Last Updated on by Lohanna Reis
Many young people currently want to do an exchange and others want to do voluntary work. What if I told you that you can do both at the same time? Yes you can and here you will find out how!
With AIESEC, you can combine the useful with the pleasant. Here I will explain my experience as a volunteer in Suez, Egypt, and give you some tips on how to make this experience useful for your professional life as well.
About the Institution
AIESEC is the largest international organization entirely managed by young people in the world and they are present in more than 110 countries with the objective of developing leadership through 6 values: Demonstrate Integrity, Pursue Excellence, Activate leadership, Enjoy Participating, Live diversity and Act Sustainably.
The organization believes that young people are the key to the future, so it was created in 1948 after the second war, as one of the solutions to avoid similar conflicts from multiculturalism and with the objective of achieving peace and fulfilling human potential. .
Exchanges are carried out by young volunteers who can work in various areas such as administration, marketing, finance or social causes such as hunger, female empowerment, abandoned animals, etc.
It is worth remembering that here I am talking about the “Global Volunteer” project. There is also the project “Global Teacher” and “Global Talent” that have different projects, even for working abroad receiving a salary that can vary from country to country and between positions as well.
How did I find out?
As I said at the beginning, I was a volunteer exchange student in Suez, Egypt. My interest arose when a college colleague put the opportunities in the college group, so I got in touch to receive more details about the Black Friday promotion as discounts are always welcome 😀
Although AIESEC is a non-profit institution, the exchanges have a fee that is used for the maintenance of the organization, its offices, as well as some costs of your program – such as accommodation for example – in addition, you will have to pay for your ticket and health insurance.
So out of several countries that were presented to me, I decided to choose Egypt. After that, I needed to choose the project I would work on, so I chose one in the area of economics and tourism called “Enhancing the Egyptian Economic Growth” which aims to improve the Egyptian economy through tourism.
It is important to say that the prerequisites and duration for each program vary and in general, the main requirement is to be between 18 and 30 years old.
How to Choose a Country and a Project
There are many countries and projects, so you can end up getting confused and undecided about which one to choose, but I have already separated some tips for you.
If you want to get the most out of your stay abroad, I recommend that you choose a country with a language that you like, study or already speak, the differential in the curriculum is notorious, here’s the tip!
In my case, as a student of International Relations at that time, I was always very interested in geopolitics and countries in the Middle East and North Africa called “Arab world” – with the exception of Turkey, Iran and Israel, for example, which are of other ethnicities.
Because of this, I chose Egypt, which has Arabic as its official language and which was part of my region of interest in college, but at the office and with the AIESEC members I always communicated in English, a very important language for those who want to volunteer. .
In the case of the project, I based myself on the same fundamentals, so that I could take advantage of this experience in my professional area as well, as the institution offers certificates at the end of the work! 😀
During my project to improve the Egyptian economy through tourism, at AIESEC Suez, I was the sole representative of Brazil and responsible for creating media and conducting interviews with foreigners in the cities we visited (and which were included in the project fee).
In short, my duty was to accompany the team on trips to the places most likely to receive tourists in the country, take great photos and videos to literally advertise Egypt.
The interviews, on the other hand, had the objective of receiving feedback on the experience of tourists in these cities so that we could make a list of qualities and defects to be improved so that the trip of future tourists is better.
At the end of the 12 weeks of the project – in my case –, all the material collected is sent to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism so that they can disseminate our media abroad, attracting possible visitors, and so that possible measures can be taken so that the traveler’s experience is the best it can be. 😀
Stay by AIESEC
The stay in the chosen country will depend on which project you basically chose.
My project had accommodation included, but it was quite an adventure! I signed the exchange contract well in advance, 1 year to be exact, so I started getting in touch with the president and other members of the Suez administration very early on.
I, particularly, when I go to another country, I like to live like a native. So I always told the volunteer members that I would really like to stay with a family during the project, since the other option was to share an apartment with other young volunteers from the same project, but from other countries.
The problem is that the vacancies for homestays were very few and it was not known if there would be a vacancy for me… even so I always insisted, because it was something very important for me as I wanted to immerse myself in the Arabic language and culture and Egyptian cuisine.
When I arrived at the airport and a volunteer member picked me up in Cairo and took me to Suez I thought I was going to one of those apartments, but without telling me anything he took me to the home of one of the volunteers from the Suez administration who literally decided take me home at the last minute. I exploded with joy!
Finally, I stayed 3 months with wonderful people who treated me like I was a member of the family. I had a father, mother, brothers, sisters, little nephews, it was a joy! And whenever I needed to travel for work, they blessed me and on the way back I was welcomed with open arms and with delicious food! 😀
Staying with a native family certainly increases the level of cultural and linguistic immersion, in addition to the human connections that end up happening on this path.
It’s nice to say that if you’d like to host a global volunteer, you can too! See more information here. You can check the AIESEC website of your country and look for: “Host a Volunteer”.
Well, after this article you are ready to put into practice your desire to do an exchange program together with international volunteer work!
I assure you that – in my experience – with AIESEC you will have support from your home country to your destination country. You will be safe in the chosen country and I am sure you will live unique moments.
The cultural exchange was of paramount importance for my personal growth and the development of various social skills. I developed more empathy, more respect and gained more practical experience of what it is like to live and work in a multicultural environment, because in addition to my host family I worked with people of different nationalities.
In the end I spoke English, Arabic, Portuguese (with Mozambicans), Spanish and even a few words in Hindi I learned! A complete language salad hahaha. It was an extremely enriching experience culturally and linguistically.
Working in a group, I improved my skills on how to deal with each person according to their culture and personality, I improved the ability to do tasks together and I developed the leadership skills mentioned at the beginning of the article, which are the focus of the institution.
To make your life easier, here’s a step-by-step guide for you to prepare:
- Plan yourself financially;
- Search for projects that interest you here;
- Apply for a vacancy and AIESEC will contact you;
- Search for airline tickets to your chosen destination;
- Search for good health insurance;
- Get your passport and visa for the country (if necessary);
- Write down your emergency contacts on a paper;
- Check all documentation before boarding;
- Upon arrival, note the local emergency numbers;
- Make the most of your stay!
Planning your next trip?
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