Our first ever full team photo! Peggy, me, and Dominic (in person), Nathan (on the laptop Skyping in from Manila), and TK (on the corner, taking the picture from his laptop all the way from Bali).
We started our Planning Week on Monday, and it’s been pretty intense. We’ve been having long discussions on our team’s vision for AIESEC Mongolia, what we as a group want to work towards and achieve, and our strategies for meeting our goals for the organization.
Nathan and TK discussing critical issues during transition… lol!
Planning Week has been made a bit interesting as a result of two members of our team still not being in Mongolia, and getting their visa applications sorted out, as well as getting our own individual alien registration processes finished. Since last week, at least one member of the team has been bouncing back and forth between the Ministry of Education, the Immigration Office (conveniently outside of UB, near the airport), and the printing shop (whenever the Ministry or Immigration demanded extra documents). I’m confident that everything will work out, after all, three of us are already here. Frankly, it’s just a question of timeliness, and how quickly the people at the Ministry and Immigration get things done.
Regardless of the side issues we have to deal with, Planning Week has been very exciting so far. Tomorrow, we’ll be delving in deeper on the type of strategies we want to pursue in order to reach our team’s goals for the organization, as well as our individual goals for our respective departments and roles. This will definitely be an exciting week!
AIESEC Mongolia 2012-2014 looking into the distance… or more likely, distracted from the camera (from left to right): Peggy, Hien, me, and Dominic. Photo from Dominic’s phone.
So this week, we had the final farewell party for the last remaining member of AIESEC Mongolia’s 2012-2013 leadership team. Hien left UB early in the morning this Friday bound for Finland to complete her university studies.
With this in mind, our term as AIESEC Mongolia’s leadership team has officially started. We are now in charge. A bit daunting, but exciting at the same time. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we’re still waiting for two more members of the team to arrive, but we’re ready to go.
Mongolian is a hard language to learn. I’ve been trying to learn a few words, and this is what I have so far (disclaimer: pronunciation may or may not be accurate):
Сайн байна уу
Sain bain uu
As you can see, Mongolian’s a bit more difficult to learn compared to other languages, as the writing is in Cyrillic rather than the Latin alphabet that English speakers are used to. I learned how to speak Bahasa Indonesia through reading the Indonesian subtitles on DVD movies that I watched, while Spanish was easy to learn, provided you memorized how conjugations for each word and each tense worked.
None of the members of the AIESEC national team in Mongolia are Mongolian, so there are times when we have to rely on our members to translate for us, and even do the simplest things like read letters, or talk to a taxi driver via phone to tell them where we want to go!
Learning Mongolian will be a challenge, but hopefully we’ll be able to pick up some more useful phrases, and at least be able to have a brief conversation in the language!
Today marks my first week in Mongolia, and what a week it has been!
So much has happened since I stepped off the plane. Time has gone by so quickly that it feels like I’ve been in Mongolia for more than a week! That being said, this blog post will be a bit disjointed. It won’t capture everything that has happened over the last week, but I hope that you’ll be able to get a glimpse of it.
The Cathay flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was delayed for two hours because they, in the words of the pilot, had to “change the plane’s batteries,” which was concerning! Fortunately, the flight went smoothly, and I was able get enough sleep to mitigate the effects of jetlag.
The flight to Ulaanbaatar
I had a six-hour layover in Hong Kong. During my six-hour stay in Hong Kong, I had some time to eat breakfast, and take a shower (which would prove to be a smart decision later on). Afterwards, I boarded the MIAT Mongolian Airlines flight to Ulaanbaatar. The flight was quite bumpy, we were frequently in turbulence, and the landing was a bit scary. I’ve been told that this is normal, given UB’s weather situation.
Summer Youth Leadership Conference
Immediately upon arrival, I was fortunate enough to get picked up by Tenger, one of the chapter executives of AIESEC IFE. He and his family took me (and my luggage) straight to the venue of AIESEC Mongolia’s Summer Youth Leadership Conference, which was outside of Ulaanbaatar proper.
One of the gers that delegates to AIESEC Mongolia’s Summer Youth Leadership Conference stayed in.
The conference venue was in the countryside, pretty much right in the middle of nowhere. The facilitating team and the delegates stayed in concrete gers, which is supposed to be the traditional dwelling of nomads in Mongolia. The gers we stayed in weren’t exactly “traditional” as it was concrete. The normal/usual gers that nomadic people use are essentially heavy duty tents that help them survive through the winter.
SYLC 2013 Delegates. Photo by Nami.
The conference itself was awesome. It was very different from AIESEC conferences that I have attended in Canada, as well as the conference that I attended in Singapore. The delegates seemed to be really interested and really engaged in the conference. The parties weren’t bad either!
Bits of UB
Ulaanbaatar (or UB) was at first, very intimidating. It’s very different from any of the major cities that I have lived in previously. Crossing the roads, getting a “taxi,” and even taking a shower is completely different (as the hot water has been turned off for our district for the next few days).
We’re fortunate to have the flat situated right in the middle of the city, making day-to-day work and errands easy and convenient.
The city was at first very confusing for me, but from my point of view, the key to being able to get around in UB is to ensure that you know where your landmarks are.
State Department Store (also known as Nomin)
The State Department Store is one such landmark, as the MC flat is very close to it. The State Department Store (aka Nomin) pretty much has everything you need, but there are places you can go to that are much cheaper.
Sukhbaatar Square, which is basically UB’s city centre, is another landmark. The Square contains Mongolia’s parliament house, as well as a massive statute of Chinggis Khan.
Mongolian Parliament at Sukhbaatar Square
There are tons of statues in UB. In Sukhbaatar Square, the most noticeable ones are the statues of Chinggis Khan, and Sukhbaatar (Red Hero).
And finally, a video from the farewell party for our former MCP, Charlie. Members of AIESEC Mongolia gathered at the national team’s new flat to send her off just hours before her flight.
And that’s all I have for now. I’m aiming to blog more about life in UB as well as my work for AIESEC in the coming days. Until then, see you later!
AIESEC Singapore National Team Candidates, photo by Sarah Zhao
The last two weeks have been pretty crazy.
During business hours, I’m completely focused on my co-op/internship at the Asia Research Institute, but after office hours, I’ve been focused on participating in the selection process for AIESEC Singapore’s national team for the 2013-2014 year.
Within four days of arriving in Singapore, I attended my first “Meet the People” session with one of the AIESEC chapters here, followed by three more that took place three days in a row last week. On Sunday, I was able to observe the election of AIESEC Singapore’s national president and local chapter presidents for the next term, and also managed to secure a vote of confidence from AIESEC Singapore’s membership to participate in the interview stage – the final step of the national team selection process.
I didn’t come to the decision of applying for a role with AIESEC Singapore lightly, and it took me almost two weeks to decide whether I would even submit my application when I found out about it last December. I thought that I was done with AIESEC; clearly, I’m not. I don’t know how things will turn out, but regardless of the end result, I know that I won’t regret taking this step and putting my full effort into it. It has been an intense three weeks.
While my MC term with AIESEC in Spain was unfortunately cut short last year, I’m glad with how things have turned out in the end. My co-op work term here and the timing of the elections made my participation possible. I’m glad that I, along with the rest of my fellow MC candidates, have invested a lot of time into this. It’s awesome being surrounded by people who are driven, and share the same passions as you, even though you’ve only known them for a few days.
So, with that said, all the best to my fellow MC candidates who are participating in the selection process physically here in Singapore, and virtually around the world! What will be, will be. All the best at the interviews this weekend. Fingers crossed, and good luck!
I haven’t been able to blog lately. I know it’s no excuse, but July’s been a bit of a difficult month. So if you’ve been following, I’ll give you a summary on what’s been happening with me this month.
Visa application frustrations
My visa application hasn’t yielded any favorable results yet, though I’ve been in communication both with the Spanish Consulate in Toronto and AIESEC in Spain. I didn’t anticipate that the Spanish visa application process would take 3+ months, but at least I’m not the only one waiting. Five out of eight members of AIESEC’s Spanish national team (3 Colombians, 1 Korean and myself) are still awaiting news, so I’m in good (virtual) company. Hopefully the visa will come out soon.
Leaders Summit in Madrid
Two weekends ago, AIESEC in Spain had its summer Leaders Summit for executive body members of the organization. The three Spaniards in the national team and the Austrian AIESECer who volunteered to help out in the national office for two months ran the show, organizing both the conference sessions, as well as venue logistics and liaising with the hotel. Needless to say, they pulled it off!
In preparation for the Leaders Summit, the five members of the Spanish national team still abroad were involved in creating and organizing the conference sessions, and helped in one way or another (via Skype) to deliver the sessions to the conference delegates. I had never attended an AIESEC conference outside of Canada before, nor have I ever attended an AIESEC conference virtually, so helping facilitate a conference virtually was an interesting experience. I also had the opportunity to meet with the delegates (via Skype, essentially someone walked around with a laptop so I can talk to people during the conference), especially the ones in the outgoing exchange department, which was great as I had the opportunity to talk to them all at once about strategies and challenges they’re all facing in their chapters.
During the Leaders Summit weekend, the five international members still not in Spain essentially lived in Madrid time. I can’t speak for the others, but the Leaders Summit reminded me of what I signed up for.
MC work so far
AIESEC doesn’t wait for visas, so even though I’m not in Spain yet, I’ve already started working (via e-mail and Skype) for the national team. Because of the visa application situation, it’s difficult to get things started as we don’t have a completed plan of what we as a team want to do yet.
Because of the time difference, and the fact that I still have a part-time job here in Vancouver, I do most of my MC work during night time so that I can Skype with people in the national office in Madrid, or in any of the other local offices, if I need to.
And when I’m not working, I’m usually hanging out with friends every few days, which is nice. Last year my life-work-school balance was way off, but this year it seems to have improved significantly.
I’m actually surprised that I learned (and like) playing Call of Duty now, and I’m improving in the game somewhat. Mind you, I play this game multiplayer so it is very challenging!
This weekend, in particular, was eventful. I went to a goodbye party for Tina, who is moving to Korea to teach English, and hung out for a bit with a few AIESECers during Derek’s “spontaneous” visit to Vancouver.
This week’s been a little bit busier than the last few weeks.
I’m currently organizing a “matching mania” event for Spanish students and recent graduates that are currently enrolled in AIESEC internship programs. If you don’t know what AIESEC is, then you won’t know what a matching mania event is. Make sure that you read the following explanation:
AIESEC runs two internship programs, the Global Internship Program and the Global Community Development Program.
Students and recent graduates admitted to these programs search for and apply for internships worldwide using AIESEC’s online database.
Part of my job with the AIESEC national team in Spain is to recruit students and recent graduates to these programs, and make sure that they are able to secure their internships.
A matching mania event is meant to help these students and recent graduates meet with AIESEC volunteers managing these internships in other countries online (usually via Skype), and hopefully, allow them to secure an internship much quicker.
The matching mania event is going to be held on 07 July, so there’s still a lot of time to organize the event, but it’s a lot of work. I’m very proud of the bilingual website I made for it!
Aside from that, I’m still waiting for my Spanish visa. It’s been a painfully long process, but I’ve been getting good news the last few days, so hopefully it will be issued soon.
In my blog, I will probably be referring to VPs OGX a lot, so it might be a good time for me to explain what these people do.
AIESEC in Spain has 13 local chapters located nationwide, and each chapter has a VP Outgoing Exchange (VP OGX), which is responsible for recruiting Spanish students and recent graduates for AIESEC’s internship exchange programs, and also for sending them on internships worldwide.
Anyways: Last week, I started meeting with the local chapter VPs OGX. The meetings have been very interesting as I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about how AIESEC runs outside of Canada, as well as the many things that they have excelled at, and the many challenges that they are currently facing, especially in light of the current economic crisis plaguing Europe at the moment.
Of the 13 VPs, I’ve met with 3 so far, and I look forward to meeting the rest of them this week! These meetings have been really helpful, not just because I’m learning more about each local chapter, but also because I’m getting the opportunity to think about ideas that can help the local chapters with their work!