“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
Sometimes I wonder how AIESEC, started by a small group of students in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century, has now grown into the world’s largest student-run organization in such a small period of time. What’s more incredible is that the organization is not-for-profit, non-governmental, and fully based on volunteers. So what’s AIESEC’s secret to success? I think that AIESEC works like a magnet for all the passionate, spirited, and globally-minded students. We are attracted to AIESEC and AIESEC is attracted to us. Such a relationship produces a creative, open-minded, and vibrant community of young leaders that keeps the organization alive throughout generations and makes the world a better place through exchange opportunities. So how do you keep all of us AIESECers united and undefeated? The answer is…through conferences!
My name is Mikhail Geyne, and I joined the Alumni Relations portfolio of AIESEC University of British Columbia in October 2012. Even though it’s been only four months, I can see that the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had definitely had an impact on my life already.
Coastal Conference was my second conference that I attended. It consisted of the Local Committees of UBC, SFU, UVic, and KPU coming together for three intense days of AIESEC action, learning, and collaboration. I was really excited to get back into this intense conference lifestyle, reconnect with other delegates, get to know new members, learn more about the organization, and of course, dance! One of the things that made me really happy was seeing new members who joined the organization just a week before the conference being outgoing and active during presentations, functional tracks, and the simulation (which is the whole AIESEC year put into a two-hour session). Even though they probably didn’t know what to expect, they still showed a lot of enthusiasm and dedication. They had the “Eye of the Tiger” the whole time. I know how tough it is sometimes to get out of your comfort zone and face fears. New AIESECers showed that it doesn’t matter whether you are a newcomer or an old member; as long as you have the AIESEC spirit and are surrounded by the supportive team, anything is possible!
The Closing Plenary was the last session that summed up everything we had learned, felt, and experienced during the conference. I consider myself an emotional person, so Closing Plenary was a moving experience for me. The facilitators didn’t teach us any new skills, nor was there any technical knowledge involved in that session. Instead, everybody opened their hearts, shared a sense of togetherness, and shed lots of tears. It might appear that the ending was overly emotional and unnecessary, but I know that in ten, twenty, or perhaps thirty years from now, it will be the highlight of my AIESEC experience. The reason is that I had the opportunity to self-reflect—to think about why I do what I do, and envision AIESEC as a large part of my life. Also, during the Closing Plenary, I was feeling overwhelmingly different; I felt as if I was dissolving into the space of the room. It could have been from the lack of sleep due to the intensity of the conference; however, I believe it was also due to the fact that we were united in spirit, making us an undefeatable force. At the final part of the Closing Plenary, everyone stood up to thank each other for making a difference. This made me appreciate the positive energy that could be generated from a simple smile, a hand shake, or a hug. I tried to thank as many people as I could because I knew that by doing so, they would feel accomplished and appreciated. Knowing that a lot of them felt this way filled me with a sense of gratitude.
By Mikhail Geyne, Alumni Relations