Photo above - AIESEC US delegation at International Congress 2014 in Taiwan
Essay provided by Natalie Rodgers, 2014 Local Committee President for AIESEC Austin and recipient of the JoAnn Boland International Scholarship.
I am Natalie Rodgers, the current Local Committee President of AIESEC in Austin. This summer I attended our Summer National Conference in Charlotte, NC. That conference was a great start to the month of August and primed me to have an open and growth mindset. A particular high point of the conference though was at Gala Night when the AIESEC Life representative got on stage to announce the JoAnn Boland Scholarship recipients and my name was called. I couldn’t stop beaming for the whole night. This meant that I would be able to attend International Congress in Taiwan, which would begin almost immediately following the national conference. It meant that I would get to spend the entire month doing something that I love with people that I love surrounding myself with. The international travel didn’t hurt either – it was actually one of my first times abroad, which made the trip extra exciting.
I arrived to Taiwan with an open mind that was curious and ready to experience new things, but not completely sure what to expect. I hoped to connect with different entities to establish LC to LC partnerships to ensure higher quality exchange experiences for all of our stakeholders, to meet lots of people, and also to have a good time. We started getting into the conference and soon had our first country meeting. It was always fun to talk with the LCP’s of that country and hear how they operate and what they view as the role that AIESEC in the United States can play in the global network. After hearing each other’s realities, we were able to align our supply and demand and start meaningful partnerships. We also had some very interesting sessions where we talked about the future of our exchange programs and possible ways to innovate them to fit the needs of society and our students. It made me excited to see how adaptable AIESEC is and how all of us students really can have a great impact with the input we give. In addition to the conference itself, we got to experience a lot of Taiwanese culture. There were authentic Taiwanese dinners and a traditional Taiwanese night market with great food and performers, which was a real treat.
I came out of this conference with much more than I anticipated. Not only did I coordinate some partnerships and learn about strategy on a global scale, I gained true friends and a great experience that I can carry with me forever. The month of August taught me to truly open myself up – not just in theory, but in practice. I opened myself to new cultures, new ideas, new beliefs, new people, and new possibilities. I thought I was fairly self-aware before, but now I think I have a much better understanding of who I am, what I want to do, what I believe in, what I have the ability to accomplish. I learned to put more trust in people and I learned how to embrace the now and to embrace change. Because I am more self-aware, I have become better at articulating my vision – and one that has evolved into something that reflects my role, my responsibility, and my passion for my world. It is one that is larger than myself and it motivates me to follow my dreams and continue pushing myself in AIESEC.
AIESEC has undoubtedly given me exactly the platform I was craving to develop and challenge myself. All the people that I have met and experiences that I have had, have led to even more opportunities. With each opportunity you take, three more pop up. I am excited to continue in AIESEC to see how much I can gain from it and how much I can contribute to create more experiences like mine. My LCP term ends with the end of the year and I can’t wait to share my experience, knowledge, and support to ensure that my LC is sustainable and growing. In the future I hope to explore how I can contribute more on the national and international levels – maybe on a national support team, maybe as a trainer, and maybe on an MC or even AI someday. But all I know for sure is that I will stick to one principle: seek opportunity and seize opportunity.
Contact Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org