The entire process - being approved as an exchange participant and shown the ropes of searching for a job on the database - flew by with ease as fellow students from the university helped me along. It was like being introduced into an entirely new world. Here were students in charge of the local office of an international organization spanning 110 countries, getting the opportunity to travel and apply their academic knowledge in the “real world”.
I eagerly began to search for work terms in many different regions of the globe: Brazil and Argentina, Egypt and Morocco, China and India, Greece and Ukraine, to name a few. I also received numerous invitations from various AIESEC chapters all over the world. One of these was for a project called “Myself, My World 2009” in Kocaeli, Izmit, Turkey. Right away, I knew I should go! It had never crossed my mind to trek to this area of the planet and I hadn’t any idea of when I would get the opportunity again.
The entire experience now seems so surreal. It was my first time travelling alone, as well as my first time flying by myself. Living in Turkey for 3 months and making new friends with the local AIESECers was, in my opinion, the best way to travel.
In total, there were 15 interns from close to 15 different countries for the project in our city alone. I had the opportunity to meet several hundred others as the summer went on. The project that I worked on was classified by AIESEC as a development internship.
Myself, My World 2009 is an annual camp held for teenagers that seeks to develop and instil in them indispensable personal and professional skills all while broadening their world view. Thanks to the cultural diversity of the AIESECers present, we leveraged our individual cultures and stories into country presentations, global villages and one-on-one time to benefit each other as well as the students participating in the camp.
Outside of work, local AIESEC members would take us on private tours of the city, introduce us to their friends and family, as well as organize special tours of Turkey for the interns.
The experiences I lived during my work exchange with AIESEC Kocaeli could fill hours of conversation and pages of text. Social media tools like Facebook allow me to stay in touch with many of my friends from there.
My experience created such a powerful change in my life. It gave me the opportunity to see the world from a new perspective and the opportunity to meet so many of tomorrow’s leaders. I decided to return to Canada and get further involved with my local chapter of AIESEC, to enable other young Canadians to expand their horizons by going on exchanges, as well as benefit from interns who come here to learn about our culture and share our country and traditions with them.
-Gianfranco Varriano (Turkey)