The whole reason I even thought of choosing AIESEC for SWL this week is because an old college buddy, and fellow AIESECer is visiting with me this weekend. It's been forever since we saw each other but we've kept in contact over the years, much like a lot of members from -- as what we and other LCs lovingly called us -- the Indian LC.
See, it was originally formed just after WWII between France and Germany as a way to heal after all the devastation and death. The youth of that time wanted a way to find common group and learn. They felt the best way to do that was to work together.
It has grown to be so much more.
I I loved my time as an AIESECer. I built life-long relationships during my time at my university LC. I was part of OCX (Outgoing Exchange), which meant it was my responsibility to help with resumes and find placements for students wanting to work abroad. ICX was filled with students going to businesses and getting them excited about bringing students abroad to grow and expand their enterprise and thinking.
When I was part of AIESEC the hotbeds of placement were India and Turkey because of the growth taking place in both countries, but one of my friends got an internship with Heineken in Greece. We even had a World Wildlife Foundation internship in Peru that we worked hard to place. They were everywhere you could look, in 108 different countries. There are now 126 countries involved with 2,400 universities represented, and 70,000 students.
That's a whole lot of like minds interested in divesity and understanding.
I was attending an university that was honestly mostly white and male. My LC, however, was made up of most non-white students. It was filled with mainly middle eastern students (hence the Indian LC nickname), some black students, Asian and a few white people. We laughed and cried together. Played softball. Ran fundraisers. Took classes and commiserated over finals together. Had a hell of a lot of chicken BBQs, and even celebrated a birth of a baby between two AIESECers.
When 9/11 happened, and a government agency came to question one of our friends because he flew home to Dubai twice a year, we came together and supported each other, taking part in Ramadan as a show of solidarity. Because an AIESECer - part of an organization that has produced world and business leaders, and a Nobel peace prize laureate - is all about creating understanding and acceptance, not hate and divisiveness.
We worked hard, we played hard, and we loved each other.
And if you're in college, check to see if there is and AIESEC LC on your campus. They may open up a whole new world for you. It will be an experience you never forget.