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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M AIESEC facilitates international experiences

Students+during+a+volunteer+opportunity+in+the+Philippines+during+the+Summer+of+2016
Photo by Courtesy

Students during a volunteer opportunity in the Philippines during the Summer of 2016

Each year, a group of students from Texas A&M sends Aggies across the world for culturally-minded, leadership-focused service opportunities.
AIESEC is an international organization focussed on connecting young people with internships and volunteer experiences around the globe. This semester they are working with partners in Argentina and Romania to provide more opportunities for A&M students.
According to industrial engineering senior and president of the organization’s Texas A&M branch Kellie Harris, AIESEC’s efforts in Aggieland focus on building leadership skills, both for students going abroad and for those who help send them there.
“It’s a not-for-profit run by youth, so students, usually college students between the age of 18 to 30, and we’re in over 127 countries and territories,” Harris said. “We’re based out of local committees in universities, so we have ours here at AIESEC Texas A&M and we’re one of 40 here in the United States. Our biggest deal is leadership development, so doing leadership development for the students that want to be a part of the organization, but also doing that through exchanges.”
AIESEC Texas A&M has sent students on exchange programs in a wide variety of nations and also works to build partnerships for future exchanges in Argentina and Romania, according to Harris.  
“In the past, we’ve sent people to Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines, Indonesia and China,” Harris said. “Currently we’re focusing on opportunities with partnerships we’ve established in Argentina, Salta, Argentina, specifically. And then out of Romania as well.
Harris said AIESEC’s exchange opportunities are guided by the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, with the A&M branch mostly focussed on the areas of quality education and partnerships for the goals.
“As for what [students] do there, for AIESEC we focus our opportunities around the sustainable development goals established by the UN,” Harris said. “For us, we decided that the sustainable development goals for quality education and for partnerships for the goals we thought would have a bigger impact for students here at A&M … For the partnership for the goals, that’s mostly focused around working for the not-for-profits that these opportunities are focused around and helping them with their sustainability and having a greater presence in the communities that they’re trying to help.” 

History sophomore and A&M AIESEC Vice President of Exchange Julianna Cantu said her time working with AIESEC and interacting with students from other AIESEC branches has been a positive educational experience and she hopes to share it with others in the future.
“I went to my first national conference this December and just seeing the impact that it had on other people who are within AIESEC really was eye opening and I just want every one of our members to experience what we have experienced and what other people in AIESEC have experienced as well,” Cantu said.
As a member of AIESEC, international studies senior Janecia Jones spent time sending students on various volunteer excursions before participating in her own AIESEC service opportunity in China during the summer of 2015.
“I was already going to go on a study abroad because it was required for my major in China,” Jones said. “And so this was another way to just kind of stay out there and also do AIESEC, the other side of AIESEC that I hadn’t seen. The one I’ve been promoting the whole time.”
During her time abroad, Jones said she was involved in English language education within the Shanghai community.
“I was teaching English in various community centers throughout Shanghai,” Jones said. “Most of them were older, retired people who had more time to just do stuff. Some of them were young kids, depending on the class and they were all different levels. Some of them, I was playing games or teaching them grammar. Some of them I was just communicating just as a means of cultural understanding between each other.”
According to Jones, the perspective gained by volunteering abroad will remain useful throughout each student’s future life and career.
“Go out there and see the world,” Jones said. “Understanding is important, because if you want to be successful, you’re going to be working with different types of people so it’s just a way to do it and explore the world.”

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