“Empowering Young People for Peace and Fulfilment of Humankind’s Potential.”  
Today, let’s talk about AIESEC. I’ve always been intrigued about what AIESEC stands for. AIESEC was originally a French acronym for Association internationale des étudiants en sciences économiques et commerciales (International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Science).
Now we’ve got that sorted, let’s talk about what AIESEC is all about! AIESEC is certainly an admirable organisation, being the largest youth-run organisation in the world. It’s an international non-governmental not-for-profit organisation that provides young people with leadership development and cross-cultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe, with a focus to empower young people so they can make a positive impact on society. I was fortunate enough to have a good chat with Fraser MacLeod, the local committee president about AIESEC in the local community.

Could you tell me a little about what AIESEC Otago does in the local community? 

AIESEC is an international youth leadership movement, we provide young people in Dunedin with access to an international network so they can gain experience to improve their leadership qualities through cross-cultural exchanges, those being professional internships and the volunteer projects with NGOs around the world that are partnered with us. Hopefully in the future we can find partners in Dunedin to help create those exchange opportunities here for young people from around the world to participate in as well. 

So, in your opinion , what needs to change in Dunedin?

I’d say the mindset of people in Dunedin, and really NZ in general. We should all feel like we have a responsibility and the ability to change the world for the better: recognising our privilege and how we can use it to help others. We have a long history in NZ of being trendsetters, whether it was in the form of women’s suffrage or anti-nuclear activism, we want to make sure NZers remain leaders on the world stage!

What were your expectations coming into AIESEC Dunedin, and how have they changed?

Personally, when I signed up to go on exchange with AIESEC I was just looking for a cheap travel option, but after I worked as an assistant for teachers in Taiwan, I actually started to realise how much I cared about helping others, how much of an impact I could make, and how much people around the world actually have in common with one another. The boost in my confidence, in my desire to change the world and in my desire to help develop others motivated me to join AIESEC Otago after my exchange so I could help other people have the same experience.

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What keeps you motivated?

What always motivates me is the sense of responsibility I feel towards other people. For example, the volunteering I do for AIESEC is driven by my sense of responsibility in helping engage young New Zealanders with the world and finding their passions.

What has surprised you the most during your volunteer activity/role/responsibilities?

How much potential people have! I’ve seen a lot of people who are seemingly average prove that actually they can do some pretty amazing things, some of the volunteers from AIESEC Otago we had, despite being very shy and feeling very inexperienced, really impressed me by going out to some of the biggest companies around the city to see if they would be interested in helping us create exchange opportunities in Dunedin and all of them remained really calm and were great at their job!

How can interested students help out?

Come find us at clubs day next semester when we’ll be looking for new volunteers to join us, or if they’re interested in our exchange programs just flick us a message on Facebook!

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

If it’s a living person, I’d pick Stephen Fry. I’m a big fan of his comedy and his documentaries, I can tell he’d be an extremely interesting person to have a conversation with.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

I feel like my greatest accomplishment was coming out of my shell when I came to uni. I was a really shy and anxious kid in high school, so I’m really proud of myself for becoming who I am today.

What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

A perfect day for me is a sunny day outdoors, going to visit some beautiful spots out in nature, especially the beach!

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

My education, it’s given me so many opportunities that I have no idea what my life would be like if I hadn’t had access to it.

Thank you so much Fraser! It was wonderful chatting to you.


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