AIESEC is an international student organisation which helps facilitate student exchanges worldwide. Each year over 450 students are sent from the UK alone, about 20 of these are from Southampton University. AIESEC believes that through the exchange programs students learn to become leaders. This article has been written by one of our EPs (Exchange Participants) about her experience this summer in the Ukraine.
“Last Easter I was matched on an exchange program with a children’s summer school in the Ukraine on an Development Traineeship (DT). I was excited by the program as it would be by the sea and I enjoy working with children. My host AIESEC team were AIESEC Dontesk. The committee members met me at the airport, when I arrived in the Ukraine this summer, and I was grateful for the warm and welcoming reception. For about a week before my DT I was able to travel around Donetsk. It is a beautiful, green city. I had fun visiting the Donbass Arena, the stadium for EURO 2012 and made lots of friends, from the Ukraine and other countries too.
The first camp I worked on was right by the Sea of Azov, it was amazing. My task was to teach English to thirteen children and to immerse them in the British culture. I was provided with an activity book which helped me to plan sessions and also taught me things about the UK. As I was a team leader I was also responsible for the day-to-day life of the children at camp. I had to help break up fights and keep the peace, by the end of camp we were like a family, the campers and counsellors too.
Between my first and second camp I celebrated my 21st birthday which was great, I was so touched when my host made me a cake. My second camp was by the Black Sea. I was with a Taiwanese girl and at this camp we were expected to teach English to the whole camp which was over 100 children! This time we were given no materials to work with so we concentrated on teaching 20 – 30 words a day. Although it was tough it was so nice to receive gifts from the children (such as flowers or shells) and in the evening when songs were dedicated to us at the disco we really felt appreciated and that we were making a difference, especially when we were greeted by “Hellos” around camp. We were always included in the evening activities after the campers went to sleep and always had a great time.
At the end of my stay in Ukraine, I was deeply in love with that country. Furthermore, I’ve learned a lot from that experience, such as leadership, initiative, active-learning and problem-solving. I feel I’ve really grown up.”
If anyone would be interested in taking part in an exchange such as the one Ellen did, or any of our other exchanges (we offer development, educational, management and technical) please get in touch with our Vice President of Exchange Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org, come along to one of our introductory meetings, Monday at 6:30pm, Building 2 Room 2043 and you can join our group on Facebook to be kept up-to-date with everything AIESEC related. Oh and, look out for our Blue Man around campus….