Taipei: Week 1

JAMES Quek:

I guess many people [AIESECers] only get to see the “impact” and “experience” when they truly go for an exchange with themselves.

Originally posted on traipses:

So I’m in Taipei!

I do realise that my last blog post was in May, which doesn’t surprise me at all, because I definitely reached a new level of busy this year. So much has happened – I am about 4 days away from completing my VP term at AIESEC QUT, and pending the results of my recent semester, I will hopefully now be 1 semester away from graduating. Time really flies.

Despite being in AIESEC for over a year, I only managed my first personal glimpse of the global impact of AIESEC when I was travelling in Budapest, Hungary in July on a uni exchange this year. I joined one of those guided walking city tours, and as luck would have it, I spotted someone in the tour wearing an AIESEC t-shirt. I couldn’t believe it – of all the different walking tours I could’ve joined, I came across…

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Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling

Here I Stand
Erica Goldson

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.” 
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” 
Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardised test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not
to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States. (Gatto)

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?
This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!

The full text can be found here

Developing future responsible global leaders

Tens of thousands of students and recent graduates, each year, in over 100 countries manage an organisation that facilitates tens of thousands of international exchanges so that young people may experience and understand cultures other than their own.

This organisation is called AIESEC.

AIESEC is the global youth network impacting the world through leadership development experiences.

AIESEC believes that being part of this global community, taking these management and leadership opportunities and having the chance to learn and define our roles in society gives us as AIESECers a bit of direction in becoming change agents who can positively influence our world in the future.

AIESEC NTU: Passion Unleashed!

AIESEC in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore is leading the change with Singapore’s youth through an event called Passion Unleashed – “A premier talk series that aim to encourage students to take proactive steps towards changing their lives.”

For more information, please check it out here:
http://app.youth.sg/Home/Campus.aspx?eid=2371

Find out more about AIESEC Singapore: http://sg.aiesec.org/

什么是AIESEC? (What is AIESEC?)

Taken from a story written by AIESEC Nankai University (NKU):

我无法用一句话告诉你什么是AIESEC。

我非常诚实的告诉你。

如果你在百度百科里输入“AIESEC”,里面会显示:
“AIESEC成立与1948年,目前已成为 全球最大的由青年领导的组织,致力于提供一个供青年学生发展自身领导力的平台,由此提供给青年大学生参与到跨国商业实习/文化交流,实践性领导力岗位锻炼以及全球学习平台的机会。”
“AIESEC的愿景是 Peace and fulfillment of Humankind’s potential . 世界和平以及实现人类潜能开发”。

如果你输入www.aiesec.org,你可以发现AIESEC目前在全球的规模:
AIESEC已经遍布全球124个国家和地区,2,400所大学,拥有86,000名成员,每年提供15,000次海外志愿者机会和5,000次海外实习机会,校友数字已经达到了1,000,000 ,拥有超过8,000名合作伙伴。

如果你输入http://photo.renren.com/photo/241055978/album-850700602 ,你可以看到AIESEC中国大陆区的历史:
2002年,AIESEC中国大陆区成立,2002-2013,AIESEC中国大陆区已经走过了十一个年头,每一位AIESEC成员都一直在践行“以青年人文与商业探索,筑文化理解之桥梁”的使命。

如果你点击http://issuu.com/aiesecmoc/docs/aiesec_moc_impact_report_2012-2013,你可以阅读到AIESEC中国大陆区2012-2013影响力报告:
过去的5一年,2700名中国青年志愿者走遍了53个国家,我们的国际青年公益项目在超过20座城市运行,影响力当地不同社区的45,000名居民,250余名优秀的青年人才参与到海外实习项目,用人才去推动中国与世界的多边商业合作,465名国际青年来到中国,推动中国全球化的进程。

如果你点击AIESEC南开分会官方网站www.aiesecnku.com,你可以看到这个分会的组织架构与运营情况:
AIESEC南开分会成立于2004年,即将迎来发展的第十年。分会共有9个部门,分别是出境交流部(志愿者方向),出境交流部(企业方向),国际公益项目部,入境交流部(企业方向),市场公关部,人才发展部,对外关系部,国际关系部,财务与法务部。

2013年到目前为止,AIESEC南开一共被媒体报道23次,我们的文化保护公益项目“天津故事”在2月登上了《人民日报》,我们的归国志愿者被《今晚经济周刊》专版报道。
我们一共举办了9次校园活动,2013年4月20日,天津青年商业论坛在唐拉雅秀大酒店举行,9名来自不同行业的企业高管与420名天津大学生论剑商业,2013年6月1日,“嗨·世界”游园会在津湾广场举行,50多位来自20多个国家的留学生,与5000名天津市民一起文化狂欢,千名大学生一起在海河起舞。

如果你想知道今年AIESEC中国大陆区在发展第二个十年的愿景:
We envision,a generation of globally competitive leaders positively impact tomorrow’s China.

如果你想知道在AIESEC全球主席眼中的AIESEC,2010年毕业于清华大学,AIESEC首任华人主席(2012-2013任期)梅贻说:
“我从来没有觉得AIESEC是一个校园社团,因为这从来就不是一个学生社团,这不是一个你来了做做社员,做做小组长,做做部长主席然后开始下一步学习工作生活的地方。
因为它的舞台不在这个已经很大的清华园,在整个世界。
这是一个国际NGO, 或者说一个国际青年社会企业,让大学生通过自己的双手,制定战略,执行计划,为身边的学生创造价值的地方。每一年,全世界近两万名学生由此得到机会去到世界每一个角落学习成长突破自我,而这一切,不依靠别人,靠我们自己。
这是一个可以让你通过自己的努力从一个普通的中国大学生走向世界的地方”。

“我一直坚信AIESEC是一个这样简单的地方
让持之以恒的人看到成长,
让天赋凛然的人学会坚持。
给迷茫着的人一个发现自我的成长空间,
给有梦想的人一个实践自己的世界舞台”。

如果你想知道AIESEC中国大陆区合作伙伴玛氏中国(Mars China)对AIESEC的评价:
AIESEC是目前中国乃至全球范围内,在推动大学生社会实践和能力发展方面方面最卓有成效的青年组织。我们希望通过与AIESEC的合作,为在校大学生人才提供交流、培训、工作的机会,帮助他们为迈入全球化的社会做好准备。
—— 玛氏中国,原人力资源总监李奕坤

如果你想知道主页君,一个普通AIESECer,在AIESEC里面的收获,我想告诉你:
我在大四下加入AIESEC,最开始只是想通过这里出国见见世面。没想到到现在马上研二了,我仍然留在这里。
AIESEC给我最大的触动,让我看到了我们自己大学生活的可能性,以及让我看到了什么叫做践行青年社会责任。
当我看到无数天津青年人走出国门,通过海外志愿者项目和海外实习项目提升自己的领导力、跨文化沟通能力,当我看到我们的公益项目不仅帮助到了需要帮助的人,而且让更多的中国青年意识到这些问题,并且勇于改变。
每个生命来到世间注定要改变世界。
我相信这句话。并且愿意去践行。一点一点。
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所以,我真的非常诚实的告诉你。
我没有办法一句话告诉你什么是AIESEC。
AIESEC是一个国际化平台,是一个领导力发展平台,是一个充满可能性的平台。
无数青年人通过这里拥抱飞扬青春;
无数大学生通过这里用青春丈量世界;
无数大学生通过这里坚定人生目标。
但是,你最后获得什么,还取决于你自己。