On the 17th to 21st of August, I took part in an AIESEC International Conference in Japan with four other AIESEC members: Hu Hao, Tu Jin, Kai Wei and Gabriel Tan. The name of the conference was called Daybreak and it was held in Tsukuba Grand Hotel, which sits atop Mount Tsukuba in the Ibaraki prefecture. The theme of the conference was Kokorozashi, which translated from Japanese means a strong ambition to co-create with your crew. The conference featured delegates from 10 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Oman, Afghanistan, Mainland of China and finally Japan itself.
We started off the conference with an opening address from the Mayor of Tsukuba City himself, followed by a Global Village. The Global Village is an event whereby delegates from the same countries set up their booths and featured food items from their respective countries. All the other delegates would then go around all the other booths to interact with people from the other countries. The delegates will also share about the culture of their countries and provided us with not only the chance to be exposed to other cultures, but also opportunities to get to know each other.
Following that, the first two days were filled with activities and sharings by the facilitators with the intention of getting us to be part of “One AIESEC”. We also participated in discussions that got us to find out more about how different Local Committees operated. This allowed us to gain new insights into how different committees worked towards the same greate purpose of AIESEC. During the free times and breaks, there was never a dull moment as Roll Call videos were played and all the participants had fun performing the Roll Call dances of entities all around the world.
Sumptuous dinner with the other delegates
The last two days were concentrated towards forming connections and partnerships as well as coming up with a Global Volunteer project to help the less fortunate. We were dedicated time to present our own Global Volunteer and Global Internship programs to other delegates, as well as openly go around to interact with delegates from different departments as well as different Local Committees to exchange contacts. For the Global Volunteer project conceptualisation, we were broken down into groups to conceptualise the project from the beginning, as well as support it with research. We were then required to present our projects in 3 minutes to the other delegates. The 6 best projects were then voted to be chosen to be presented to a panel of industry leaders and governmental organisations that would potentially invest in the project to be realised. The panel included representatives from managerial positions from companies like Schneider Electric, Panasonic and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Following that, we received back our sugar cubes, which contained written notes of well-wishes from the other delegates.
The numerous opportunities for interactions, coupled with the friendliness of the international delegates made the conference a very memorable and enjoyable one. All the Singaporean delegates, including myself, made a lot of friends from all of the other countries. The open-minded and friendly environment promoted conversation between all of the delegates. Everybody was interested in getting to know everybody else, and despite a slight language barrier, conversations abounded at every interaction opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of making international friends as well as learning more about languages and cultures of different countries. Every night, we also came together to have chill sessions where we shared more about each other until the wee hours of the night. We developed not only personal relationships, but professional ones as well. By finding more about the different opportunities available at different countries, we were able to form partnerships in order to bring more opportunities to our own entities, providing you with more options should you decide to engage in the Global Volunteer and Global Internship programmes.
I was also inspired by the ambition (Spirit of ‘Kokorozashi’) of some of the international delegates. There was a delegate from Afghanistan that came alone and wanted to form partnerships at this conference in order to make a positive impact in his home country. There was also a delegate from Philippines who conceptualised a project to reduce casualties from typhoons in her home country through education as well as improving warning systems. Their selfless spirits and attitudes made me reflect upon my own motivations in life, and certainly showed me that there were many ways that we could positively improve the world in both big and small ways.
The conference was indeed amazing due to the friendships formed as well as lessons learnt, and I would recommend everyone to go for at least one international conference during their AIESEC terms. It might turn out to be an experience of a lifetime, just as it did for me.