My favorite AIESEC moment happened at an international conference called European Congress, when I created My Stand. The conference was filled with wonderful moments - meeting incredibly experienced and passionate AIESECers from all over the world, comparing AIESEC realities, discussing issues in our respective countries, and learning about the lives of the people around us.
However, my favorite moment is the creation of My Stand because it connected my passion for the organization with the passion of my life. I care about changing the world and leaving it a better place than when I arrived; through AIESEC, I have connected this desire with a passion for leadership development. Over the past 3 years, I have discovered that developing leaders is my life's passion, because it is the most impactful action that I can take.
I looked at My Stand and was proud that I was taking action in AIESEC that aligned with my purpose in life. I was moved to tears as I listened to other AIESECers from around the world share their Stands; I could feel the passion and love of humanity in the room.
The quality I have developed the most is Empowering Others. When I first started my VP term I was very bad at trusting others with responsibility and I was not quick to delegate. In my mind, I knew exactly what my vision was, so I was the best person to lead everything and I could delegate small tasks to people to accomplish that vision. However, I learned in the 2nd half of my VP term that that is 1. not fulfilling for my team, 2. not challenging enough for my team, and 3. too much work for 1 person.
In my own development as a leader, I focused on battling my urge to take on everything, from the end of my VP term through my term as President.
The key was failure. I had to see that I am not capable of doing everything and fail at trying to do everything, to see how important it is to focus on your people achieving your vision, not the vision itself. As I took on more intensive leadership positions, I began to see how much time it takes to manage people and operations, so by focusing on the people and empowering them to take on responsibility, I was able to provide developmental experiences for my members and VPs. If I had stuck with my old ways, I 1. wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much and 2. wouldn't have had time to focus on providing an experience to my members and VPs.
My future goals have evolved since I have joined AIESEC. Before joining AIESEC, my main passion was microfinance. I still support microfinance, but have learned that it is not as effective in helping people out of poverty as most had previously thought. Great ideas come from people; without caring and thoughtful leaders, who are passionate about making a difference, we will never improve good concepts like microfinance to be more effective (or come up with new ideas that are even more effective)! I would like to run the human resources and organizational development of a big social enterprise, so that I can develop the change-makers in the most influential sector of society: business. After learning the ins-and-outs of an established social enterprise and successfully transitioning that responsibility to another leader, I want to start my own business.
I originally joined AIESEC to develop my professional skills. Doing corporate sales for a not-for-profit like AIESEC was the best opportunity for me to develop my own personal network and challenge myself to get comfortable working with much older and more experienced leaders in the corporate world.
I have been to 18 countries on five continents in my 21 years.
Before college, I had only been to 6 countries on two continents. My experiences in college have given me the chance to go to Africa, Asia, and South America, which have expanded my world view beyond North America and Europe. This would not have been possible for me without the support of the Foundation Fellowship, so I am forever grateful for the support that the Foundation has given me. I have utilized AIESEC, travel-study through the Foundation Fellowship, and study-abroad to explore the world. One of the most impactful experiences of my life was when I went to South Africa and worked in a non-profit in Kayamandi, which is a township in South Africa.
I do not measure any impact that I may or may not have made, but the impact that the experience had on me. I think we often glorify the short-term volunteering that we do, to say that we "made an impact;" in my opinion, we can only make a true impact if we can learn from other situations, realities, and issues around the world, to take action in our every day lives. Learning about the lives of the children in Kayamandi opened my eyes to the issues that another society struggles with and taught me not to depend on my own preconceived solutions to issues that I don't fully understand.
Originally posted January 2016