Internship changed her life

Mar 21, 2002, vol. 23, no. 6
By Julie Ovenell-Carter

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Four years ago, Silvina Nesi had never heard of AIESEC, the world's largest student-run international educational exchange program.

“All I knew of the world was one small village in my country of Argentina. Then my oldest brother went on an AIESEC internship to the United States, and it changed my life and my family's life forever. It gave us a whole different perspective.”

Today, Nesi herself is an AIESEC intern, helping to coordinate the field school program at SFU for five months.

Inspired by her brother's stories of “other ways of living and other ways of working,” Nesi herself joined AIESEC in 1999 while studying business at the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Buenos Aires, one of 740 universities (including SFU) in 84 countries involved in the program.

AIESEC, formerly known as the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, was established in France after the Second World War to help university students develop into “responsible, adaptable and culturally sensitive leaders [who will] contribute to the development of society with an overriding commitment to international cooperation and understanding.”

AIESEC members participate in a variety of local and international activities to promote tolerance, leadership, and social responsibility. They develop their management and marketing skills by finding local job placements for AIESEC interns from other countries.

By securing placements for international AIESEC members in their own community, local chapters earn the right to send one of their members abroad for a two- to 18-month internship.

Nesi, who served as president of her local chapter, left Argentina in January, just as the economic riots were peaking. She was welcomed at the airport by a dozen flag-waving SFU-AIESEC members who she describes as “my family in Canada.”

What has impressed her most since her arrival are the very things she thinks most Canadians take for granted: “the order, the safety, the way the government takes care of people with disabilities, the rights for women, the way they take care of the environment. Recycling. Here, I learned for the first time how to recycle. Eventually, I will take all that knowledge back to my own country.”

But Nesi is not ready to return home soon. She hopes to work next in Spain. And before she leaves SFU, she will make several presentations to the campus community to promote an understanding of Argentina's culture and politics.

“Working with internationalism has changed me a lot,” she says. “I used to want to work for a big company, but now I want to work for an NGO (non-governmental organization). I want to do things for people. AIESEC teaches young people to really be caring about people in other countries.”

For more information about AIESEC activities at SFU, visit check here or call (604) 291-4187.

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