Curious to see what an exchange experience is actually about? What adventures expect you when you decide to step outside of your comfort zone? If yes, check out the story of Katia Jordan, and find out more about her volunteering experience with AIESEC in Sri Lanka!
My name is Katia Jordan, I’m originally from Lausanne, Switzerland and I went to Sri Lanka, an island nation south of India, for 6 weeks between July and August 2017 to participate in a volunteering experience.
About the project
Our program was all about helping disabled people. During a normal working day, we had to engage with and take care of both adults and children. Our main job was to communicate with and entertain them, as they’re unfortunately not properly integrated in the society. We had to plan suitable activities, like painting, dancing or handcrafting, as well as make sure we behave with great attention and affection.
Discoveries and learnings
My experience showed me that every human deserves to be known, even if they are a little different. Actually, they deserve to be known precisely because they are different. Once we let go of our fears and judgments, we can see how amazing they truly are, even if we don’t speak the same language. I didn’t know how to act at the beginning, but in time, I learnt we’re the same and saw I shouldn’t behave any differently.
One day, as I came to the center, one resident ran towards me, hugged me and smiled, fascinated by my blond hair. He was so happy we came that he couldn’t speak, but I understood him and knew we had had an impact on him.
My international team
While in Sri Lanka, I met two incredible girls. We spent all of our time together – at work but also during our little trips and, as we all lived together, I ended up spending the entire six weeks with them. We got along perfectly. I didn’t know anybody when I arrieved, and neither did they, so we formed a strong team.
What’s more, I got to meet people from all around the world, especially in the Global Village. The friends I made were so important because we helped each other and, in the end, we ended up being a family: supporting and having fun with each other.
It was so intense to go away for so long all by myself, doing something totally new that changed me so much. All in all, it was such an extraordinary experience that I’ll remember all my life. I had to be more spontaneous, more confident and more courageous and I know that, somehow, this made me be different – better.7