For those of you who are unfamiliar, my exchange in Malaysia is facilitated through AIESEC , a student-run organization focused on youth leadership development. As part of my exchange, I am also invited to participate in various AIESEC activities in Malaysia. One such event was the Local Leadership Development Seminar (LLDS) from June 7-9 in Port Dickson, Malaysia.
We arrived in Port Dickson around 3 pm on Friday. Soon after, we were led into a heavily air-conditioned room for icebreakers and our first conference activities. There were about 50 of us in total, including the conference organizers (OC) and AIESEC executives (EB). We started the conference with one of many dances that we will participate in over the next 2 days.
We were broken into groups that functioned as our “home room” for the duration of the conference. Each group’s theme was based on an AIESEC value. My group was “Enjoy Participation”, and our nickname was “Group FUNtastic!”
There were sessions about AIESEC values, negotiation, giving constructive feedback, selling yourself, and many more. A crowd favourite was a series entitled “dreams”. In the first part of this two-part series, we gathered in our home groups with dimmed lights and lit candles in the centre of the group. Under the glow of the candle, we wrote down 10 of our identities on small pieces of paper. I struggled with what to include. Writing down how I viewed myself seemed to be a big step in confirming my role in this world.
We were asked to reflect on these identities, and rip up 4 of the least important ones. We were asked to do this again and rip up 3 of our identities. It was relatively easy to remove the first 4, but tearing up the next 3 made me feel like I’m parting with a little bit of myself. If that wasn’t difficult enough, we had to remove another 2. As we removed our labels of “sister”, “friend” or “student”, we were forced to reflect on what is most important in our lives. Next came something unexpected. The facilitators asked us to tear up the last identity if it said anything other than our own name. Ralph (intern with our project) was the only person who had his name as his last identity. The rest of us were left with nothing at all. I was confused. The facilitators explained that the identities that we give ourselves represented the values we placed on ourselves. We value ourselves as a “friend”, “brother” or “musician” but we should also keep in mind the bigger picture, which is ourselves as a person. We should also spend time taking care of ourselves in addition to the world around us. At the end, each group blew out their candle together to symbolize rebirth.
As I mentioned, this was “dreams” part 1. The second part of the session involved us drawing out 3 of the most important dreams in our lives right now. Since these are dreams, we were unbounded by money, time, and ability. I found it interesting that I kept on coming back to the dream of working with food. I wrote down that I would like to open my own restaurant, but what I drew was myself leading a cooking class. This was something that I haven’t actually thought about for a long time, perhaps since I’ve entered dietetics at UBC. I feel like I’ve been trying to live “realistically”, searching for career paths that would give me a comfortable and enjoyable existence. Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling so restless and dissatisfied with dietetics lately. There’s also been a few other reasons as to why I’m feeling like I need to do something I really REALLY love. Then again, as I’m thinking and writing, I keep remembering that I do love dietetics as well. Oh the dilemma of choice!
Anyway, back to the conference. We also had case study and AIESEC stimulation competitions. These activities were clearly aimed to get new AIESEC members familiar with the organization and training them to be future ambassadors. I was surprised at how much time and effort the existing AIESEC execs spent to ensure new members understood what AIESEC did and can communicate different aspects of the organization to different audiences. The case study and stimulations were really engaging and well done, I think new members walked away from this weekend with a clearer idea of AIESEC and how to talk about it. Bottom line: innovative and fun training pays off for any organization.
On the last day of the conference, Mehak and I went to the beach in the morning.
Waves were crashing against a small seawall. There were a few people wading in the water. We spotted a coconut washed up on the beach and took some photos against the background of the Pacific.
Other favourite moments of LLDS:
- Showing affection for a stranger
- Murder mystery
- Group winning case study / stimulation
- Sugar cubes
- Dance, dance dance!