23 November 2008

One more year in Norway?

I decided to apply to MCP (President) of AIESEC in Norway. Basically this means if people elect me, I will stay one more year in the country, leading AIESEC. I've been thinking a lot of things about it, for example, why I want to do that. There are lots of arguments, but the most important is that I believe a lot in the organization, its role in society and how I can take advantage of it while also support other people. Why I believe that? Well, there are lots of reasons also, most of then pretty related to my experience and development so far, but here's an example of why my eyes shine when I am working in AIESEC (from the AIESEC International blog):

Story from the Gulf
from Annika

Today was an incredible day here in Qatar.

As I sat in the closing plenary of the 2nd ever Gulf Conference, I looked around me and saw 75 AIESEC members from Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, and Iran. Within the membership of these countries, about 20 countries of origin were represented -- from Somali and Sudan, to Iraq and Syria, from India and Bangladesh, to Saudi and Jordan.

A little less than a year ago the Gulf Conference was born, by two visionary MCPs in the Bahrain and Qatar who wanted to have a conference in Qatar but couldn't because of cultural and legal restrictions. Thus the first Gulf conference was held in Bahrain in February, with representatives of Bahrain, Qatar and Oman and members had the chance to discuss what kind of AIESEC they would like to see in the Gulf.

Here in the Gulf, student run organizations are completely unheard of here as young people are not expected to be able to take care of themselves and are given no real responsibility. It is unusual that nationals and expatriate people are working together on the same level, discussing the future of a region that impacts both of their futures.

Everyday, LCs face challenging ethical questions: will we be able to attract companies or other Gulf nationals if part of the leadership is Indian, or Sri Lankan? Will everyone feel comfortable being part of a training where both males and females are present? How will a shy new female member work in a team with males as she has never spoken to a male in her life expect her father and her brothers?

This is special conference. There are no AIESEC dances at this conference, definitely no alcohol, there aren't many guys and girls hugging but there is a spirit and desire for development and change that is incredible. You can hear loud and clear the voices of young people who want to develop, to contribute to a sustainable future of AIESEC in the Gulf.

Not only did these members stand up saying they believe in AIESEC, companies, organizations finally stepped forward to say Yes we support AIESEC. Companies like Qatar Petroleum, the Qatar Businessman's Association, Unilever, PwC, Salam International, BNP Paribas participated and talked about how amazed they were by the scale of the conference and the professionalism. Sheikh Faisal, the second most important man in the country of Qatar gave the opening speech talking about the importance of youth and his support for AIESEC, afterwards inviting all the AIESEC members to his musuem, where we spent a wonderful evening seeing ancient pieces of art, fossils, clothing, cars, carpets and much more before being invited to a wonderful dinner. At the end of the night the Sheikh stood up and addressed the students, talking about his experience growing up and how he had to try and fail many times before getting it right. I wish you could all be there to see the looks on the members faces as he talked about what an important experience AIESEC would provide them.

And that's not to mention the media who will help spread the amazing work of AIESEC here.

Now it's time to run with the momentum created by the event to really bring to life Qatar and the rest of the Gulf countries.

A huge huge recognition goes out to Petra Chovancova, the MCP of Qatar who has pushed hard to make this conference happen and not to accept the belief that it's just not possible in Qatar. Also to Monaem, the MENA ER manager who worked intensively with the OC and the VP ERs in the Gulf to raise partners for the event, and Driss who has been working on bringing back members to AIESEC here and training them to understand and love exchange. Also congratulate David from Oman for doing a great job managing the agenda.

From a happy MENA Director

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