Sunday, August 21, 2011

Forever AIESEC


So there I was last night, downloading my emails on my Mac at Kuala Lumpur's international airport just before boarding my flight back to Manila. I was surfing at the same time so I hadn't noticed what was going into my In Box; and when I next looked, there were probably at least a hundred messages from people all over the world who'd been part of AIESEC Philippines at one point or another, and they were sharing stories and memories of their AIESEC years online.

I've been traveling so much in the past years that I haven't really kept track of AIESEC or AIESEC friends; but over the weekend, someone from AIESEC UP had added me to the group and so suddenly I was getting all these messages.

The AIESEC experience is truly unique, and for many of us who "majored in AIESEC" in college, it shaped our lives, created our destinies and helped us form lifelong friendships. Lots of people think that AIESEC was just one big college party organization because, boy, did we have parties. We had parties on the local level (such as an AIESEC Ateneo party), on the regional level (such as an AIESEC party for member schools in Metro Manila), on a national level (AIESEC Philippines), Asian level (AIESEC Asia Pacific) and international level.

CULTURE SHOCK

The international parties that were an integral part of AIESEC's many international congresses somewhere in the world were pretty amazing events, although the culture might take some getting used to; and I still remember getting the shock of my life attending my first AIESEC international congress in Boston, with about 700 people from over 85 countries in one venue. It was like jumping into a plenary session of the United Nations except that I was only in college and I had a relatively sheltered Ateneo education.

But parties aside, we all learned a lot. You might say we had a headstart on the business world and real world way before many other students started even thinking about life after college. We were constantly organizing and attending seminars that focused on management and entrepreneurship, and we were putting these skills to test via the management of projects that made use of real resources and meant serious business; and we were also regularly in contact with senior government officials and the top management of companies that supported AIESEC. And then, as now, AIESEC was supported by many of the biggest companies in the world.

SERIOUS BUSINESS

One of the main businesses of AIESEC was the facilitation of thousands of traineeships for college students all over the world each year. This was serious business involving almost every major company in the world, and in my time, we actually did this via an IBM main frame that was painstakingly set up by IBM (one of our earliest supporters) in our international congress venue somewhere in the world, and via folders with the applications of hundreds of students from our respective schools and countries. The main frame, by the way, takes up an entire room or even series of rooms; and I'm sure the traineeship matching process is so much easier now.

I still remember how at the Boston International Congress I'd shopped around for a traineeship for my college best friend by walking around the booths of different countries looking for an internship vacancy that had not yet been inputted into the mainframe -- so technically it was available for manual matching. I found one with IBM via AIESEC Canada and she did go on to take this internship!

AT THE CENTRAL BANK
WITH ANTHONY PANGILINAN

So, the entire night, I've been reading and laughing about memories being shared by so many AIESEC friends I haven't seen in ages. And I'm reposting some of them here. Someone even posted a photo of Anthony Pangilinan (AIESEC Philippines President and then AIESEC International President), one of the world's most famous AIESECers perhaps, and myself, paying a courtesy call on the Central Bank governor then. In those days we were forever visiting government officials and the CEOs of top corporations to enlist their continued support for AIESEC.

Blast from the past

I was in charge of AIESEC Philippines Public Relations then; and after college, I went on to join AIESEC International as the Regional Development Officer for Asia-Pacific -- one of the best jobs in the world, as far as I was concerned.

YOU ARE AN AIESECer IF...

"...security guards at the NAIA arrivals area recognize you."
(That's because we were constantly picking up trainees from overseas, arriving for their internships in the Philippines.)
- Koytoy Alonso Gueco

"...you know more than one Pangilinan."
- Peter Angliongto

"...if AIESEC seemed like your major in college, and you real course seemed like your minor or extra-curricular activity."
- Ilsa Reyes

"...if you can toast to "O, so svingen wir pa seidelen igien, hay skal!"
- Michael Rodriguez

"...you take exams earlier than your classmates because you have to attend an AIESEC International Congress. And you still end up in the Dean's List."
- Mylene Abiva

"...you have a different AIESEC t-shirt from every international conference you go to."
- Leslie Ordinario

"...you have to worry about succession planning at such a young age."
- Catherine Ocariz

"...you're mistaken for a tour guide since you spend most weekends with trainees at the national museum."
- Karen Birrey

"...you presented the AIESEC traineeship program to at least one company before your next class."
- Gladys Morales Judan

"...your network can beat the numbers in Facebook."
- Francis Santos

"...you become knowledgeable about drinks in every part of the world."
- Francis Santos

"...when you take the phrase "work hard and party harder" seriously."
- Oryx Prieto

"...if you have friends in every country you visit."
- Matthew Resurrecion

"At the Asia Pacific Congress in Seoul in 1984, I was queued up to use the photocopier behind this absolutely stunning European lady. I then asked her: "You finished?" She goes: "No, Danish."
- Joseph Pangilinan

"...if you've had at least one "international fling." It's the essence of AIESEC: going global."
- Gary Ramos

"...if you know the African love song by heart."
- Coysie Margallo-Tan Gana

"You're going to another conference and your mom asks you: "Where are you going?" And you just reply: "Bacolod for NPM. And then I'm gonna catch a flight to Ceby for NLDS, then Bohol as post tour. Be back in a week or so..."
- Edith Joyce Orquia Sagarai

"...if you work best when you're managing multiple priorities and tasks."
- Elcee Asuncion Villa

"...if you learned to drink beer at an AIESEC party because there was no water available."
- Peaches Reyes

"...if you know funny words in ten different languages."
- Judd Willis Vitente

"...if you know that a trip to Lolo's is not about somebody's grandfather."
- Ma. Victoria Ferro

"...when you've never taken marketing classes before, but you know more than some who have."
- Michael Fua

And, just reading everyone's posts in the AIESEC forum, I think you're an AIESECer if you know the meaning of the word "sukebe" and use it liberally in Facebook posts. All in good fun. From all of us at Travelife Magazine, best wishes for a wonderful week ahead -- wherever in the world you happen to be.



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