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Category: Exchange Stories (page 2 of 11)

Stories from our Exchange Participants

Take Me To: Mauritius | Becky’s AIESEC Exchange

When I first came to university, I was excited to find out what I was going to do for the rest of my life because I thought school had all the answers for me.  However I quickly became disillusioned with school. I knew I still wanted to change myself and find what drives me. I didn’t see a chance to make a change when I was always in the same environment. I had only been to a small corner of the world, and to challenge myself meant that I needed to change my perspective. AIESEC was the perfect fit for me; I was provided with the platform to challenge myself and experience something life-changing.

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Going on exchange to Mauritius this summer changed not only myself but also my perspective of the world. I was accustomed to living in multicultural cities like Vancouver and Toronto, and seeing people from various backgrounds was natural to me. Growing up as a Canadian, I took for granted the freedom I had to learn from people of different cultures. While I was abroad I became acutely aware that I had a natural curiosity for learning about other cultures was rooted in my Canadian identity, and now I am forever thankful for it.

Evangeline

 

Living in major cities instilled in me a constant need to rush; in Mauritius I learned that there was more to life than just pushing myself to the limit. Something as simple as taking public transit became enjoyable again: going to work meant riding the bus and enjoying scenery that I would only be allowed to see for this short period of time. I still remember the first time I decided to do something out of my daily routine off work: I drank out of a coconut and kept the shell as a testament of my new lifestyle (I had to throw it out because my roommates thought I was being weird).

Our project was to develop and implement a six week business plan to improve the organizational strategies of a Mauritian NGO. The main goal of our project was to organize a community fair to help fundraise and increase community activity, but the best part of the project was the daily work. Our group of thirteen took turns every week volunteering at the daycare to interact with the children or help sort the donation inventory. For the first time in forever I was excited to wake up at 6AM in the morning to go to work. I tried to go to the daycare everyday because I actually enjoyed the experience of working with the locals and making the children laugh.

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My goal was to make an impact by giving it my all in every task I did, no matter how small. I wanted to make a difference in at least one person’s life. Going on this journey with this mindset gave me lifelong friends. My favourite memories after going on exchange are all filled with the interactions I had with the children, my team, and my roommates who I still talk to today. I found my answers through exchange in regards to my identity, purpose, and drive. I couldn’t have understood why I have my values if I didn’t challenge them first. Finally I understood that anyone can make an impact, as long as we continuously seek these opportunities and put all your passion into whatever you plan to do. We can’t change the world without changing ourselves first, and I am happy to have taken my first step by going abroad.

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Take Me To: Norway | Alison’s AIESEC Exchange

alison

I went to Oslo, Norway this summer on a Global Citizen exchange for 6 weeks. I was living with 11 other interns who were all from different cultures and we had to organize a summer camp for Norwegian and refugee children ages 6 to 14. It was hard at first because everyone had different ideas about the camp, and we had different communication styles due to our cultural differences. However, we had utilized all our strengths to make everything happen! I have learned more about my strengths and myself. Learning about the culture of others allowed me to know more about the team that I was working with, and to know more about their perspectives. Keeping an open mind and communication were definitely the key!

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I believe that learning about the Norwegian culture through the children from the camp is also valuable. Although many would say that Norwegians are distant and not as passionate as North Americans, I must say that they can also be very sweet when they get to know you better. Some children would come to me at the camp everyday for a hug as soon as they arrived and before they went home, and they would always want to play their traditional Norwegian games with me.  Knowing some of the refugee children’s experiences made me realize that we should really treasure what we have. We shouldn’t take anything for granted!

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I must say that the most memorable experience was the 12-hour hike through altitudes of up to 1800m. The hike was very challenging, as we had to hike up and down multiple times, and there was even a part where we had to do rock climbing without any safety gear!

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We got to see the gorgeous Norwegian nature, but I think most importantly we all became much closer to each other after the hike. During the 12 hours, we helped each other out, we talked to one another, and I am happy to know that they are all very nice individuals with very kind hearts. It is great knowing them, and I am sure that whenever I go to the city that they reside in, I will have a friend and we will never forget one another!

 

 

Thanks to AIESEC for this internship, TusenTakk!

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