So being as neat and as blunt as could be, I’d like to share my experience of everything which was and everything which could have been during my term as a member of AIESEC, and more importantly, of AIESEC Hyderabad (please do not expect ground shaking levels of inspiration from this article, as I have not been able to move mountains).
In February 2008, I got recruited, without the slightest of realizations of what I have gotten myself into, and without the slightest of ideas about what I’m going to do with it either. I would like to disclose the fact that I was mighty confident of myself when I saw the application form, but shrunk when I saw the competition. I missed my first day of the Local Training Seminar, and when I arrived on the second day, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of familiarity everyone showed for each other. An awkward day it was, as I was still trying to make acquaintances and everyone else was already to the stage of being chipmunk pals. It was rather dull, keeping in mind the fact that 40, nineteen year olds were screaming and dancing when they saw 10 suited up people do the same.
Stuff I Realized here (SIR): *People wearing suits don’t look very good when they dance. *Shouting out the most random war cries (roll calls) doesn’t necessarily have to be embarrassing. *You don’t need to know EVERYTHING about something to conclude it’s not harmful for you.
I’d like to believe that I had a very uneventful and boring first quarter of a year in AIESEC, only because I DID have one. This was basically the time when I was more interested to look interested rather than genuinely being. I guess I only stuck on, because I found a few people whom you can envisage, and more so because I had nothing better to do. And also, I never wanted to leave without giving myself a chance in AIESEC.
SIR: *When you have nothing better to do, even doing something new, which is equivalent to nothing, seems interesting.
And a matter of chance it was, when I got onto an organizing team, 3 – 4 months after I got recruited. I always wanted to see how things went about in AIESEC and being part of an organizing team for an event was the best bet. This was the first time I actually started to understand what we do, and more importantly, I started doing what we do. Tons of funny/not so funny experiences, but some other day.
SIR:*When things don’t go your way, they just don’t, no matter what! *There is always a way out.
First time that I was leading a team, in fact, first time I was leading anything. I did nothing great, or out of the ordinary, neither did I expect myself to do so, nor did anyone else. But I did start to realize that for me, or if I may talk on behalf of a lot of people who were with me, that this was the stage where I began to understand this organization very intricately. Now I did mention before that there was this time when I learnt what we do in this organization, now was the time when I started realizing WHY we do what we do. This is, according to me, a very important question to ponder upon. And the best part of this is, after you reach certain level of understanding and comprehension for this organization, you are bound to tread paths with this question.
SIR: *A leader comes in all sizes (true). *It is very easy to give up. *People who ask too many questions are painful, if you don’t know the answers.
Then, I was more or less satisfied with whatever I had done in AIESEC, and it was pretty much the time for me to hang my boots, but I think one of the most devious diseases which a lot of AIESECer’s suffer from, got onto me, Ambition. I was good enough to get selected, I was good enough to not get thrown out, I was good enough to be a part of a team which executed a decent enough recruitment program, and I seemed good enough to not get killed by a bunch of new/fresh kids when you give them inspiring (read: not-so-inspiring) speeches. Now I wanted to see how far I can be good enough. This led to only one thing. And I did it, again because of a lot of reasons, predominantly because again, I had nothing better to do, and also because I was suffering from the disease I mentioned before.
SIR: *People need to be more careful about what they ask for, especially me. *Sometimes it’s better to shut up.
Surprise Surprise! A couple of weeks into December, transitions in the leadership body of the local committee leads to a new Local Committee President being elected, and I become a Vice President! Too big a position for too little a person actually (quite literally), but nonetheless, I managed to get myself into something I had no anticipation about. There were 10 other Vice Presidents along, to dilute the position and dampen the experience, but we’ll just have live with what we get.
Now to talk about all the details of what I did as a Vice President would be awkward, long and probably boring, but still, there are few highlights which are seriously worth mentioning.
I fortunately was able to handle a portfolio which I could very heavily brag about, and oh how much did I do that! I, along with my co-VP (told you we were a lot), and a huge team, was supposed to associate AIESEC with all the huge corporate names you see partnered with. And this probably gave me a very strong sense of understanding of how the organization works, in relation to a real world corporate entity. And that was one substantial learning I have been able to gather in AIESEC . Apart from this, my portfolio allowed me to start feeling comfortable in formal clothing, and to ask for free coffee whenever I can.
Now, as a part of being a “VP”, we had to delegate, facilitate and manage Local Training Seminars and Conferences. And that, is something fulfilling I must say. Ever felt like Superman (only difference being that everyone knows who you are, and you don’t have a set of tights inside your clothes)? That is how the feeling runs through when a bunch of loud and jumpy people scream and cheer for whatever you do. And the funny part of this is, most of the times, they don’t even know what or who they are cheering for. But then, Superman doesn’t really mind that. J
The only other thing worth mentioning through this term was being part of a team. Now, from the time I’ve gotten recruited, I have always been in some or the other team and it will be so for everyone, because that’s how it is. But being a part of a team with 10 other hooligans, all of whom are very tall, ugly, smelly and hairy, and are very much capable of crushing you like a fly with their left palm, is not something you’d honestly expect. There were lots of times when I wanted to take a handgun and shoot the brains out of one (and more than one most of the times) or the other person I was along with. And I’m very sure the feeling was very much mutual. But with everything said and done, and not said and not done, I was surprisingly able to cruise through the year without breaking any jaws, or getting my own jaws broken.
Apart from this, my term as a “VP” (still sounds posh eh?) also gave me a very strong sense of responsibility. Responsibility in every sense of it. I knew for a fact that whatever the organization would be on course of the year, and would end up shaping to be by the end of the year, would be as much my accountability as it could possibly be. And the best part of being responsible for something is that you end up having sense of indomitable ownership for that. AIESEC started being as much a part of me, as I started being a part of it. I had mentioned before that it’s important to question why you do whatever it is that you do. And it goes the same here too. I started realizing that it’s not only the members or the people associated with the organization who ponder upon reasons for their part or existence in this organization, but also the organization itself ponders upon such questions. And this HAS to be the one startling fact about this place for me. Reminds me of those long conversations I used to have with people about all these things. About what we do, about how we do whatever it is that we do, and about why we do whatever it is that we do.
SIR: *Life could be simpler, but then, it wouldn’t be even half as fun. *People bigger and stronger than you are not very intimidating when you know where to pinch them. * 11 boys in 1 room smell bad.
And this was probably the end of the road for me in AIESEC, and even it was not, I chose for it to be. Not because I was cured of the disease, but because of reasons I still have not been able to identify.
It is rightly said by Gregory David Roberts, that “You only start to realize how much you love something, when you start taking it out of you.” And that holds to be true for me I guess. And even though I have not been able to move mountains (the feeling of being a Superman is just a feeling by the way), the last two years personally were in very short,
Evolutionary and Revolutionary.