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:
- Corruption and abuse of power
- Taking people for granted
- Considering others as unintelligent or subordinate
- Universal freedoms
- 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.