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 Scott Ye, of AIESEC in Australia, and find out more about his journey in Taiwan!
A small act of anything goes a long way – this is one of the many lessons my volunteering exchange in Taiwan taught me. The project I participated in was a Global Volunteer experience in Taiwan, that involved organizing three different English camps for primary and junior school children. It involved working with over 10 other volunteers from all over the world, along with Taiwanese AIESECers, in order to communicate to local youth the importance of the English language and the outside world.
Ever since birth, I’ve never stayed in one place for more than three years, always leaving my friends behind, but never because I wanted to. From a young age, I’ve always wished to settle down in one place and also questioned, from time to time, what value lies within interacting with people I knew I would never see again. Fortunately, by the time of my exchange, I had a solid group of friends from high school and a familiar network in university after my first year. I had forgotten the feeling of departure, and I wanted to keep it that way.
That is why during the first week of my AIESEC project, when hosting the first camp, I kept my distance. I didn’t want to develop bonds with people that I would later have to say goodbye to. This was my mindset throughout the camp, up until I got my sugar cubes – sticky notes with messages that everyone at camp wrote to each other to express gratitude and appreciation. I remember going through the small stack of paper, thinking to myself that I was never going to see anyone in that conference again. But there was one particular message that said: I want to be just like you when I grow up and it was the thing that gave me the greatest sense of achievement.
In hindsight, it was the catalyst for my passion to empower others. At the time I wasn’t aware of this change, and I just went on to prepare the next camp. But something about me was different – I was more proactive, I spoke up more, did more, and wanted to do more for the kids. I gave more, danced with more energy and created more joyful moments for everyone around me. And the more I gave to people, the more they gave back.
One of the most memorable moments was one of my team members thanking me for everything I had taught her. It was oddly inspirational, having someone older than you saying that, but the entire experience at the second camp gave me more motivation to make the third one the best one yet. I gave even more, and sure enough, I received more.
I grew more courageous throughout my exchange, and even though it was slowly changing me, it’s only in retrospect that I can pinpoint what it helped me realize. It was the fact that, in life, you will always have to leave, but it is your choice whether you leave with nothing or you leave with a change. You should cherish every moment to make an impact, and believe me, a small step won’t make a big difference, but it could lead to one. This is what motivates me to take more action and do more nowadays.
I’ve made a change in Taiwan with my small steps and efforts, and the people there have changed me in return, leaving me with captured moments and captured hearts. It is these memories that others have given me, that I want to share with you. Because I want to leave a change in you with this story, just like how a sugar cube I got during an AIESEC exchange has left a change in me.
So.. what are you waiting for?0