AIESEC Alive and Well at Otago Business School
AIESEC re-formed at Otago three years ago and now a strong group is working on exchanges and also leadership development for students from the business school as well as other parts of the University.
The exchanges are inbound as well as out bound and AIESEC has access to well trained students with valuable skills from around the world. Building the inbound exchanges (which can be up to 18 months) is part of their goal for this year.
Sylvia Ho is one of this year’s directors and over the summer spent eight weeks in Turkey. This is her reflection on the experience:
‘If you ever have a chance to go somewhere, where will it be?’
A lot of people have asked me the same question through out my University life. I always wanted to explore the northern side of the world but it seemed too far away to happen. As a third year BCom student not knowing exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated, I decided to do something random. Last summer, I took up the chance to go aboard with AIESEC.
Now you might be thinking that my exchange is probably just an ordinary experience like others – a chance to experience a different country. I chose Turkey. It was quite a rush decision; I only got my tickets two weeks before I went. But it turned out to be one of the best life decisions I have made.
People know the main cities of Turkey as Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir. My experience was completely different. I went to somewhere completely out of my expectations. My exchange coordinator gave me an eight-week internship opportunity in a city called Adana, Turkey’s fifth largest city located in the South. I tried to find out more about this city online but there was only limited information. So with no expectations, I began my journey by travelling 23 hours from Dunedin to Adana with my travel booklet.
Part of my job was to work closely with the AIESECers in Adana and also working with 10 other interns from different countries on a culture awareness project with high school students.
I had lots of mind-blowing experiences through those eight weeks. I really admire their well-driven and can-do attitude. The best part of my exchange was to meet many people, both from Turkey and around the world, to share our passion. For example, at dinner with all the interns, all you can hear is different languages going around the table, but each of us can still have a good time together.
They say: "Staying in Turkey for more than three days, you are part of the family". After these two months, all the AIESECers, friends and people I have met in Adana definitely became part of my family. I will always remember the good times we had and all the things I have learnt from them. This is something I could never get just by travelling as a tourist or reading from a book.
My exchange had helped me to shape my personality. Finding out who I am through being independent. Having more things to be embarrassed about through all the fun stories I have gain through my trip. Not only that, it also opened my mind a lot more and I understand the culture in more depth. I have learned how to be more aware of other cultures and respect all the similarities and differences.
‘Reading ten thousands of books is not as useful as travelling ten thousand miles.’