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‘’What are the stories you haven’t yet lived to tell?’’

That question was written on a wall in one of the busiest streets of Athens that I used to walk to reach my university. I saw it one morning almost five years ago, and it really bothered my train of thought.

I had just entered university, after trying very hard with my school exams, and I was supposed to spend the next five years focusing on my studies, taking my degree and finding a job, like any respectable student in Greece should do.  

One day though, two girls entered the classroom promoting a youth organization called AIESEC and specifically they invited us to participate in their Global Volunteer program this semester, and go work abroad on social projects for 6 weeks.

The question I told you earlier popped in my mind and immediately they had my attention. My friend Stefanos and I, went afterwards in their office, we got the basic info, and just like that, one month from that day, we were in Serbia, working on social business projects and career orientation for students that had just finished university there.

We spent almost two months in a foreign country, living alone at 19, discovering independency, new people, new cultures and most importantly, ourselves, while contributing to a better cause and supporting students in Serbia to go after their dreams and start their own business and career. Definitely a story worth being told, don’t you agree?

Coming back, I was curious about the organization, so I asked those two girls that had just given me the opportunity to live an amazing experience, what else I could do while I was back in Greece?

Well, not to take you now through the entire journey I had in AIESEC, but I started by being a team leader of a team that worked to create those kinds of social projects in Greece, and somehow ended up four years later as a team leader again. But this time, leading the national team of the entire organization in Greece. And in order to close the circle in AIESEC, after finishing that, I went abroad again, in a social project supporting refugee integration in Austria, where I am currently.

I am now 23, and I’ve spent the last five years not being an ordinary, and definitely not an average, student. I travelled the world (literally), created a huge network of people that somehow I know they will be there for me, put into practice what I learned in the university and learned more by doing, equipped myself with soft and hard skills and actively contributed in making the world a better place.

And you know what the best part of it was? I know who I am. I know what I value, what I am passionate about, what makes me get out of bed and work my butt off, what I believe in, and I’ve created a path of discovering what I want to do in my life.

So I will leave you with the same question that sparked thoughts and actions to me that day, only hoping it will do the same for you.

What are the stories you haven’t yet lived to tell?

By Renata Pylarinou