How I joined AIESEC and why I stayed (a.k.a my last 2.5 years in AIESEC)

Hello, my Name is Johannes Schneeberger and I’m currently studying one of the most hipster studies, Environmental Management a.k.a Umwelt- und Bioressourcenmanagement, a.k.a UBRM, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences a.k.a BOKU. Okay, that was probably a lot of a.k.a’s for now.

If the first part is too boring for you, just skip it because it’s about the military. To answer the first questions – how I joined AIESEC – I want to congratulate and thank the Austrian Military. For those of you, who aren’t familiar with Austrian law, I’ll give you a little introduction why in the world the most central country in Europe, needs to rob six to nine months of every young man’s time, in which he could to something purposeful. All young men in Austria by law are obligated to either do six months of military service or nine months of social service. Well, I chose to be in the military, for the sake of starting one semester earlier with my studies.

So due to the fact that the official language in the Austrian military is not English, my level of English – which was already bad – got even worse during my time in the Bundesheer. Nevertheless, I have to be thankful, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been as appealed when in the first week, a random student started to pitch AIESEC in my lecture, since at that point AIESEC was the chance for me to finally get properly fluent in English. This, and the fact that I like an international atmosphere, made me join AIESEC and I wouldn’t regret this decision in a million years (though the initial reasons were pretty trivial and egoistic).

You would probably ask me now why I don’t regret my decision – or more precisely, why I stayed. Obviously, I didn’t stay because after two and a half years I still solely wanted to improve my English skills. There are thousands of reasons why I stayed, but let me point out the most relevant ones.

When I was back in school I hardly managed to find likeminded people who were eager enough to join my Interrail travels or to do extraordinary stuff. That fundamentally changed when I joined AIESEC. Throughout my journey I had the privilege to mostly work in the on-ground marketing area, doing info booths, promoting our cultural exchange programs on social media or pitching AIESEC in front of 200 students. Therefore, I had the chance to get out of my comfort zone, talking to random people and actually getting to know a lot of students on the campus.

Was it always easy? No, for sure it wasn’t, but I saw my development in public speaking, in doing sales or in simply figuring out a way to communicate effectively, so people would understand what I was trying to explain them. I would say I definitely got more self-aware about my strengths and weaknesses, and got constantly more solution oriented by seeing the thousands of opportunities, instead of focusing on the one obstacle.

So, I was in this Marketing area for one year and I enjoyed it a lot, but since AIESEC is about always challenging yourself and taking new opportunities, I did exactly that back in December 2014, when I applied to be the main responsible for the entire Local Committee at AIESEC at BOKU. It was a huge step for me, because I personally was not really sure if my previous achievements qualified me enough to be the leader of 20 young people. But then, the AIESEC spirit kicked in and I asked myself if I would regret it one year later if I hadn’t applied. Furthermore, those amazing people who worked with me, whom I can proudly call my second family, supported me immensely. So I went for it, and had the honour to lead AIESEC in BOKU for the past year with an amazing bunch of young, motivated and courageous people, who volunteered in order to make a better version of themselves and simultaneously making the world a better place.

Yeah, I know it sounds quite fluffy, but I think nowadays that’s exactly what is missing for many people. Having a vision for the world and acting up on it, no matter what. AIESEC is essentially a group of young people, who really believe that there could be peace in our world and therefore are fostering cultural exchange and developing young leaders, who lead with their heart and not with their greed, for profit or power.

While being the leader of AIESEC in BOKU I had the amazing opportunity to join conferences with more than 300 individuals, coming from more than 50 different countries all over the world. That;s cultural exchange, and it showed me once more the importance and necessity of AIESEC being a worldwide youth voice. All this made me realize how interconnected our world is and made me a world citizen, who doesn’t think in country borders but who finds the similarities between all those different cultures.

On top of all this, I had the chance to facilitate trainings and I needed to figure out how to make a lecture engaging, without having people fall asleep, since they had just slept three hours the night before. This was also a huge challenge for me, since I’d never done it before and in the beginning, I didn’t really believe that I could be a good trainer. A lot of effort and amazing people who supported me, proved me wrong and finally I can proudly say, that I’m able to empower and engage other people.

All these experiences are reason enough for me to invest the majority of my time into AIESEC, because at the end of the day I get so much more back!

How I developed someone who was 8000km away from me

Hello. I’m Mihai and I’m a Romanian student in Vienna. I study Economics and Social Sciences at Vienna University of Economics and Business. I like to think that I’m an open and energetic person who usually likes challenges and exploring other cultures.

However, it wasn’t until this volunteering experience that all these were put to the test.

When I left for Brazil, it was the first time I went abroad completely alone. Understandably, I started my experience with many reasons to be excited but equally many reasons to be anxious about what was going to happen.

Overall it turned out to be a marvelous experience. And it was not the visiting part that made it worth remembering for, but rather the challenges I faced and the inner journey I went through in those six weeks.

Trying to teach English and civic education to children coming from a tough environment without speaking the same language was definitely not easy, but it enabled me to identify my purpose, my passion and most importantly it gave me the opportunity to live up to my values. I had an impact and I developed someone who was more than 8000 km from home. For me, simply mindblowing!

Why do I think such a journey would be beneficial for everyone?

Because one will meet beautiful people and make friends. One will experience a vibrant culture as well as culture shocks and clashes and the amazing feeling of relevancy and importance.

All these things create the perfect mix that shapes who one is as a person.  They help one identify what he/she strives for and the values he/she wants to live. They help one find out who he/she wants to become by getting him/her out of their bubble.

In the end, giving back to other people will not only help them but will also impact you and make you develop further.