AIESEC reunites young leaders in conference in Vietnam

International Presidents Meeting is held in February

On the night of February 19, the streets of Vietnam will be filled with colors, noises and firecrackers. People will be enjoying the Vietnamese New Year, also known as Tet – a short version of an expression that means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”. The holiday celebrates the rise of a new year according to the Vietnamese calendar, but in 2015 not only locals will be charmed by the country’s tradition. More than 200 young faces, representing 125 countries and territories, are joining the celebration since Vietnam is hosting for the first time one of the most important AIESEC conferences.

International Presidents Meeting

Every year, February is the date of the International Presidents Meeting delivery. It is an occasion where the elected and current National Presidents of the countries and territories that are part of the organization get together to discuss the entity’s future. However, the 10-days conference is not the only attraction of this international reunion. Under the name Global Youth Summit, this year edition gathers different events under the theme “youth and sustainable success”. The pillars that are the base of this topic are passion, capability and goodwill; Hang Tran is the final responsible of the event’s preparation and she explains that those values combined together are a way to reach individual success and the development that our society needs. “We want to inspire young people to live with purpose, to be open-minded and to do good for others”, says her.

The agenda is full and there will be a lot going on. If you cannot wait to be there, check it out the to-do list!

 

To-Do List!

Two huge debate spaces will take place during the Summit on February 10 (Vietnam to the World Forum) and February 16 (Global YouthSpeak Forum). If you like sharing ideas and being inspired by amazing stories of people changing the world, these are the places to be! Both occasions are bringing speakers to present their views during panels, promoting discussions that will culminate with concrete activities in workshops and networking activities.

What is the point of reuniting so many cultures in one place if they cannot show a little bit of their homes, right? The afternoon of February 10 will bring a lot of surprises and probably cultural shocks in the format of food, music, clothes and dances while AIESEC’s 125 entities are represented in stands and artistic presentations at the Global Village. Get ready to walk around and visit the five continents in just a few hours! More than 6 thousand registrations were already received.

Last but no least, young leaders of the most diverse realities are going to share the day to day and their thoughts while dreaming about the next generation of AIESEC at global level. On one hand, the current National Presidents, who have already crossed half of their one-year term, are going to share their experience so far and get refreshed for the next months of work. On the other hand, AIESECers that have just been elected to lead their countries from July 2015 on will start officially the preparation for this new challenge. In addition, this conference has a huge importance to the organization because it is the occasion when the International AIESEC President is known. To sum up, the election process and the discussions about AIESEC future are the principle goals of the AIESEC Global Conference.

 

Vietnam

After Serbia, in 2013, and China, in 2014, it is time to Vietnam to host the international conference. In less than two weeks, AIESECers from everywhere will be heading to Ho Chi Minh, former Saigon, and the largest city in Vietnam. More than 7 million people live in this colorful city, which is the country’s economic heart.

The Global Summit is important to AIESEC for the reasons already listed in this article, but Hang guarantees the conference is priceless to the country as well. “We will prove to externals that we are relevant to Vietnam and we are making positive impact to society”, explains her. Hang is young still, but she has already lived several experiences in AIESEC that brought her to the position of Congress Committee President and it’s a big deal: more than one year managing a 29 people team in order to provide the best conference for its delegates is a tough job. However, Hang affirms that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “It was tough and challenging, but also very memorable. My proudest moment is when I see 29 members growing with this project. And their impact later will matter”, ends her.

What is the impact of the Global Youth Summit in the world? Do not lose the upcoming news about it over here and in the event’s official website.

Why should you join AIESEC?

This is a question I get a lot.

“Why are we all here?” is another one.

In the last few days, I have been asking myself this question. Maybe it is because I was elected Team Leader and I am choosing the people who will be part of my next team – and this is a very special occasion when one has no option but revisit the organization’s purpose. Maybe it is because this is just one of the one million questions about AIESEC that my family always ask me and I could never find a satisfactory answer. Or, after all, it is just something I like to think about when I’m in one of those reflexive days.

The true is that some of us, AIESECers, feel quite well in this organization and we can repeat the speech countless times, (“AIESEC is a global non-political organization located in more than 125 countries and territories…”). However, when it is time to explain WHY, why does it make us feel so complete? Why does it taste like home? Why can we find meaning in something that our parents feel a bit odd to understand?

I have been in AIESEC for more than 3 years now and every day I find out a new reason to be here. Anyway, trying to sum up all the reasons of being in AIESEC to write this article, I came up with a 5-item list that I’m going to present to you right now and maybe (hopefully!) you will feel identified – if you already are an AIESECer – or, at least, curious – if you are not.

1. Find out what makes you feel passionate

If you have ever been in love, you know the feeling: a heartbeat you can’t control, everything seems beautiful, a lot of energy coming out from your pores. Passion means having a strong sense of connection with someone or something, an endless source of motivation and will. Everything is possible and you are confident you can overcome any challenges. Ok, ok, not all of us find our soul mate in AIESEC. Nevertheless, what we sure do is to discover what makes us feel passionate about life.

To work in different teams, doing the most diverse activities and interacting with people with backgrounds that we are not familiar with are some of the tools that AIESEC provides that can be very useful to find out what are our likes and dislikes. One day you may be responsible for a marketing strategy, until a brand new position in human resources is available and you decide to take a shot – and, before all of that, you were organizing an event! There’s no need to be an expert – in fact, AIESEC was made to be a platform where young students and graduates can feel the taste of success and failure, and understand themselves better based on that.

I myself studied Journalism, but in AIESEC I have worked in all kinds of projects, since running exchange operations until making a budget, and today I can easily say what are the things that really accelerate my pulse and push me to go further. Trying new things and seeing the results of your efforts result in self-knowledge and this kind of understanding is really welcomed in this phase of our lives, when we are in our twenties and we should decide our future even though we have no clue about our present. If you are looking for a place to figure out your path in life, AIESEC can help you with that.

2. People!

Not everybody is super sociable, but we are humans and we are supposed to like being around people. The good thing about AIESEC is that you will meet many people and, some of them you wouldn’t have the chance to know in other circumstances. I mean, it’s not just the amazing increase in the number of friends you have in Facebook, a weird and funny thing that happens to anyone who joins AIESEC: one day you are just living your normal and boring online life, the next day after you post a picture with your AIESEC mates (picking up a trainee or hanging out after a meeting), several friends request will pop up and, in most cases, you have never met the people who wants to be friends with you. But, hey! They work in AIESEC somewhere and, somehow, it makes you feel connected.

What I’m really talking about is to be working and realizing projects with boys and girls from different universities, cities and even continents. It’s such a rich environment, where you can get to meet people who talk with different accents, but that are connected by the same interests and desires of changing the world. We are all young and we all have ideas to share. Sometimes, when I talk to my international girlfriends in whats app (an Indian, a Chinese, a Greek, an Argentinean – all the crazy ladies that were part of my exchange in, guess where? Egypt!), I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet them and to see the world from their perspectives, some of them so different from mine and so much interesting exactly because of that.

3. Discover the world

AIESEC is about exchange and the changes that result from it. You can chose: change of mind, of people, of jobs. Actually, the first meaning of change that will pop up in an AIESECer’s mind is the change of landscape. Present in over 125 countries and territories (here it is the speech again!), what we do is to send abroad young volunteers and professionals to live impactful experiences where they should learn, teach and, most of all, discover the world that is hidden in every corner. AIESEC is about travelling, but it is not a regular vacation trip. It is a journey of discoveries, where the exchange participant will live as a native, use their means of transportation, eat their food, walk on their streets and see them in a state of total immersion. Their culture will become your culture and you will leave part of your country with them and import part of their home to yours.

Since I joined AIESEC, I have been in four countries and I could tell you how special they are to me in every single way. People, places, adventures, good memories that shaped me, made me who I am and I’m pretty sure that I like a lot more this version of me right now, a nice little mess full of parts of the places I     ‘ve been and people I’ve loved, than the girl I was before.

4. Learn (new languages, new skills, new ideas)

 

You may not do an exchange or you may not lead a team (although these things are highly recommended), but one thing you will be doing for sure in AIESEC is to learn. Every day, every occasion, every responsibility you decide to assume, you will be learning. From a new language to a software to edit videos, from to prepare a foreign dish to a team management theory, from an app to manage better your time to an exotic dance. You got the point, right? Reunite thousands of young people, full of hormones and ideas, and give them a challenge to overcome. The result is an intense learning environment, where one is teaching what he knows in exchange of learning other people’s specialties. And before you ask, no, you don’t have to join a two-hour class or to sign up to one of those tutorial videos websites. You just need to be open to share, to be present, and to learn as you go, trying and giving your best. Set an objective, define the way to reach it and work hard – the necessity to learn will show up during the way and you will have to adapt yourself or give up in the process. FYI: giving up is not something we accept easily in AIESEC.

5. Lead yourself, lead the change

 

The last item of this list is actually a resume of the other things I put here. A resume? Better yet: it is a consequence. In AIESEC we believe that leaders are the fundamental solution for the worlds’ problems. I bet you will agree with me: imagine being able to know your strengths and weaknesses, having clear idea of the things you want to be and the things you don’t want to do. More than that, you feel responsible for the world, the issues in our society bug you and there’s this internal rush to do something, to take an active part in the transformation world needs.

However, you know that changing requires effort and that’s why you decide to connect yourself with people that have the same will as you do. Together, you can fill each other’s’ gaps and combine your talents to achieve something bigger. Using your qualities along with others to make a contribution, looking for the resolution of a problem, engaging others to feel responsible for the world as well. This is a leader for AIESEC. This is the kind of person we want to give to the world and that’s why we do what we do. That’s why it is worth to join AIESEC, a place where more than 40 thousand young people all over the world work in different projects and areas, each one walking towards this unique goal of giving more and more leaders who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world. You know what? A leader I know once said that the crazy ones are the ones who really change it. And I totally agree.

What about you? If you do too, maybe this is the place you belong 🙂

The Value of Purpose-Driven Leaders

“The key challenge for business is how do we get more purpose-driven leaders that realise they are there to make a difference in the world”, said Bill George of Harvard Business School at The World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos again this year.

“The pressures are greater today than they’ve ever been on CEOs to produce short-term results but it’s really not about that. It’ about having a company that’s going to solve actual social problems through the work the company does and that requires a company with commitment to purpose throughout the entire organisation.”

In a highly globalised world we live in today facing numerous challenges, purpose is what unites people to work towards a common future. To have purpose is to give meaning to the goals we are striving to achieve together. Purposeful and meaningful work is becoming more and more important worldwide. According to Youth Speak, the global millennial insight survey, young people rated meaningful work as the 2nd most important factor in the first 5 years of their career.

 

Additionally, 72% of Youth Speak respondents believe that it is important for companies to positively impact society. Although the definition of “positive impact” varies, data shows that Generation Y demands companies to have meaningful contribution to society and not solely generate profit without purpose.

Many companies worldwide recognize the significance of meaningful contribution to issues that affect society today. A PR Newswire article highlights the findings of the global research, which was launched at The World Economic Forum by Ernst & Young and Oxford. One of the findings states “Corporate leaders see the organization’s role evolving to address global challenges, taking an active role in creating well-being and value for and with a wider set of stakeholders.”

However, the findings also show that while businesses recognize the importance of purpose for driving core strategies and operations, they also “acknowledge there is a gap between this recognition and the policy and practice in their organizations.” (source)

Therefore, we are back to the question posed by Mr. Bill George of Harvard Business School:

How do we get more purpose-driven leaders who can act on the purpose?

AIESEC, the world’s largest student organization, believes the answer lies in providing young people with practical leadership experiences. By engaging in a challenging environment designed to test them, push them and shape them, young people are given the chance to try and the freedom to fail.

Learning by doing leaves the most powerful impact and allows first-hand discovery of what you are good at, what you are not good at and what really matters to you. Self-awareness developed by learning through trial and error is a first step to realizing your own potential and your unique contribution to the world.

So do you know how can you contribute?

Thinking in terms of contribution is crucial for developing purposeful leaders – the ones who see the bigger picture and understand the importance of meaningful contribution to building a better world.

Developing more purpose-driven leaders is a step towards building a more sustainable future.