Being a newbie in AIESEC having joined in January this year, Coastal Conference 2014 hosted by Kwantlan Polytechnic University was my first big AIESEC experience. As it was a conference geared towards introducing newbies like myself to AIESEC, I was expecting to learn all about the basics of AIESEC: its structure, the many, many acronyms, its programs, and the exchange process. However, what I ended up taking away from the conference was much, much more.
When I entered the conference room, the atmosphere was full of spirit and excitement. Each local committee (LC) from SFU, Kwantlan, Victoria, and Seattle was being introduced and I was immediately infected with the enthusiasm of my peers. Amazingly, this energy lasted through the entire weekend and was continuously pumped up by roll calls, famous AIESEC dances at every break, and the Fun Team who dealt out punishments and gossip. Throughout every activity, whether it be sessions, discussions in ‘home’ groups, portfolio-focused exercises, or even the intense simulation, the energy never disappeared and instead contributed immensely to my experience at Coastal.
As the energy persisted, it transformed throughout the weekend from one of pure excitement, to one of purpose as well. Though we were unaware of the impact this weekend would have on us as AIESECers, this would be the beginning of our AIESEC story. For both experienced members and newbies like me, this was where we all began to think of our time in AIESEC as a journey. One of the most impactful realizations made at Coastal was the importance of an AIESEC Why. Though a seemingly simple concept, many of us shockingly realized that we lacked a Why. We lacked a reason for being in AIESEC and for why we were doing what we were doing. As the Chair of the conference explained, having a Why was essential as it is the driving force behind everything we do in AIESEC, both personally and collectively. Encouraged to reflect on our own personal Whys and what we wanted to accomplish in AIESEC, we collaborated our ideas in our individual ‘home’ groups. The Local Committee Presidents (LCPs) later combined all these ideas to create one unified Coastal Why: We Do. We Share. We Inspire. This Why reflects what we, as a whole, learned from the conference and will act as the Why for ‘right now’ for those who have yet to find their own, like myself.
We Do. We Share. We Inspire. This is a Why that I believe in as I saw it in action at the conference. Experienced members who had already actively participated in AIESEC programs (Do) opened up to others about their stories and experiences (Share) and as a result, sparked motivation and purpose in other AIESECers (Inspire). What I will always remember about Coastal Conference 2014 is the energy and passion that was shared among the delegates, and the motivation and purpose I left the weekend with. This is where my story began and by sharing it here I hope to encourage others to start thinking about their story.
By Alison Suen, Marketing and Communications