At the end of my exams in April, I embarked on a 2 month long travelling adventure. At the start of May, I road tripped with some friends to Calgary and attended AIESEC Canada‘s National Leadership Development Conference, which was a 5 day conference that brought together around 300 youths from all around Canada to develop their passion and leadership capacities. Not only was it amazing to develop myself professionally by learning new techniques from successful people to better myself at what I do, but I also got to develop myself personally, gaining invaluable skills and insight on becoming a better leader and self discovery. Most importantly though, I found myself being able to interact with other like-minded youths from coast to coast with similar values and passions. All in all, it was an amazing five days. I left with a heavy heart, already missing all the new friends I’ve made from across Canada, but also a renewed energy to start my own adventures.

Student leaders brainstorming ideas at NLDC 2013.

Within a day of returning back to Vancouver, I had a flight to Wrocław, Poland. I had applied for the Global Community Development Programme (GCDP), an international volunteer opportunity within AIESEC, a little over a month ago. With over 113 different countries to choose from, you’re probably thinking, of all the places to go, why Poland? Well, let me start off by saying that for me, the main reason for a GCDP was to go to a completely different country, experience their culture, and make an impact upon those that I meet and interact with. For me, eastern and central Europe was a completely new territory for me, and I wanted to just take a risk and take on a six week volunteer internship in Poland.

A shot of the market square in Wroclaw, Poland.

My volunteer internship was at a kindergarten called Academia Pippi, which was a bilingual kindergarten for children aged 2-5. My responsibilities included speaking English to the children, spreading Canadian culture through activities and presentations, as well as hoping to influence them to become more open to other cultures. Needless to say, the entire internship was a rewarding experience as I could actively see the children’s improvement in English throughout my stay.

Polish children trying some pancakes with Canadian maple syrup.
Polish children trying some pancakes with Canadian maple syrup.

Throughout my internship, I also had some extra time to travel around a bit and I managed to go to different cities around Europe. They included Krakow and Warsaw in Poland, Berlin and Frankfurt in Germany, as well as Prague in Czech Republic. Being able to meet like-minded individuals with similar passions from around the globe and to travel through eastern and central Europe with them was one of the most incredible experiences ever. The memories shared will never be forgotten, and I know that despite the distances shared as we all come from different countries, we would remain good friends even after the end of our stay in Poland.

New best friends Kimberly from Singapore, Nikita from India, and me in Warsaw, Poland.
New best friends Kimberly from Singapore, Nikita from India, and me in Warsaw, Poland.

At the end of my 2 months away from home, I finally boarded my last plane to return to Vancouver. The children I met during my internship managed to touch my heart and all the great new friends that I made showed me that friendship transcends all barriers, whether it be ethnicity, nationality, language, or age. It was certainly a life changing two months. At the end of it all, I can definitely say I came out a bit more independent, with a better understanding of what it means to be a global citizen, as well as with a better international perspective. Of course, I also couldn’t be more appreciative of my parents now. Two whole months without my mom’s awesome home-cooked Chinese meals…the horror!

Unexpectedly meeting an old friend Esther in Frankfurt, Germany on one of my last days in Europe.

By Jessica Ngan, Talent Management

Cross-posted with permission from http://eatenmakeup.wordpress.com/

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