Why we do what we do

It has been 67 years since AIESEC was founded in 1948 during a trying time in Europe, with a mission to “expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals changing the world one person at a time.”

AIESEC was founded on a vision of friendship and unity – a vision of a unified Europe. This may sounds familiar. It is also the basis of the European Union, founded to make sure Europe would never again be torn apart by war and dispute. AIESEC was founded by students who were looking for a solution to the same problem. The goal was to ensure peace through mutual understanding of other cultures and countries.

The idea came in 1948, when students across Europe were talking about a program to facilitate a cross-cultural exchange as they were already carrying out internship abroad, if only mostly at their own initiative. However, with the tumults of World War II this exchange came to an abrupt halt. Shortly after the war, that had tarnished the relationship and trust of Europe’s countries, had ended, in a damaged and struggling Europe, AIESEC was founded.

Amongst the founding members where students from seven nations: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. In March of 1949 the first international conference was held to discuss the modus operandi and goal of AIESEC’s cause.

With programs such as Global Talent and Global Citizen (more on these to come – see our next posts) AIESEC is still sending individuals abroad to broaden their horizon and sharpen their understanding of different cultures. Every since the first year of existence, where 89 students were exchanged among the member nations this number has exponentially grown.

In 2014 the number of exchanges facilitated by AIESEC stands at 26.000! This number can only be delivered by the dedication and work of its 70.000 members in 126 countries. Today all around the world AIESEC members are working to achieve this one common goal; to make the world a better place though the exchange of individual minds, cultures and ideas.

Summer series:Adventure in Austria coming to an end – Part 4

With their adventure in Austria coming to an end, Ana, Yassine, Shu and Tereza have made some thoughts about their experience in Graz. With each day and week, they collected memories and little life lesson, which are important to all of us.
Each one of our volunteers had her own and unique experience. Depending on their background and on the different working atmosphere, they all got something to cherish from these 6 weeks in Graz. Shu was one of the volunteers who had a very special experience in Graz, partly being her first time in Europe and having to go through a rough change of background. Overcoming the cultural shock and communication problems, she started to get deeper into the Austrian traditions. Being it her first time working in a cafeteria and restaurant, Shu was happy to learn how to cook Austrian recipes. Moreover, having to work with disabled people, who had difficulties moving and communicating, she could learn more about herself and how to approach people with special needs. As always, for Shu, it is always important to smile!
Tereza on the other hand had to work with long-term unemployed young people, so she had another type of challenge to deal with. She explored four different projects and therefore got to know a lot about different social problems and how young people face them. What she points out is the importance of liking or at least not hating your job. Being motivated and trying to find motivation in your working life is of great importance. According to Tereza, the government should push young people to make an effort for their lives and not help them dwell in an unproductive routine. For our dear Ana, this has been an experience which will be hard to forget and is very grateful to her buddy Carla and all her working colleagues for the great summer spent together. She believes that everything happens for a reason!

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Yassine also had an important experience in Austria. He is happy to have learnt to rely more on himself and become more confident. Having to work with disabled people, he has become more patient and understanding. He could also learn how to cook simple recipes, which he will be happy to cook back at home, and most importantly, he overcame his indisposition to wash dishes, which now seems to be quite unproblematic to him. Another important fact was becoming more independent while living away from his parents and more responsible. He now wants to start drawing his own path in life.

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At the end of the six weeks, what matters the most is what our lovely volunteers will take with them and what made a difference in their lives. For Shu, this was the first time in another continent and she made the most out of it. She is grateful to have had the chance to be part of the program and thanks all her colleagues and partners.
For Tereza on the other hand, these six weeks were a very well spent time. She was always very motivated and eager to improve herself. According to her there are some points that might need improvement, such as the position of the volunteers in the company and the possibility to have more opportunities to make their own programs and have a stronger say in the program.
These six weeks have certainly given a lot to all of us. Both volunteers and us working closely with them have gained a lot and will not forget this experience we shared.

Author:Giannenta Milio