Steering change and forging meaning through youth leadership

International Congress 2015, Gurgaon India

Claire Wang, LCP of AIESEC in Seattle

Thanks to the Boland scholarship, I had the privilege to attend the AIESEC International Congress of 2015 in India. IC 2015 is not only the best conference so far in my AIESEC journey, but also a humbling experience to meet and converse with youth leaders from over 125 countries and territories under the same roof.

My first key learning from IC 2015 is my refreshed understanding of AIESEC. I used to see AIESEC just as a youth organization that develops leadership through our membership and exchange programs. After IC, I see AIESEC as a mindset, a belief that every single AIESECer will carry and share within their communities throughout their life-long journey. AIESEC indeed is planting the seed of leadership for its members. When I conversed with many other LCPs, MC VPs, and MCPs, our AIESEC stories were always challenging, stressful, chaotic yet rewarding. I started to realize how AIESEC has really been facilitating the inner and outer journey for every AIESECer to get closer to a leader that is self-aware, solution-oriented, and empowers others. The problem is, a lot of us AIESECers have been viewing AIESEC as a program we go through during a few years of our university and post-university years. As a matter of fact, we shall never stop our leadership journey after the end of our status as a member. “Don’t let AIESEC be the best part of your life”, I will always remember this piece of advice from Vishen, the founder of MindValley and a proud AIESEC alumnus. AIESEC will become the best youth leadership development platform only if we continue the AIESEC mindset and take actions to shape our future around something that drives positive impact to the world, whatever that means to each individual AIESECer.

My second key learning is the AIESEC 2020 Dreaming Process – a story I will share with future generations of AIESECers even 50 years from now. 2015 is a special year for AIESEC as we reach the finishing line of the AIESEC 2015 goals and set the ambitions as an organization for the next five years. As Generation 2015, the blue army has achieved 136,404 exchanges globally compared to 35,867 from Generation 2010. This became a reminder for us to dream way bigger than our current capacity for AIESEC 2020. The dreaming process took us three days with thoughts and discussions among over 800 delegates from the Global Plenary. By the end of the second day, we had reflected the history of AIESEC, the global trend from 2010 to 2015, and our personal growth in the past five years, and shaped our pictures of what AIESEC will become in 2020. I was extremely privileged to be one of the 20 delegates on the final 2020 creation team. As a team, we reviewed the final 7 statements voted by all IC delegates and spent another entire day to repeat the process of identifying keywords, clarifying the meanings of certain wordings from the delegates, feed-backing the team, and creating draft sentences. Eventually, we were proud to see the excitement from the Global Plenary about the final 2020 statements, “We are a youth leadership movement that is shaping what we do around what the world needs, growing disruptively and accessible to everyone everywhere”. I learnt from this dreaming process, that different is different. Every AIESECer may bring a different perspective on what AIESEC should be according to their local reality. But ultimately, it is an amazing fact that we as AIESECers around the world were able to come up with a shared ambition for 2020 that will drive every entity to further its impact in society. I am proud to be an AIESECer because as Gen2015, we were brave enough at IC to steer change and forge meaning through youth leadership and create a dream that is absolutely bigger than ourselves.

As the action steps after IC2015, I hope to transfer my knowledge of AIESEC’s core value proposition (including the refreshed AIESEC Way and the Leadership Development Model) and the creation process of AIESEC 2020 back to AIESEC in the US. I believe that the clarity of why should be explained and refreshed continuously to every member in the US so that their reasons of staying in AIESEC and promoting AIESEC to other stakeholders are clear and leadership-centric. I will be hosting webinars for all the LCPs in the US for them to grasp the core of IC 2015 outputs. They will then share this learning and the movement of 2020 with their local chapters. On the local level, as LCP of AIESEC Seattle, I will start to implement the refreshed AIESEC Way and the Leadership Development Model to our recruitment process, the coaching strategies for members and team leaders, as well as how we engage with exchange participants and professionals. By the end of my LCP term in December, I hope to shape the culture of achievement at my LC and the organizational centricity as leadership to every stakeholder of AIESEC Seattle.

Moving forward, despite ending my LCP term soon in December, I still hope to complete a few more things on my AIESEC bucket list. I plan to apply for more facilitator positions for national and international conferences, join national support body as a consultant role, and of course go experience an AIESEC exchange. Perhaps the third one has been my biggest regret so far. I hope to give back to the organization what I have learnt so far, especially in 2015 during my LCP term. At the same time, I envision myself to be an AIESEC alumnus with a comprehensive AIESEC experience to truly understand the value and purpose of AIESEC.

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