancing at any time of the day, whether we had just eaten or were exhausted, we danced through our food comas and were instantly energized and gradually lost our voices.
Perhaps what was most memorable from WRC was what happened on the very last day of the conference when I was on the bus ride back to Vancouver. Due to miscommunication, my luggage which included everything that I had brought to WRC wasn’t on the bus leaving Calgary for Vancouver. Panic-stricken when I found out, I instantly texted a friend from AIESEC SFU and he informed me that my luggage was still in Calgary and that he would bring it back on his flight later that day. I was extremely relieved that my luggage was in safe hands, but more importantly I was touched by the generosity of my fellow AIESECer. And that’s when I realized that AIESEC is truly a global community, one that supports one another like family, no questions asked. Wherever you are in the world, you will have a friend there and they will help with open arms.
Once an AIESECer, always an AIESECer.
By Eric Chow, Communications AIESEC UBC