Conference in Sousse

Last week I attended the opening day of AIESEC Tunisia’s National Conference in Sousse. For those who aren’t familiar with AIESEC, it is a global, student-based non-profit organization that is present in over 100 countries. The foundation of AIESEC is its international work exchange program – which I am currently participating in!

AIESEC has in some shape or form been a part of my life for the past 5 years, first as a two-year leadership position in college and then as the vehicle for an internship in Turkey and now in Tunisia. Attending opening sessions was very much a trip down memory lane and brought back some great memories of attending crazy AIESEC conferences in college. The first day was focused on the Revolution and how it has impacted Tunisia and the organization. We were divided into small groups and given large sheets of paper and a sharpie. The first task was to answer when, where, who, how and why.

Here’s the bullet-point list our group created in answer to why it happened:

AGAINST

  • Corruption and abuse of power
  • Taking people for granted
  • Considering others as unintelligent or subordinate
  • Censorship
  • Dictatorship

FOR

  • Universal freedoms
  • Democracy
  • Dignity
  • Equality
  • Transparency
  • The existence of multiple parties
  • A representative government
  • A positive brand of Tunisia

 We then did a brainstorming activity to identify some opportunities and threats to the organization in moving forward. It was a special and positive experience for me to spend the day in a room with fifty of this country’s future leaders engaged in constructive, unbridled conversation… and I’m happy to have made some new friends!

I snuck away for a few hours in the afternoon to see the marina and beach of Sousse – a city which I would characterize as a mini Las Vegas because of its big hotels and famous nightclubs. I missed out on the glamour though and found myself sharing a nice, long walk on the beach with a handful of retired European couples. It’s comforting to know that some tourists are still coming here but it was nevertheless eerie walking the lifeless streets of Tunisia’s big tourist destination.

I spent the night/next morning partying with AIESECers at the hotel, slept for two hours, ate a quick breakfast and said my goodbyes, then took a louage back to Sfax and back to the teaching grind.

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2 Responses to Conference in Sousse

  1. Todd says:

    Excellent commentary and a thoughtful process. It must be amazing for these folks to get together and discuss these types of things. The “Against” list is one that could be used in any country today I think as it represents all things we generally don’t see until it’s too late.

    You’ve come to some conclusions that sound all too familiar in the forming of our own country. I hope they find the same success in helping to form whatever government comes next as it will be theirs.

    • Brittany says:

      Thanks Uncle Todd and I completely agree with you that the future is theirs to shape! My friend joked with me the other day that Tunisians used to spend 10 hours a day talking about football and now they are spending 10 hours a day talking about politics! The famous “degage” has turned into “je m’engage” – from disengage (to old party members) to engage (to the Tunisian people). Everyone is taking part in political discussion and I think setting a great example for other countries to follow.

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