Organization aims to help youth discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society
BY RACHELLE COOPER
The U of G chapter of AIESEC, the world's largest international student organization, will host the provincial AIESEC conference Oct. 1 to 3. More than 100 students and recent graduates from the organization's 10 Ontario chapters will come to Guelph to participate in training sessions.
AIESEC is a global organization in 89 countries run entirely by university students and recent graduates, says local committee president Stephanie Hajer, a fourth-year B.Comm. student.
“AIESEC's purpose is to help youth discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society,” she says. “We achieve this by offering more than 350 conferences, 3,500 international internships and 5,000 leadership positions each year. The Ontario Regional Conference will play a key role in helping our new members learn about the opportunities AIESEC has to offer them.”
The U of G chapter is helping more students work abroad this year than any other Canadian AIESEC chapter. In 2004 alone, eight Guelph students will gain international work experience and AIESEC will bring four students to Guelph from other countries.
“The goal of the AIESEC exchange program is to give students international work experience,” says Darcy Belisle, a recent U of G MA graduate who will teach English at Silesian University in Karvina, Czech Republic, from October to June. “On their return to Canada, students have a competitive edge to get a job or to get into a graduate program.”
Belisle says he could easily have obtained a position teaching English in another country, but it would have been difficult to get something at the university level without going through the AIESEC program. He says his goal was to take a break from his studies for a while before applying to do a law degree or PhD.
“I've read a lot of post-colonial literature in the past five years, and I want to go out and experience the culture I've read about,” he says. “Also, PhD and law programs look highly on experience outside of academia.”
This summer, the Guelph AIESEC chapter sent B.Sc. student Jaana Kasitkainen to New Delhi, India, to work for a rural health-care clinic. Dan McCartney, a 2003 B.Sc. graduate, went to Bombay, India, to work with abused children in a hospital for UNICEF. Laura Little, a 2004 international development graduate, went to Bonn, Germany, to work in the finance department of Deutsche Post.
Most people who apply to AIESEC do so because they want to travel, says Evrim Sahin, an economics and public relations student from Izmir, Turkey, who arrived in Guelph this summer to work in the Guelph AIESEC office.
“By working abroad, you learn a lot more about the country than just travelling, and you can easily pick up the language,” says Sahin. “I think it's the best way to go abroad. I applied to the program to improve my work skills, gain insight into real business life and learn how to adapt to other cultures.”
Because AIESEC has branches all over the world, Guelph companies have the opportunity to obtain employees who will bring a broad international perspective, says Hajer.
Yip Seow Teng of Malaysia recently arrived in Guelph to work for Crompton and Co., Jens Heger of Germany began working in the Hospitality and Tourism Management office this month and Farrukh Gaffarov of Cyprus is a new web developer with the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.
AIESEC Canada has recently formed a partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to increase student exchange between Canada and developing countries. CIDA will give AIESEC Canada $600,000 over three years to help expand the AIESEC program. Part of this will be used to help students travel to Africa to work in fields related to HIV/AIDS.
For information about the U of G AIESEC chapter or the conference, visit www.uoguelph.ca/~aiesec.
University of Guelph | Guelph, Ontario, Canada
| N1G 2W1 | Tel: 519-824-4120
University of Guelph