Last year, Natalia Kuyumllian, a 20 year old Commercialization student, went on a professional exchange to Brazil through the NGO AIESEC Bs As, organization in which she currently takes part as a volunteer. Today she tells us about her experience.
AIESEC is the international platform for university students and recent graduates who look to become agents of change and generate a positive impact on society. Based on the concept of global learning and seeking personal as well as professional development, the NGO gives 10000 members each year the challenging opportunity of living and working in another country. Natalia found AIESEC almost by mistake, looking for a job on an employment website. However, she decided to apply, got in and shortly after was granted her desired internship at a non-profit organization in Brazil: ACAO MORADIA.
Why did you decide to go on an exchange? What motivated you?
I have wanted to go on an exchange ever since high school. I liked the idea of finding myself alone in a different country, getting to know other cultures, speaking another language and find out about other lifestyles.
What type of job and tasks did you do?
I worked in marketing consulting. The ONG of which I was part was dedicated to teaching a trade to low-income people and helping them create their own micro-enterprises and we did the consulting for the latter. I worked with a Colombian girl with whom I also lived and together we developed an improvement project on both production and promotion for these micro-enterprises.
What was the biggest cultural shock?
I don’t know if I had such a big cultural shock; we have a lot in common with Brazil. The fact that the family with whom I was staying was Buddhist was something I learnt a lot from. I spent Christmas with them and it was definitely strange, but yet amazing. I think spending the holidays there was the most “shocking” thing.
What insight did this trip leave you?
A lot! I had the good fortune of not only getting to know Brazilians, but people from all over Latin-America. I learnt that it doesn’t matter if we live thousands of miles away, have different ways and celebrate in a different matter. There is a common pattern, and that is that we are all human. We feel, we are passionate and surprised about the same things. We may all express it in a different way, but there was no way you could not feel identified with any of the people you met and you could always learn something from one another. I finished my trip feeling Brazilian, but also feeling a lot of respect and admiration for countries like Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela because I learnt a lot from them and now have great affection for their Ambassadors (my friends over there).
What would you recommend youths who are about to start their internship?
If you already know what country you are going to, start researching things about it, make contact with the committee that is going to receive you there and start getting to know them. Plan your trip with extra days so that you can travel and get to know other regions, not just the one you are going to be living in. And to those who still don’t know where they’re going, research the countries that are available to you, think of what each one can give you and which attract you the most. Make contact with other youths who are currently away or who have already returned so that they can give you some useful tips. They are people who have already been through this and are full of recommendation that can come in handy.
What would you tell youths to convince them to dare to leave and live a great experience?
I’d tell them what I always say in the informative talks: it is the best way to change your lives, to grow as people and professionals. Your vision becomes a lot more global and you contribute to make others’ the same too. It is an experience that rocks your very foundations and changes your life forever, with new friends, new families and new homes.
This was Natalia’s experience. If you want to challenge yourself, get to know other cultures, put the knowledge you learnt at school into practice and overcome your limits, do not hesitate to contact AIESEC. A unique experience awaits you.
Por more information, visit their website or get in touch through email.