After being in AIESEC for two years and attending almost every conference, from being a general member to a team leader, I had been trying to live my AIESEC experience to the fullest. However, I always felt that something was missing. So I decided to try out the AIESEC product that I had always been selling and complete my AIESEC journey.
On June 28th 2013, I arrived in Tunis, Tunisia for the Global Community Development Program. My six-week internship consisted of helping local Red Cross with several humanitarian projects such as fundraising for the month of Ramadan, collecting food donation and distributing it to the underprivileged and visiting orphanages. These may sound like easy tasks, but they were actually quite challenging for me because I do not speak either French or Arabic. However, the whole point of the Global Community Development Program is to explore and experience a different culture, so I tried my best to pick up the languages as much as I could and incorporate them into my daily work. Tunisians are very nice and xenophilic. Even with my fragmented French and their limited English, I was able to carry on conversations and make meaningful connections with them.
Tunisia is a tiny but beautiful country perched on the north tip of Africa by the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Algeria to the west and Libya to the southeast. Before I left for my internship, people were always very confused and worried when I told them that I was going to Tunisia, in Africa. The reply I got the most was a sincere wish that I would come back safe and sound. Most people, including myself had no idea what Tunisia was like. We thought that all African countries are very poor and underdeveloped and most people live in slumps. By the moment I landed at the airport,
my impression of the country completely changed.
The highlight of my internship was definitely the study tour I went on with all other 40 interns. We visited a lot of amazing places in the country such as the Great Mosque of Kairouan, Sahara desert, Djerba island, the Amphitheatre of El jem etc. I rode a camel, tried paragliding, drove a quad bike, danced on a pirate ship and was thrown into the Mediterranean Sea. Besides the fun activities, it was the bonding moments with others that made the trip so memorable.
During the 6 weeks’ time in a completely new environment with different cultures, different languages and different religions, I had truly learned what it means to be open-minded. It provided me with the opportunity to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone to try things that I had never tried before. If it wasn’t for the internship, never would I ever choose to come to Africa; never would I ever live with 20 people in a 4 bedroom apartment without air-conditioning, ; never would I ever get to experience a foreign culture in such proximity that I am now deeply in love with; never would I ever get to meet so many awesome people from around the globe and build up lifelong friendships; never would I ever have a family in Tunisia who would always welcome me home.
By Allie Ye, Finance