October 13, 2016.
This past summer, Catherine Yu ’19 traveled to Suez, Egypt through Cornell’s branch of Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales, a non-profit, non-political international organization that helps college students to study abroad.
AIESEC works to promote cultural awareness and global citizenship by sending students abroad on six to 12 week volunteering programs in countries across the world, according to Suzy Park ’18, vice president of marketing for AIESEC Cornell, Sun video editor.
“[AIESEC offers] thousands of projects that range from marketing and project management to teaching and global health,” Park said. “AIESEC is strongly committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and many of our projects relate to SDG items, such as gender equality, quality education and climate action.”
Park added that, working with exchange partnerships composed of universities from around the globe, AIESEC draws a more international cohort than other abroad programs available to students, which creates an “opportunity for our participants to meet and connect with people from not just the country they are working in, but from all over the world.”
Yu said she primarily shared accounting and marketing strategies with 20 Egyptian entrepreneurs and taught workshops to a wide range of students who all shared a strong desire to start a business.
“Some were college students and some were already in the workplace,” she explained. “There was even a student who travelled all the way from Cairo to Suez to attend our workshops.”
Despite her difficulty in adjusting to unfamiliar cultural customs, Yu said she had a strong support group that helped her assimilate into the new environment.
“I could spend time with local people, and they also taught me a lot about how to behave well and how to speak some Arabic,” she said.
To Yu, this experience was not only important for professional development, but it also served as a cornerstone for personal enrichment.
“A person can enrich themselves in two ways,” she said. “One is by reading more books; the other is to see more stuff. So I really want to see the world, especially when I’m young.”