Here's a question people have asked me: Why China? Why now?
It was, in many ways, a coincidence of good timing. I had just joined AIESEC, and right after I did, when I was still feeling uncertain about the role that AIESEC would play in my life, AIESEC committed to working with the UN to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It was at the weekly meeting my AIESEC chapter held where they introduced the goals that I decided that I would make it my goal to go on an exchange to work on one of these goals that summer.
Even more perfect was when the 6for10 campaign was released a few months later. The campaign's goal is to send 1,000 young people from the United States to work in 1 of 10 countries to focus on the SDG #10, Reduced Inequalities. Reduced Inequalities can range from women’s empowerment to working on community empowerment. I applied and was lucky enough to get the position of 6for10 Manager for Mainland of China for the summer. This meant that I would not get to experience a 6for10 project myself in China for the summer, but that I would also be in charge of working with the national committee for AIESEC in China to establish marketing and internal relations.
I began looking for projects. At first, I was unsure of what I wanted to do, but when I found Light Starry Kids, I knew it was perfect.
The project works in a local Shanghai community center with kids who have disabilities ranging from autism to paralysis who are often looked down upon by the community.
I had worked with kids with disabilities before and was excited to find a project that aligned so well with projects I had done in the past. The center has been a part of the community for years and treats children ranging from ages 1-10. These kids are always so happy to see us and we are even happier to get the chance to work with them. The way kids with disabilities are treated here is one of more one-on-one interaction than anything, and getting to work one-on-one with a kid created an extremely intimate relationship that surpassed my expectations.
So months later I am now in Shanghai, staying in an apartment style house with seven other interns, three doing my project, all from India. It’s incredible to experience one culture while being in another culture completely as well. We live, work, eat, and travel Shanghai together, all while getting to know each other’s cultures.
The beauty of AIESEC is that there's no agenda for your spare time.
For example, we all decided that for the national holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival, we would go to Xitang with some members of the local chapter, Shanghai International Studies University(SISU) to get to experience another part of China. We spent the day eating local cuisine (fried scorpion and all) and getting to see another city that is more off the map, an experience that most programs don’t offer the time to see. We also get to interact more with students at the university, people our own age who are also in AIESEC and are sometimes going off to do their own AIESEC exchanges later in the summer.
It’s been a very hectic and exhilarating two weeks and I’m excited to see where the next six take me.
This is part one of Maital's journey in China. Find the other parts here!
Part Two: How A Bowl of Soup Made Me Brave -- http://aiesecus.org/blog/how-a-bowl-of-soup-made-me-brave
Part Three: Why did you choose China? (Exposed) -- http://aiesecus.org/blog/why-did-you-choose-china-exposed
Part Four: Guess Who's Back, Back Again -- http://aiesecus.org/blog/guess-whos-back-back-again
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