IN FIRST PERSON Spending a few days in a foreign land along with elders, orphans and the mentally challenged helped me grow…
I was doing my B.Com. (Corporate and Secretaryship) in Loyola College Chennai when I joined AIESEC in August 2007. This was not a planned decision, I just happened to join a group of friends who were in the process of recruitment.
My initial role was in the corporate sector (handling corporate relations) but in November 2008 I signed up for an internship based in Poland. This was based in Kielce with an organisation called Arkanadzei. I had to work with homeless elderly people and orphans, and mentally and physically challenged students.
I lived with these people in their shelter and spoke to them about India and its culture since this was a cultural exchange project. Strange to say, I found that people there knew more about Gandhiji than I did. In fact I was able to clarify some of my doubts about the Father of our Nation. They knew more about what he did for the nation than what today's Indians know.
The knowledge about Gandhiji amongst not only the older men but also the youth of Poland was very vast. I was amazed that a country like Poland actually took time to teach their students about the Mahatma, unlike in our country where we just remember his name.
Moreover this experience taught me to understand and recognise the disparity between the operating systems in Poland and India. In Poland, even the unemployed are given wages to cover their basic needs and necessities while in India, even though funds are provided by the government they are not channelised effectively. Even though a large number of empowerment programs have been conducted in India, they have not had any effect on the people. In Poland the funds provided by the government are utilised for the benefit of the unemployed and the homeless. The empowerment programmes are effectively provided and the government isn't concerned about the money but only cares for the health and safety of its people. This made me realise the differences in the systems of India and Poland
Field trips and more...
I also taught students of I and II grades spoken English and told them about India. To make things livelier for them, I organised field trips for them. I even taught them Hindi, and they started writing their names in Hindi. These students were affectionate and enjoyed sitting through my classes which helped me work harder just to see the smiles on their faces. They were enthusiastic to learn the language from me.
Another part of my internship involved assisting mentally and physically challenged people with their daily activities. This facilitated interactive sessions between them that helped them open up.
During my stay in Poland, I took a part in conferences, seminars, carnivals and in whole host of activities for the underprivileged and weaker sections of society. All these were organised by Barka, a Polish NGO.
Apart from the work, I met trainees from all over the world. This not only gave me an insight into different cultures but also opened up prospective opportunities all over the world. I stayed with the other interns in the shelter and they helped me adjust to the situation, they were very helpful and made me feel at home along with the AIESECer's in Poland. They supported me in every possible way and I was able to adjust perfectly.
Post internship, I have grown as an individual. I am able to work and act sustainably and adjust to circumstances given to me. It has made a difference to my role in AIESEC as well. I was selected as Vice President for Corporate Relations for 2009 and this helped me link up with a number of companies. I have now been elected as the president of the Local Chapter. This trip has changed my perspective of life and I have learnt to manage my time effectively and efficiently. I am able to understand people in this organisation and am able to sort out any problems or issues they have as I am able to put myself in their shoes as I probably already have lived the experience and know how to resolve the issue. I am able to become both the formal and informal leader for the members of this organisation.
Advyit is a student of B.Com. (Corporate and Secretaryship) at Loyola College, Chennai
Advyit is a student just like you. Would you like to have an experience like him?
AIESEC is a student run, non-political, not for profit organization which provides a platform for the youth to develop their leadership potential.
AIESEC is present in over 110 countries and has over 35,000 members. Being backed by the United Nations in many of their exchange programmes, AIESEC has benefited the lives of many students and people through their exchange programmes. It provides the students of Chennai with an opportunity to go on an internship and change their lives.
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