Doing Better, Being Better, Leading Better.
this is part of the project of GT WIKI — Connection to Why
“Can you imagine what happens to the world when we Engage and Develop Every Young Person?”
We all know how the AIESEC Way goes. We might even have particular favorite parts — and I won’t lie, so do I! This particular question is it. The older ones, or the history enthusiasts might be familiar with the highlighted portion as AIESEC’s BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal. But that’s not why it’s my favorite. I love it for its simplicity to comprehend, for its audacity to make you dream big, and for its explicit usage of “when” as opposed to “if”, a confident declaration that it can be done, and that AIESEC will manifest it as part of its Essence. It’s a powerful question that demands powerful action in response, and that’s all it took for me to get into this thing and keep at it, even 5 years later.
I was a curious kid growing up. I still am. But I was also quiet. And so in the vast amount of information that could be right in front of me, I would keep my head down and learn it all one by one, not really realizing how much I was still missing, not until I entered university. Which was okay, I guess. University was a sort of clean slate — new friends, new academic focus, new character development path, but still the same old curious me. I don’t know where it came from, the spark to finally look up and take on more, and more, and more. But I’m glad it came. Because it led me to AIESEC.
I can’t keep track of how much I’ve been molded and evolved throughout my years in the organization. The incredible thing about AIESEC is how varied everyone’s journey is, and that’s highly dependent on the experiences that you take, but also more importantly, the experiences that you choose to make. It never occurred to me until my later years that AIESEC’s BHAG doesn’t pertain to only the Exchange Participants that walk in and out of our programs, the Young Persons also encapsulate the members that go through different roles, conferences, events, and more with AIESEC. And the curious kid in me that just wanted to keep learning, keep growing, fell in love and continued to fall in love with that purpose of AIESEC.
Granted, the journey hasn’t always been smooth-sailing. I’ve had roles that have made me question if I was doing the right thing, teammates that have made me wonder if this was the right place to ground myself in, and just general moments of alone time that have made me imagine if leaving is the best next road to take. I’ve taken breaks whenever these moments arise — it’s better that than to let myself combust and hurt everyone else, right? But that didn’t mean I distanced myself completely, I still talked to people, still dropped by activities, still supported events because I wanted to look at it from a semi-outsider perspective. I noticed things — mistakes, shortcomings, missing pieces — that my old curious self wanted to dive back into and get working on. If not now, when; if not me, who? (As they would say.)
I think the largest difference with coming back was how it became less about my growth and development, and more about others instead. Every step of the way I would think, “Are my members learning? Do they understand why we do this? How can I make them appreciate it all, the good and the tough parts?” My entire MC experience had me working in the Front Office (iGV in 1819, then iGT in 1920), so naturally, it got a little difficult — you tend to put your EPs first, after all. But I wanted to change that mindset. This year, I drilled in my network that we operate our programs with a three-way foundation: Partners (OP), Youth (EP), and Members. How we shaped our activities and experiences needed to cater to helping and guiding all three aspects. When we talked about Engaging and Developing Young People, we thought about all three as part of making it happen.
Do I wish I had that less selfish mindset earlier on? Do I wish I’d been taught the practicality of the Essence from the beginning of my journey, instead of learning it myself much, much later in my AIESEC years? Yes and no. I’ve grown to believe that oftentimes, things happen for a reason, and when they happen is a crucial part of the process. I think a lot of how things now would be different if I’d shifted paradigms earlier — and I don’t know if it would be a good or bad change. I might’ve not been ready yet, I might’ve been too stubborn to understand it still, and so gradual time was a necessity. I’m learning to let go of seeing regrets in my past, and showing gratitude for the lessons that they became for me. Right now my only mistake would be to not pass on what I’ve learned for future generations to do even better than I have, as growth should be like.
Five years, four departments, and countless team members, team leaders, directors, and more led, led by, befriended, and impacted. One way or another, I’ve done my best to shape my experiences and theirs to ensure they’ve felt more Engaged and Developed throughout their AIESEC journeys. I look back at the years that have passed, and feel satisfaction knowing I’ve taken to heart coming close to actualizing the question that drives us towards Peace and Fulfillment (PnF) of Humankind’s Potential. I hope you, the reader, takes this as a call to act of the same manner — imagine the impact of youth leadership, and consciously create moments to make that a reality.