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AIESEC Australia

About

AIESEC is the global youth network impacting the world through leadership development experiences. Present in 124 countries and territories, AIESEC is the world's largest youth-run organisation. Run by youth and for youth (18-30 yrs), we envision the 'peace and fulfilment of humankind's potential'.

In a world, which faces many different global challenges, we believe that the present-day solution is to develop responsible and entrepreneurial youth leaders today.

More particularly, AIESEC Australia has been present in Australia for 50 years, with chapters in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Our main two exchange programs, the Global Citizen (Volunteer Abroad) and Global Talent (Work Abroad) programs have enabled thousands of students to go overseas over the years.

Our exchange participants have had the opportunity to experience a different culture, to work with other international interns and develop their leadership.

Founded
1948
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Jessica
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I've always been that one spontaneous friend in the group; that one friend who consistently and conscientiously brings up ideas that we could do. I always change my mind and half the time I change them over. AIESEC in Hungary was something I never even thought of. At the beginning of 2013, I had no plans to travel alone. Little did I know, a random 'what-if' had sprung up and I applied. In my head, it was all just something I would apply for to see what would happen or if I could even get in. I did. And so, this little 'Jess-Plan' as my best friends name it became a 'Jess-ends-up-in-Hungary-for-Summer-Vacation'.

I never really thought I'd be into teaching. My program with the Bolyai Janos School in Szombathely, a city near the border of Hungary and Austria, was as far off my entire life direction had ever been. By the end of 2013, I had finished my second year of a Bachelor of Engineering and Arts degree. I had no experience in teaching (especially English as a second language), save for a few tutoring students.

I chose Hungary because it was a country I had never known anything about. I did not know the language (which happens to be by far one of the most interesting and intricate languages in my experience), or the customs. So I decided to take a leap. Even the city I was staying in (a whopping 3 hour train trip from Budapest), I did not know until I decided to Google it in a hotel room in Hong Kong two nights before my arrival.

I was assigned to two host families to stay. With their help, I settled in. Hungarian customs are interesting. The Hungarian word for Hello AND Goodbye is 'Szia!' (see-ya). They also said 'Hello' as a farewell. You can imagine the confusion for about the first week or so.

I was assigned to aid teachers in the Language Department. A majority of my days were in the office reading and taking walks around the school where I could meet the students, many of which were too timid to approach a native English speaker. Although I was bored quite often, my positive experiences had overtaken the negative. My host family took me skiing in the Austrian Alps, they took me to see the neighbouring castles and they made delicious food every night!

The children I talked to were really enthusiastic. Regardless of the language barrier, we all cried together at the end of my stay. I have never thought that I would be so attached to strangers and students in this environment.

I had a wonderful white-summer. This experience had opened my eyes to the world around me.

What would you improve about this program?
A more diverse range of opportunities and a higher inclusion rate.
Default avatar
SGCF
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went to Philippines with AIESEC Australia for 6 weeks. Compared to other volunteering programs this is entirely student run and comparatively low price. The price sometimes is not inclusive of accommodation but that is what you expect from a student-run organisation. To ensure safety it is up to your own will to make sure you have all the travel insurance, and other safety procedures required, which is understandable. The adminstration fee was $700 only to find a project and get into the system. However, for my airfares it was $1000. My accommodation was $220. I spent around $30 on all my travelling and food was around $250 (because I also wanted to try more expensive meals.) I also spent more on other expenses that were not compulsory. So overall, it was relatively cheap.
For a student-run organisation it brings in such a business viewpoint that has successfully shown its success for 50 years in Australia. And over 50 worldwide.

What would you improve about this program?
The organisation is definitely changing in they way that needed improving when I was doing their Global Citizen program. Their website was out to date and people had to pay to get access into the types of programs available.
I believe the best thing they should do is get the projects ready and prepare for at least 6 months to ensure the quality.
A lot of the students who volunteer in these committees often get demotivated if they haven't been on these programs themselves. This needs to be addressed somehow to ensure quality.
Default avatar
Brigitte
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

When in doubt, ask questions. Do not assume that things will get solved, you have to be proactive and speak up! If you feel that your questions are not being attended to then escalate the issue. Do not worry about beating the bush - nothing will get done if you do.

What would you improve about this program?
The program was overall a little disorganised. People did not know what was required, when they had to be where or how to fulfil expectations. (For example, the first day that I was supposed to be teaching at the school I arrived there at 7AM and the school was closed for that day)
Default avatar
Monica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going on an exchange program with AIESEC was an incredibly life-changing experience. It was completely different from what I expected - it was much more than just a 'volunteer program' just to make its participants feel good about giving back. Rather than 'voluntourism', AIESEC's Global Citizen Program is all about developing its participants into responsible young leaders. It challenges young people in a foreign environment, expanding their global awareness through deep cultural emersion and working closely with communities. The projects themselves deal with a social issues prevalent in the country, allowing exchange participants from across the world to understand and begin their journey towards becoming a global citizen and taking responsibility for world issues beyond their local sphere. And further, each project is worked on by a group of interns from across the world, meaning each exchange participant is also able to develop cross-cultural teamwork and communication skills, while understanding cultures beyond just the country the exchange takes place. In AIESEC, the NGOs, schools etc. partner with AIESEC so that interns across the world can provide value to them. In this way, this emphasises the impact the AIESEC can make on the individual as well as the country, by actually being a valuable asset to the NGOs/schools etc. with their knowledge from abroad.

As a result, the experience you get is one that teaches you about responsible leadership, and really challenges you to find yourself and your goals in life. I really encourage all young people to have this experience, as the things we learn today will change how we move the world tomorrow.

What would you improve about this program?
Better expectations about day-to-day teachings beforehand as to what I could bring from my home country to help with the learning of the children.

Programs

Displaying 10 - 17 of 17

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Monica Luo

Monica is a 5th year Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws student at the University of Sydney. When she was 19, at the end of her second year, she decided to embark on a Global Citizen program in Malaysia to challenge herself and discover her potential.
Female Headshot

What made this experience unique and special?

This experience has been one that has made a fundamental difference to my life. It has helped me to find what my passions are, to truly become a ‘Global Citizen’, to be globally aware and to be a leader that can help address issues the world is currently facing.

Ever since the program has ended, I’ve taken numerous small steps towards becoming a better person for the world. Why travel or be a ‘voluntourist’ when you can do a program that actually contributes to making an impact on the world?

Describe your program socially and academically.

The program is designed to be a leadership development program – enhancing your global awareness, self-awareness and communication skills to become a responsible ‘Global Citizen’ that understands their responsibility towards global issues.

As a result, the program is distinctly different from other ‘voluntourism’ programs, but one where a position is created for a person with an important set of skills required by a school, NGO, organization etc. For the Global Citizen program, the types of projects are vast and each require their own set of skills.

However, generally they would like someone who can bring their experience to enhance the global awareness of those in the projects. For example, you could have a culture-sharing project, or teaching English, or running informative workshops on HIV/AIDs. My particular project was providing education (basic English, maths and science) at a shelter for disadvantaged youth.

I ran classes and workshops with four other people (all from different countries) on my project, learning from their different backgrounds as well as learning to work in a team to deliver our tasks. Many of the children were unable to attend school, and the role of the volunteers was to give them access to the world beyond what they knew. We helped the children learn about the world, our home countries, increased their confidence in writing and speaking English, and much more.

Therefore, while making an impact on their lives through education, I was also learning so much on an academic level. It was a practical leadership experience, complementing and enhancing my academic learning by challenging me in a foreign environment. I was able to navigate through working in a cross-cultural team, practicing my soft skills in communicating and presenting, and learning to do so effectively when English was hardly spoken.

What did your provider do for you and what did you need to do on your own?

At AIESEC, each exchange participant is partnered with a ‘buddy’ (called an Exchange Participant Manager) that keeps in contact with you throughout the process to ensure everything is going smoothly. Aside from the $700 administration fee, all participants need to find and pay for their own flights, visa costs and travel insurance.Depending on the program, food and accommodation can be provided free or at a small fee. For my project, accommodation and food was included (I lived with the children in the home).

AIESEC provided workshops and preparation classes before and after departure, access to previous volunteers and helpful tips regarding flights, visas and travel insurance. Their service continues throughout the entire exchange with constant communication from start to finish, with a welcome back event afterwards as well.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Working first-hand with such an issue (access to education) really opened my eyes to not take what I had back in Australia for granted.I felt a deep sense of responsibility to ensure that I use what I was lucky to have, to make a positive impact on the world. The experience challenged me to discover what I was passionate about, and where I wanted to make my mark on the world.

Understanding my purpose allowed me to excel at other endeavors following from my Global Citizen program, including securing a part-time casual job at the University of Sydney to balance with my study. I also became the Director of International Exchange at AIESEC in Sydney and was in charge of running the Global Citizen program on the University of Sydney campus.

I then became the President and Managing Director at AIESEC in Sydney, operating the social enterprise and business to develop entrepreneurial and responsible leaders in young people. My life goal is ‘to empower businesses to be sustainable and commit to making a positive impact on the world.’ Going forward, I am continuing to explore avenues where I can make this happen.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Mei Kok

Job Title
President

What position do you hold at AIESEC Australia? What has been your career path so far?

Mei

Mei: I am currently the President of AIESEC Australia where I manage all the strategies and activities that are going on in Australia, ensuring alignment to our global direction.

I started out back in 2011 in Business Development where I was liaising and forming partnerships for our organisation. I then became in charge of this department in my local office back in the University of Western Australia, Perth.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to work in Singapore as the Vice-President of Incoming Operations. I then came back to Australia to manage Business Development on a national level as the Vice-President of Business Development.

Did you volunteer or intern abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Mei: Yes, I did a volunteer exchange abroad. I chose to go to Egypt through an AIESEC exchange. I went in the midst of the revolution in Egypt, in December 2011.

The reason I chose Egypt was because I really wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and experience working in a culture that was really foreign to me. I wanted to challenge myself to see how far I could stretch.

Besides, being part of AIESEC, I had heard many good experiences of people who had returned from their exchanges and I really wanted to experience it for myself.

What makes AIESEC Australia's programs special?

Mei: There are a few things that makes the AIESEC program unique. Firstly, AIESEC's global learning environment. The AIESEC exchange allows you to go to a foreign country where you will be received by the local AIESEC members also known as "AIESECers". In addition, you will usually be teamed up with AIESEC volunteers/interns from other parts of the world, who are also going through the same experience.

Secondly, AIESEC fully immerses you in the culture and environment you are going to. You live like the locals and the local AIESECers take you where they usually go.

Finally, and this is the best part, AIESEC allows you to shape your own experience. It is up to you to see how far you want to take the program, how much you want to commit. The principle is simple: The more you give, the more you get out. That is also the principle I live by in everything that I do.

What is your favorite story of an AIESECer's experience via AIESEC Australia?

Mei: My favorite story of an AIESECer's experience in Australia is that of David Pirozzi's. He was from the University of Sydney and was the President of the Local Committee there.

After his experience, he decided that he wanted to start up AIESEC in Laos as he believed that young people in Laos should have the same opportunity to enjoy these experiences through AIESEC and be more connected to the world. Since then, he applied to be the Expansions manager of Laos and has been there since 2013.

This is my favorite story because it showed me the wide-ranging opportunities AIESEC provides and where you can take your own AIESEC experience. So long as you decide to do it, and commit to the opportunity, anything can happen. Also, it shows AIESEC Australia's contribution to our global network. Now, young people in Laos can also have the opportunity to enjoy the experience of our programs.

Any tips for someone considering an AIESEC Australia program?

Mei: I would give this same tip that I received back in 2011, which helped me decide about going on an AIESEC exchange. If you are thinking about joining the AIESEC Australia program, just sign up and commit yourself to it.

We always make excuses for ourselves such as "but I haven't decided what to do over summer" or "I might be visiting my friends in...".

The best thing I did for myself was to go home that night, sit myself down and sign up for an AIESEC exchange program. Not only did it help me decide what to do for my summer, it really allowed me to see the world from a different perspective and through the experience, gain so much more confidence in everything that I do.