Asmaa Mangual, a student from Morocco, went on a Global Volunteer (one of AIESEC’s exchange products) in the summer of 2017, in Suez, Egypt. Here is her story!
It was in a class that I kept hearing a classmate talk about AIESEC. All. The. Time. He was an AIESEC member and one day I said, “Fine, I guess I can try this thing out!”
At the time, this classmate was always telling me about going on exchange in Egypt and somehow, it caught my interest. This also caught me by surprise as I am someone who hates going out of their comfort zone. Throughout my time in university, I always managed to stay with the people I know and those who are closest to me so I never opened myself to new experiences or any situation that put me in a challenge. Mainly, I had little intention to talk or get to know other people.
A big part of why I applied is curiosity. Curiosity about AIESEC. I applied to be a member and got rejected once, so I wanted to see for myself what these people really do.
So that day, I logged onto aiesec.org and created an account. I decided to apply to a project contributing to SDG4: Quality Education because I wanted to make a tangible impact. Little did I know this one click is going to impact ME so much on my journey to impact others…
I went ahead and let my parents know of my decision to travel got approved by AIESEC in Egypt in less than a week. And so the adventure of my first exchange begins!
The Importance of Human Connection
During my project in Egypt, I got to truly experience the world in a different way and learned so much from the people around me. I got to make connections with people I never thought I would make connections with.
My project was not perfect but one of the best parts was seeing the culture of AIESEC. It was all through the day-to-day interactions with AIESECers, seeing them do their meetings and the Global Village. I saw myself being a part of that.
The Need to Do More
After I came back, I realized there is still so much to improve and so many lives that can change other than mine. So I decided to give AIESEC another shot and apply for membership again. This time I knew why I deserved to join, I came with a different mindset. I had the experience, I know how the process goes and I lived the AIESEC values and leadership development qualities myself. I want other people to have the same experience.
Spoiler alert: I got accepted! I joined AIESEC in Morocco as a member of the outgoing exchange department.
Same Experience, A Whole Other Me
In 2018, I was a Team Leader and found myself with time to spare in the summer. I decided one exchange experience was not enough and why not use this time to get to know more people and make more impact?
So guess what happened again?
This time it was very different. Looking for opportunities through the eyes of an AIESECer was a whole different experience. I noticed that I had a lot of questions to ask and a new perspective when choosing what project I want to volunteer in.
I was amazed by the amount of knowledge and awareness that the teenagers in the project possessed. They were impressively mature and open-minded. We managed to find solutions together to problems relevant to their community and the SDGs. They had all the ideas and since this was not their first project with AIESEC, it showed how developed their way of thinking is and how relevant it is to their reality as well.
This gave me so much insight into how much long-term impact these short-term projects are having on youth and, subsequently, their community. It made me believe even more in our potential as a youth and how small actions add up to create truly astounding things.
Time To Take Action
After this experience, I came back to my Local Committee in Morocco with a bucket full of ideas and one of them was the Global Village. The Global Village is an event where the Exchange Participants present clothes, food, and customs from their country giving the people a glimpse into many cultures at once. Soon after, we implemented it in our next project and it was extremely successful as it helped to promote and support my entity and it is still being done till now!
As I was finishing my time as a Team Leader again, I attended a summit in Morocco. There, I managed to learn so much in so little time. It all stayed roaming around my mind after I went home and I knew I wanted another opportunity to go abroad. I started to think: why should my AIESEC journey stop here?
Talking about the coming story, everyone always asks me why I chose to go to that place. However, the fact is I did not choose the place, I simply chose the opportunity and it happened to be in a country called Jordan.
A Turn Of Events
As I was checking opportunities, I stumbled upon Jordan. The more I researched the more I felt the desire to go and make a change for the people there and AIESEC in Jordan as a whole. I applied then for becoming Member Committee Vice President of Incoming Exchange and sometime later, I got the acceptance. There was a small plot twist: it was not for the position I applied for.
It was for the Talent Management position instead and to say I was shocked was an understatement. I have no background in this so what am I supposed to do?
I decided to learn as much as I can in the time that I had until I start. And so I did. Conferences, academies, people and more. I used every resource I had to get the proper apprehension of Talent Management then I saw how knowledge means nothing without innovation. It was upon me to use all of it and execute it using my own ideas and vision.
The Person I Am Now
Now I can say I am fulfilling my goal. Each and every day I wake up with the intention of making change no matter how small. The Asmaa who went to Egypt on her first exchange is not the Asmaa responsible for Talent Management and Organizational Development at AIESEC in Jordan now.
Getting out of your comfort zone makes you know yourself, know your capacity and what you can do. It makes you self aware.
Why are we always recommending people to go on exchange? Because you don’t know yourself until you are out of your comfort zone, and you don’t know what you are capable of until you experience it. In a lot of environments, people may tell you that you cannot do something. So in AIESEC we defy this by enabling youth to develop their leadership through learning from practical experiences in challenging environments. That could be in the small day to day things, from workshops and meetings up to big projects.
It not only gives you chances to know new cultures and new people. It also allows you to take something back home and share it in your community, changing the people around you in return.
This is how I became the person I am today. Aware of myself and what I am capable of. So if you want to truly know yourself, understand and live your personal values and explore your passions then all you need to do is click ‘Apply’ on aiesec.org like I did my first time and simply be self aware with AIESEC.