Why the world needs cross-cultural education

I speak for purposeful education and cross-cultural dialogue.

Now it is popular to say that we are living in the 21st century which is full of different technologies and media. In some of the countries it is easy to get access to the internet but yet we still have a poor knowledge about the world in which we live, despite all of these new technologies.

I love that I’m working in AIESEC — an  organisation that breaks cultural stereotypes and barriers.

I started to think more and more about the lack of the open information when I was preparing for myAIESEC internship in Indonesia. The first thing that I have discovered is that most people get to know other countries through traveling during vacations. It is sad that some people think that Bali is a separate country, not the one of many Indonesian islands. They don’t know about beautiful Indonesia itself, which is full of traditions, culture and history.

I was a lucky child. At the age of 22 I have been to 23 countries and I really got to know that our world is full of stereotypes. And of course I knew how many people had funny things to stereotype about Russia.

But let’s go deeper into the roots. Why are we lacking good relationships between countries? I believe that people were born the same, with the same rights and opportunities. Why should we hate each other? We are all living in the same place — our amazing planet Earth.

Sometimes people are lacking information and mass media plays a bad game with it.

I think that a lot of you heard about what happened between Russia and Ukraine this spring. At exactly the same time I was volunteering in Indonesia and telling stories about my country to the school’s students. I was so far from my country but it was really painful to hear questions from the people: “Will you have a war soon?”.

Our country has a rich history, but it is full of wars and conflicts and at the same time full of great and world-famous artists and painters, musicians and scientists.

My great-granddad fought in the second World war. My mom and dad were just little kids when the war has started. My mum and dad gave birth to me in the messy 90’s in Russia, when it was hard to find any food and clothes because of the economic crisis.

Sometimes it seems to me that there was no generation in Russia that was not suffering from external wars and internal crises. I want to live happily and I want to live in my country, because I`m proud of it, of people here.

I do believe that cross-cultural understanding is the key and the fundamental thing to live in a peaceful world.

While we are striving to send people abroad and to show how much it’s worth to see the world and to love your country at the same time, we have lots of media writing weird things that support only the stereotypes. The opinions of media writers are not the opinion of every person in the country.

I speak up for the open cross-cultural dialog, because we were not born to hate each other. I believe that our world’s future depends on the human ability and willingness to collaborate with each other.

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Here’s a short story from my internship with AIESEC in Indonesia. While I was giving some lessons about Russia, I always started with the question — what do you know about my home country? I was lucky if I had 2–3 answers – something like Moscow is the capital, it is cold there and that was it. Meanwhile I’m not sure that kids would have been able to find it on a map. And I’m not blaming them. It just was not important for them.

As soon as I returned from the internship, I went to a Russian school in Saint Petersburg to tell the pupils about my internship. I was asking them: “Can you imagine that Indonesian children don`t know anything about Russia?” They were laughing. I wasn’t laughing at all. My next question was:  “So do you know the capital or anything about life in Indonesia?” Silence was an answer for me. Just a few guilty smiles because they didn’t know.

I’m not blaming them either. I didn’t know all this before going on the internship. So what is the aim of our educational systems in the world?

Only a small amount of students understand the importance of learning different languages and cultures, but soon it will be the only way to live because of globalization.

I wasn’t learning such things at school or in university. I’m thankful for my family for giving me such an opportunity and I’m happy that there are still so many countries to get to know.

Remember that you can only get completely trustworthy information from your personal experiences, not from the media. If you are lacking cross-cultural knowledge now — it is your time to go on exchange!

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As long as our educational systems are not providing the relevant knowledge and skills, I will speak up for the purposeful education and cross-cultural dialog in order to have a peaceful world.

Kate Trofimova, 22, Russia

Let your voice be heard and voice your opinion on how we can improve youth development in the #YouthSpeak survey!

Take the Global YouthSpeak survey: http://bit.ly/YSmovement

Matej, volunteer in Brazil

 

First classes in Talk project

Did you know that some Brazilian students speak English very fluently? Well, I was a little sceptic at first when I met local citizens. Rarely anybody knows basic English, from students to workers on bus stations or airport. But when our Talk project started, I began to meet very perspective people who have a good understanding of English language. In my and Mohamed’s class we have real variety of people. We have freshmen students in the beginning of their studies and careers, student that has been in more than 50 countries all over the world, than a self-employed marketer who sells T-shirts with modern graphic designs, a musician in his thirties, traveling the Brasilia, … and of course Slovenian scientist/musician/sportsman and Egyptian pilgrim/parachuting/TEDx organiser.

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At the beginning we had some problems with the organisation, but we resolved all the issues together with the great project manager Lara and our classes where great. In first meetings we got to know each other. We shared our life stories, talked about hobbies and discussed different views of the world. Some would think that it might be difficult to connect with people from such distant countries and different backgrounds, but the reality is far from this. Once everybody felt comfortable with each other, we started relating through story telling.

Traveling and hobbies are the easiest topics where we could talk through the whole class and we could have talked for hours more. After first classes we opened topics about health and education. I was really shocked about the situation. Of course everywhere the main problem is financing, but in Brazil the gap between having basic security and not having it is even bigger. One third of youth finishes high school and only 3% of people finish university, because of hard exams for entering university and bad education in high school. The privileged people can also afford to go to private schools, have better education and can easier enrol in university. You can also describe heath issues the same way. If you have money, you get treatment sooner and better, and if you don’t have it, you just don’t get basics covered. That’s why you see poor and sick people on the streets, children selling things to tourists and lower standard of living everywhere. After some classes I just had to take a minute to think about my luck in this world. Born in great country, with education, endless possibilities, traveling the world, … I truly am grateful for all that I have. 🙂

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Exploring the Island with Tampinha amigae

Did you know that morning sup peddling in sea is one of the most fun things to do? Well, if you have man’s best friend with you, it becomes a nice bonding moment. My host’s dog Snoopy and a beautiful cat Lizz are always fighting for my attention. It is so cute. Lizz is meowing, I pet her, Snoopy licks my hand, now I have my both hands full … what if another furry little friend comes along for cuddling? Love is everywhere in Brazil. 🙂

Evenings with all trainees are fun. Trying local caipirinhas with cachaça, comparing our languages, traditions, … but the funniest thing is when 3 Egyptian guys speak their language, in one corner you hear Spanish/Portuguese mix and Germans are always outnumbered with their harsh language. Cheers, nazdrovje, nazdravje, fesehetak, burraah, salute, salud, sáude, … But with all our differences and varieties of backgrounds we always create memorable moments full of laughter, ideas for new trips or we even share a tear.

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First week our group on Talk project hasn’t started with classes yet, so we had more time to explore and enjoy our beautiful island. Lots of other trainees had Friday free, so we went on Barra da Lagoa. Cloudy weather turned into a beautiful opportunity for new surfers to try something new. We rented all surfs in the shop and jumped on waves. Most of our tries were just a total disaster and funny for all of us. But splashing in the water for almost 2 hours gave us beautiful moments. Even just one good … rather decent stand on a surf gave me big boost of energy to keep going. When my hands couldn’t paddle any longer and propel me on the board, we call it a day. After my first experience on the waves I know I will definitely continue improving my surfing skills throughout this Brazilian journey. Lunch couldn’t get more typical than this: rice, beans, some salad and fried fish … and of course caipirinha. Afternoon was just continuation of good vibes from the morning. Playing volleyball and football (here called futchyball), building sand castles like little kids and just enjoying good energy around us almost makes you believe life couldn’t be more perfect at that moment.

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Saturday 15th of August was a day for hiking. With our tour guide from California (lives and loves Floripa) we met in Lagoa and headed in the forests of this beautiful island. On 2 hours long hike we saw beautiful landscape, remote beaches and made new friendships. Lunch hour was closing and we treated ourselves with variety of seafood dishes. Crabs, shrimps, fish, … fried, steamed, grilled or just raw. We tried the whole menu! After that we had a quick walk to the near waterfall where we took nice photos and got refreshing pit stop (yes, the bravest took a swim in the cold river). For a walk back to the city we were a little too tired so we took a boat. From there we observed gorgeous sunset on the lake of Lagoa.

Arrival

Did you know that when you travel from Europe to Brazil, you have to pick up the luggage in São Paulo or Rio and do the whole check-in in Brazil?

 

Well, I didn’t, so my clothes and shoes stayed in São Paulo while I was waiting for them in Florianopolis. Yes, my first adventure wasn’t really the best. But the evening sushi with Flavia and Rhaiza was the best. =)

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Then came 3 days of calls to the airports and I finally got everything back on Sunday. In between, I was sup-ing on the sea, trying to surf, eating local avocados, bananas and coconuts.

 

 

From that point on, the fun part of this adventure has officially started. I met Mustafa  in the centre and we immediately started exploring the city. The other trainees were on the other side of the town, so the only way was to go across Morro da Cruz. Beautiful view of the city awaits for us while we were hiking the “favelas” of Floripa.

 

 

Meeting so many people in one place is just amazing. Egypt, Japan, Germany, Germany, Germany (yes, we have a loooot of Germans), Spain, Italy, … all so friendly, they welcome you in their circle. Just riding the bus can be also one big experience. We emideately became friends with American girl who lives and LOVES Floripa (short for Florianopolis) and found our official hiking tourist guide for the next weekend. To end up the evening we embraced the beautiful Lagoa and ate delicious traditional Brasilian burger.

 

Eventhough the bus rides here are really long, writing this first blog wasn’t done quickly. Bumpy roads and crazy fast drivers makes typing a whole new skill that I have to master. I can’t wait for the next adventure. 🙂

10 Top Skills You Develop in AIESEC

In this short article we are introducing 10 most important skills that an AIESECer learns during his or her time in this wonderful organization, besides everything else that comes together as a part of a self-development process.

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10. One of the first skills you develop in AIESEC is problem solving. The environment where AIESECers work is challenging. Overcoming those challenges requires critical thinking and effective problem solving skills. We learn how to solve the problems by using innovative approach and relentless work ethic. By exposing to challenges we tend to change our way of thinking and in one year period AIESEC-ers gain so much experience, comparing to normal student environment are exposed to larger amount of challenges than they would be  and by that becomes more productive, inspired and happy. Those people will be prepared for the future because they know how to overcome the challenges; with other people’s help we are most efficient.

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9. Networking Skills. It’s all about collaboration between individuals and groups in different functional areas, and this collaboration on micro level enables that AIESEC works as an organization. Networking helps us gain connections to people who know what we are searching for. So it is very important to gain networking skills to find the solution of the problems, establish collaborative environment or merely because networking is fun and feels good. 🙂 Knowing a person from Moldova who wants to build his own faculty or the Russian girl who’s communication skills exceed almost anyone’s are just two examples how networking can help us be better as individuals and as a organisation.

 

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8. Strategic thinking. When AIESEC gives you a challenge, you have to solve it the best way you can – at first you solve it by providing the solution, but later you become aware of it and start to think how you can reach the goals more effectively and efficiently at the same time. That’s when you learn how to use tactics, how to negotiate, how to get what you want, you search for logical solutions of your problem – and that is how you develop strategic thinking.7_10skills

7. Collaboration. In AIESEC everybody learns how to cooperate; that is a necessary skill because groups, which work in different functional areas, otherwise would’t have worked. Collaborative work improves people in many ways, some of them are awareness, motivation participation, reciprocity, reflection and engagement. AIESEC attracts collaborative work, because there is less pressure for people and they can help each other and reach their goals faster.6_10skills

6. Co-creation and Brainstorming. There is no feeling like the feeling of success and pure joy when you see the actual results of your hard work. And greater things require larger amount of people. One person cannot do things that ten people can. However, brainstorming is a very popular way to find a solution for a certain problem on a meetings; everybody’s opinion is valued and the best solutions sometimes come totally unexpected.

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5. Project Management. AIESEC wants to shape a better future by promoting leadership. Even though a person is more comfortable with the role of a follower rather than a leader, everybody becomes more courageous with time and ready to take some responsibilities. AIESEC shows you how much more you can actually do and you start expecting more from yourself.

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4. Relationship building. When you come to AIESEC, you meet a lot of new people. You learn how to introduce yourself and even if you are an extremely shy person, soon you realize people have accepted you, because AIESECers are bonded with same values and goals and appreciate diversity. Once you are part of this international community, you know you are part of something big and that there’s a lot of people out there who share the same values as you do. And I can guarantee that’s a very comforting and satisfying feeling. Soon you will have many international connections.

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3. Ability to see the big picture. AIESEC helps put situations into perspective. We are all focusing on our goals and we all want to achieve great results. AIESECers work relentlessly in a fast pace environment to achieve the goals on time. But always focus on the bigger picture which determines the success of the projects. Striving towards greatness. Not everything goes the way we plan it. That is also true at AIESEC. This experience helps to prepare people to re-think the strategies and improve their perspective on solving the challenges of a project.

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2. Cultural sensitivity. AIESEC is a cultural highway. AIESECers are exposed to various people from all around the world. People who come from different cultural backgrounds are flock in the community. Connecting with them will expose you to their culture and their experience. Amazing and interesting stories from people around the world are common case in the AIESEC culture. We can see that the more people we meet, the bigger our world gets. Fun stories, cultural differences, knowledge and experiences define every individual and in AIESEC this is even more apparent since we are present in 126 countries and territories.

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1. The most important thing is how we see ourselves and how can we show others. Public speaking represents a skill which enables us to communicate with audience. All of us started at the beginning, nobody was born without the fear of public speaking. Even those who seem to be so relaxed on stage and just know how and what to say. AIESEC gives a great opportunity for transition from a starter to a pro. Drawing the line between these two helps put the problems into perspective and helps solve them. Like with all things, it is easier to start with small challenges rather than big ones, therefore and first you introduce presentations to a small group of people in your functional area first. When you feel confident in front of a small crowd, you can move to a bigger audience. Of course, one thing that really helps you here is the fact that in AIESEC no one is going to bite you or make fun of you, if you start trembling in front of the crowd. When you see that people are responding well to what you say, you quickly get more confident. You will notice fear starting to get smaller and smaller.

 

Do you think you could improve on any of skills mentioned above? Join us on: http://aiesec.si/students/future-leaders

Charie Hebdo Paris

Living Diversity for World Peace

The World’s Very Real Need for Cultural Understanding

AIESEC emerged from a period in time when cultural understanding was at an all-time low. In the years following the Second World War, the whole of the European continent was ravaged to the ground. Each nation was coping with its own grave losses, and between all countries there was tremendous disconnect. Not only was there pressure to educate and create individuals capable of rebuilding their countries, there was also the very real need to repair damaged European relations.

Looking at the world today, one can’t help but notice striking similarities. Devastation, turmoil, anger, despair—none of these are strangers to us, even though it has been seventy years since the end of what is dubbed the deadliest conflict in human history.

Furthermore, what the world suffers from today is not the disconnection within a continent, but rather, the tensions within an entire planet. We suffer today from disconnect between continents, between nations, within countries, within communities. We are suffering from differences in ideology, in religion, and in culture. And it is becoming abundantly clear that such differences can have fatal consequences.

“Solidarity” (Source: ABC News)

In the first week of January, the world was deeply shaken by the Charlie Hebdo shooting that occurred in Paris—an event that has resulted in global repercussions for numerous other nations. It has also drawn attention to a number of ongoing conflicts throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

In the days that followed, the world saw two categories of reactions: outbreaks of conflict and marches of solidarity.

In the week that followed the shootings, fifty-four anti-Muslim attacks were reported in France. Conflicts escalated in reaction to Charlie Hebdo’s resumed publication with the controversial cover—in Niger, violent protests resulted in the deaths of ten people, with dozens injured, and a number of churches burned. Similar protests also occurred in Pakistan and Algeria.

Stop Charlie Niger

Source: .usnews.com

Meanwhile, over 100,000 people in France took to the streets for candlelit vigils in demonstrations of solidarity. The slogan, “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie in French), became simultaneously an endorsement from freedom of speech and a way to honour the victims of the shooting. Similar vigils took place all over the globe in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, to name a few. In what officials called the largest public rally in France since World War II, up to two million people marched in a ‘unity rally’, joined by more than 40 world leaders.

Two weeks ago, a youth was stabbed to death in Dresden, Germany—a city that has been the hotbed for anti-immigrant and ‘anti-Islamisation’ movements by the organization PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West, in German). This, in turn, has resulted in numerous counter-demonstrations across the country against racism, calling for cultural acceptance and tolerance.

Dresden Germany Marches

Source: Slate.com

Looking at these stories, a ripple effect becomes clear—the current issues now are either recurring or ongoing reactions to other issues. The stories become convoluted into an overarching narrative of conflict. We must understand, however, that intolerance is equivalent to blindness. With cultural tensions on the rise, how are we to reconcile our differences?

What would the world be like if instead of differences, we choose to see similarities? Like the unity rally, which brought masses of people and a multitude of nations together—for the first time since the Second World War!—what would the world be like if we reveled in diversity, instead of seeking to destroy it?

We return again to the original mission of AIESEC: “to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time”. As stated in our “Why We Do What We Do” video, “When you see the world, you can begin to understand it. And when we understand it, we can begin to change it.”

It’s a big world out there, made up of many, many individuals—7 billion of them, to be exact. Here in AIESEC, one of our six core values is Living Diversity. We believe that everyone, because of their own culture and place in life, has something valuable to offer, and we seek to encourage the contribution of each individual.

Each and every one of us has a choice every day—will you choose peace?

Julia Bacha TEDx

TEDx talks that inspire a different perspective on World Peace

We live in a world where seemingly small things like intolerance and misunderstanding of people’s differences have caused large-scale conflict, destruction and even wars. World peace can seem like an impossible thing, but we at AIESEC interpret it a little differently. ‘Peace’ should not be interpreted necessarily as absence of a major war. ‘Peace’ symbolizes a world that does not have conflicts that arise from cultural, religious, or other aspects of differences in humanity.

In short, we need to learn how to respect and understand these differences as human beings.

We’ve pulled together a series of TED talks for you listen and watch to inspire new ways of thinking on the roadmap to peace.

In the Road to Peace playlist on TED, “these speakers offer inspired ideas, practical advice and real-world examples from around the globe of how it just might be attainable.”

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines advocates for society to have a more realistic vision of world peace. The talk focuses on rethinking world peace to human security, and enabling people to live dignified lives. Watch it here

Scilia Elworthy a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Oxford Research Group that seeks to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics, talks about how to deal with extreme violence without using force in return. Exploring the themes of how to overcome bullies ranging from countries to individuals without any violence in return. Watch it here

Julia Bacha a filmmaker who produced Budhrus discusses the power of attention, and how we often media and audiences pay attention to the violence, but not the non-violent leaders and peacemakers of the Middle East region that may very well bring peace to the region. Bacha advocates for us to pay attention to nonviolence. Watch it here

Progress will come, when all of humanity is awakened, moved to take action and not idly sit by to wait for change. We must be brave, but also patient in seeking cross-cultural understanding amongst people and nations.

What actions will you take to make yourself a better person and be the leader who can help make the world a better place?

One of the best ways to gain a new understanding of the world is to live, volunteer or work abroad. Learn more on how you can get involved in our student programmes that offer global experiences to create positive change in communities and on yourself.

5 things Millennials Care About the Most

We call them lazy and demanding. We judge them and find them narcissistic. However looking at raw data they are not so bad after all. Here are 5 things that millennials care about the most nowadays, according to the YouthSpeak survey powered by AIESEC.

1 . Gaining new skills

New gadgets, iPhones and tablets are not the only thing millennials care about. They are also eager to learn and experience more. Fifty percent of surveyed youth listed gaining new skills and abilities as their top priority. This indicates their awareness of the importance of soft and hard skills. They know that studying from books is not the only way of learning and more than 70% of the surveyed youth prefer to learn by doing and trying.

More than 50% of surveyed so far have chosen Team Management and Leadership as the skills they need to develop.

More than 50% of surveyed so far have chosen Team Management and Leadership as the skills they need to develop.

2. Finishing University

Nearly half of the surveyed young people are willing to finish their studies. There was some concern because last year’s education has been failing to help students in developing useful skills and preparing graduates for entering the job market, but on the other hand, millennials still have belief in education and are not giving up quickly.

Still more than half of surveyed youth perceives univerity degree as a way to reaching their full potential.

Still more than half of surveyed youth perceives a university degree as a way to reaching their full potential.

3. Travelling the world

Volunteering abroad, internships, scholarships, work and travel. These are only a few ways to experience and taste the world. Globalization means the world is shrinking and international experience is becoming a must-have in a resume of each millennial.

Above 45% of surveyed youth listed travelling the world as their top priority right now.

Above 45% of surveyed youth listed travelling the world as their top priority right now.

4. Making the world a better place

Millennial youth believe that the world can be changed and they know they can be the ones changing it. What has always been fascinating about this generation is that they are beyond ambitious and that they believe more in their capabilities than other generations.

Around 55% of surveyed youth believe that to change something, young people need to have broader understanding of the issues that the world is facing.

Around 55% of surveyed youth believe that to change something, young people need to have a broader understanding of the issues that the world is facing.

5. Starting their own business

Here’s to the entrepreneurial outlook. More than 20% of surveyed youth so far lists starting or growing own business as their top priority in life right now. Trends show that over the next 5 and 10 years more than 60% of youth want to become entrepreneurs. The increased demand for entrepreneurship may push employers to make their workplaces less structured, hierarchical and rigid to enable entrepreneurial talent to thrive.

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Fill in the YouthSpeak survey by November 30th to help us create data that speaks for young people with aims to align and find solutions to improve both education and employment. Over 17,000 youth voices have been heard, it’s your turn.

Complete the survey: Do it here
More Information: YouthSpeak Survey

AIESEC and United Nations Millennium Campaign Partnership

On Wednesday September 19, 2014 AIESEC and United Nations Millennium Campaign  signed a letter of Intent for collaboration. The letter was signed by Vinicius Tsugue, President of AIESEC International and Corinne Woods, Director of UN Millennium Campaign in New York City.

AIESEC was established in 1948 in order to achieve peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential through cross-cultural exchange. Currently AIESEC exists in 125 countries and territories developing young leaders around the world.

AIESEC and United Nations Millennium Campaign decided collaborate to strengthen the voices and actions of young people and engage AIESEC members in creating sustainable solutions through actions related to the Millennium Development Goals and in development and implementation of post-2015 global development agenda, such as through the MY World survey 2015 and the World We Want 2015 engagement platform.

Through its projects AIESEC will motivate tens of thousands of young people in taking targeted action and creating sustainable results within one year of the Millennium Development Goals deadline.

AIESEC recently launched YouthSpeak, a global youth insight survey across 125 countries and territories that aims to understand how to improve education and employment for young people so they can reach their fullest potential. Data will be shared with decision makers and youth so the information can raise awareness and educate people about youth opinion and pressing issues. Take Action now and take the YouthSpeak Survey.

Let your voice be heard!

Take the Youthspeak Survey

More on AIESEC
AIESEC: https://www.aiesec.org/

YouthSpeak: http://youthspeak.aiesec.org

YouthSpeak Survey: bit.ly/YouthSpeakSurvey

More on UNMC 

UNMC: http://www.endpoverty2015.org

Add your vote to MyWorld 2015 survey

See the MyWorld results at Worldwewant2015.org

 

For further inquiries on AIESEC and United Nations partnership please contact

Karolina Piotrowska, Global VP Public Relations at media@ai.aiesec.org