Exploring the world through AIESEC
Sometimes you just need to get out of your comfort zone to experience the world in a completely different way. It’s hard to imagine how local people in Kenya, for example, live their daily life or how you can make a positive impact in their lives. Anders Dalgaard Petersen had the opportunity to do just that through AIESEC at CBS. Working with a volunteer organization in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, Anders taught primary school children, first as a teacher’s assistant and later taking over his own class of about 60 students (in one crowded classroom!) as well as working in a local orphanage after school hours for 7 weeks.
Primary education in Kenya is free for all children, paid for by the government, meaning every child has the ability to go to school if their family allows. Unfortunately, there are children who, for various reasons, previously never went to school or who miss a lot of school days. Having the dilemma of whether
to place these children in terms of their age or their academic level was something Anders and his fellow interns wanted to address. One of the positive things about having some freedom in the program they volunteered with was to implement their own initiatives. Anders and his fellow teaching interns created a program for about 20 students who were lagging behind. They planned lessons for each child for two consecutive weeks and provided personalized tutoring every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon rather than having the child sit through regular classes with exercises that were too challenging. This helped the children catch up to a level at which they should be for their age, integrating them back into the academic system.
Outside of teaching, Anders helped at the local orphanage with a fundraising program that interns were conducting through Facebook to receive donations from their home country friends and family. After receiving $3000, they were able to buy desks and tables for the children to do homework on and eat meals, implement a clean water system so they no longer had to spend money on buying drinkable water as well as proper toilet drainage so that sewage no longer seeped down to the kitchen floor of the orphanage.
‘You face such different situations and difficulties which you would never think about back home. For example we wanted to take the children to the city to go up a tower for a view of Nairobi from above, but then realized how do you take a group of children with no shoes to a tower in the city?’ said Anders. But despite not having much, the children were always smiling and welcoming to foreigners. Much like kids in Denmark, they were always playing and loved playing football together after school.
Some of the cultural challenges that you learn to overcome and may even learn to love are bartering for everything you buy, from food to taxi rides and knowing that you have probably been ripped off once, twice or most times you have bought something. Traveling also becomes an experience by using matatus, which are vans filled with a probably unsafe amount of seats that you can hop onto on the street and quite possibly hang out of holding on for dear life if all the seats are full. If you’re lucky you can even get on a pimped out matatu with Bob Marley or disco themes. The food also takes some getting used to since most foods are very heavy and filling and consist of maize (which the children get sponsored for lunch at school), beans, meat and rice. But as Anders said, if he was offered some Chapati’s today (thick pancakes usually served with beans), he would not say no! The fresh fruit you can find from many street vendors everywhere is also a bonus!
There is also the social element of an internship abroad that makes it so much more enjoyable. One of the reasons Anders wanted to participate in an AIESEC exchange was not only to experience local life in Kenya first-hand, but also to meet other students from abroad to learn about their cultures. Living in an intern house with about 8-10 international people (as volunteers came and left), they also lived with a local ‘father’ who knew everything there was to know about the area; cooking for the interns as well. Receiving local advice and having friends to travel with allowed Anders to explore Kenya on the weekends, visiting Nairobi, Mombassa, the Masai tribe in their local area, an elephant orphanage, giraffe centre, an amazing safari, and even taking the opportunity to ride an ostrich (who knew you could do that!?).
Apart from internships in volunteering and with NGO’s, AIESEC also offers internships throughout the world in various business interests such as marketing, finance, IT and engineering. To find out more about participating in an AIESEC exchange or learning about available internships, feel free to contact the local CBS chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out their Facebook page here.