Six months ago I didn’t know AIESEC existed, and I probably still wouldn’t if it wasn’t for my sister. As students in Lund, last year we where both thinking about internships and so we, or well she, found out about AIESEC. I had decided early in the fall that I would spend the spring term doing something that wasn’t studying. I needed to get out of that bubble and into another reality, and I sure did!
“AIESEC? What? How do you spell that?”
While in Paraguary I spent six weeks working at El Cántaro in Areguá, Paraguay. El Cántaro is both an art gallery and a popular school which gives workshops for free in a number of different subjects – ceramics, art, guitar, theatre, bio construction etc.
Furthermore they have a “mediateca” with books, computers and video equipment which are open to the public, also for free. My own contribution to the school’s mix is dance classes for kids. When not dancing I’m helping out with whatever needs to be done. I arrived when everything was about to start again after a two months break so I’ve done a lot of fixing in the school, painting, spreading the word about the workshops and helping out in the gallery.
But how did I end up here in Paraguay?
As I was to discover AIESEC was really an opportunity. At first overwhelmed by all the projects on the website (the website which by the way really tested my patience. It caused me a few minor breakdowns trying to browse the page for projects…), I finally got my eyes on this one in Paraguay. From the outset I had narrowed down my search to Spanish speaking countries, but as you know there’s a few of them. Paraguay caught my attention both because of the name of the project (Plan Sonrisa) and because of the fact that I didn’t know much about the country itself to begin with.
So off I went! Or wait. Not to forget is the work done by and the support I got from AIESEC in Lund. Big thanks to you guys! For me the buddy system worked out very well. I might as well admit that I’ve lately begun to do things in the last minute (anyone recognize the word procrastination?) and the fact that someone kept track of the process and kept sending me projects made it easier to set aside time and not let it hang until the last minute.
Once in Paraguay another AIESEC entity welcomed me and I got yet another buddy. Thanks to her I haven’t got lost even once in Asunción or while taking the bus! Through AIESEC here in Paraguay I’ve met a lot of the members, other volunteers, and everyone is just very nice and friendly. They’ve organised event such as the Global Village and a bicycle tour around town and there haven’t been one moment when to feel even slightly bored.
To sum it up I would say that I had an amazing time in Paraguay, and I would strongly recommend everyone who’s thinking about volunteering or doing an internship abroad to go! Do it. Leave. Let go of your fears and get involved.
Tips from Jennifer!
Go with an open mind. Sure you will have a lot of expectations, but more than anything expect things to be different from what you’d expected.
And don’t worry, everything’s going to turn out great either way. (Well, I still need practising on this point. I worry way to much. Always. To no avail.)
If you’re going to Paraguay in the summer, get ready for some heat. My first day here the temperature reached 43 degrees celsius!
Get ready to meet some amazing people, perhaps discover a few new things about yourself and stretch the limits of what you thought you could achieve a little further. And smile.