I’m Louise, the President of AIESEC at the University of Western Australia, and I’m in my final year of my undergraduate Commerce degree at the Business School. I have a passion for food, travelling to new places, meeting new people and making a difference, which is what led me to take up the AIESEC Global Citizen Volunteer Abroad Program in India. AIESEC, which originally stood for the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences, is the largest not for profit student run organisation in the world, operating in Australia for 50 years. AIESEC believes in developing responsible and entrepreneurial leaders to achieve its vision. The Global Citizen Volunteer Abroad Program, one of its most popular programs, gave me the opportunity to travel to India for the first time while gaining new experiences and skills. Through the Global Citizen Volunteer Program, I spent the past summer holidays (2015) volunteering with CanKids KidsCan in Delhi. It was the first time I went on the AIESEC exchange program and it was a rewarding and memorable experience.
My program was for six weeks, and before I went I thought this would be plenty of time. However, whilst I gained a lot from the exchange program in a short period of time, I quickly realised that six weeks was way too little as there was just so much to see and do in India.
CanKids is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) that supports kids with cancer. CanKids does incredible work and I was so glad to volunteer with them. But, it wasn’t just me giving my time to the organisation; I got so much out of the experience and was able to develop my own personal and professional skills through the tasks and responsibilities that I was given.
Each day was different. I worked within the HR department and had a good relationship with the HR manager. She would check in with me each morning, giving me new tasks as well as checking my progress on any ongoing tasks from previous days. Then I would be working in my own workspace throughout the day and liaising with colleagues to assist me in completing my tasks. One of the biggest roles I was responsible for was the organising of an internal forum for the staff, which was used to celebrate all the successes that all the departments had in the past quarter. There were rewards and recognition to the departments for their work as well as to top individuals as well. It was a day to acknowledge what had been achieved and what more could be done moving forward. Organising the internal forum for the staff was great as it gave me an excellent insight into the work CanKids has done historically and how that work informs its future efforts and strategies. Aside from the aforementioned work, every day I was tasked with smaller errands to perform such as proof-reading reports and drafting documents.
CanKids and my manager provided plenty of support and guidance, being attentive to my questions and checking to make sure I had everything I needed – it was a very friendly environment. Each day started at 10am with a morning serving of chai tea, with another served in the afternoon. These little rituals made me really fond of chai and each day I would eagerly anticipate it.
Why volunteer through AISEC
Going through AIESEC gave me additional support, which made my first time in India a little easier. AIESEC organised the placement and our accommodation. I stayed at an apartment with other AIESEC interns, with some also volunteering at CanKids.
Although I am a huge meat lover and I didn’t eat much red meat, the food that I had in India was incredible. Mostly, I ate a lot of chicken and vegetarian food during my exchange. When we were in Varanasi, because it is a very holy city, all the food was vegetarian.
On the weekends and after the placement I travelled as much as I could. One of my favourite places was Varanasi. We visited the Ganges River and took a boat ride just before sunset – it was a beautiful sight! Some of the temples that we saw were beautifully constructed such as the Akshardham Temple.
Before I went on exchange, I always heard the same answers from past exchange participants about what the best part of their AIESEC exchange was. Mostly, the answer was the people that they met and I couldn’t agree more. AIESEC is a global organisation so the exchange participants on the project were from all over the world. On my project there were people from Brazil, and whilst we did not share the same first language and culture, we still ended up becoming such good friends. My time spent with them and working with the locals at the NGO is what I gained the most from my AIESEC exchange in India!
If you are considering an AIESEC exchange programs, you should get involved with your local AEISEC chapter at your university. AIESEC is set up in small chapters run by fellow students. You can talk to others who have been on an exchange, get tips on your application and, at the least, make some great friends.
Have a look at Asia Options’ important tips for successful applications
Latest posts by Louise Kim (see all)
- Louise’s AIESEC Global Citizen Volunteer Abroad Program to India - November 18, 2015