Youth to the forefront

By Shaveen Jeewandara

To have the words ‘old’ and ‘youth’ in the same sentence would hint at an oxymoron, but not in this case. Incepted in the 1930’s and nurtured over decades, the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (AIESEC), is the world’s oldest and largest youth organization. Standing out from the many youth organizations that have enveloped society, AIESEC brings forth an essence of professionalism to their activities. AIESEC is present locally at the Universities of Colombo, Moratuwa, Jayawardenapura, Kelaniya, and extensions in the Universities of Peradeniya and Wayamba.

The acclaimed global foundation, has been around in Sri Lanka for the past 16 years, but is now looking to further establish it’s presence within the youth population here. In this respect, two main events, namely the National Leadership Development Seminar and the Youth to Business Forum are planned for this year, and ‘Ayubowan China’ to be held early next year.

Sarah Shi, Committee Member and Vice President of External Affairs, Lividul Witharana, Committee Member and Vice President Information Management and Communication, and Alla Berdnikova, Member of the Alumni for AIESEC Ukraine, expressed their views to the Mirror, on their future endeavours.

The following is a glance at some of the upcoming projects that AIESEC has planned to engage local youth.

Youth to Business Forum (Y2B) - will be held on November 26, under the vision of ‘Innovation, Youth Empowerment and Social Entrepreneurship’. Over 600 participants are expected to attend this event while introducing youth to experts in the business field. The proceedings will commence with a keynote speech, and then move on to partner workshops, and finally a panel discussion. The main idea behind it is that the first stage will allow the Business minds to speak out to the youth, while the second stage will allow the youth to give in their innovative ideas to the Business community. Lastly an integration of ideas will take place. The Y2B will run on a feedback oriented system where the youth have a direct say in the proceedings.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure that a solid platform is laid down for young people from all over the island to chip in to make a difference in the business arena”, Sarah enlightens us.
Ayubowan China - “Is a cultural exchange between China and Sri Lanka, and we hope to strengthen ties between the two countries,” Sarah tells the Mirror. “A mutual understanding between youth of the two nations will be fostered”.

The ‘Ayubowan China’ cultural fair will take place early next year, and will encompass many exciting avenues such as Chinese cuisine, traditional and cultural items, Fireworks, Performances, Handicrafts, game stalls and most importantly an exposure to the Chinese lifestyle. 50 students from Universites in China will arrive for this event which will come to a close with ‘The Dragons Nite’, a gala celebration marking the Chinese New Year. Aside from the project AIESEC is also concerned with International Internship Programmes, a concept which would allow university students to be a part of an internship programme overseas and build their career experiences.

“The youth will garner a lot of valuable lessons in life, a global mindset will be developed and they will experience what it is like to work out of their comfort zones,” mentions Alla, who is here as a volunteer to work with Sri Lankan youth. “You get to meet totally different people and you face life changing experiences,” she adds.

The partnering local university students will enjoy the benefit of this programme. “After you go back to your country after an International Internship, you develop a dream to change your country, I felt this very strongly,” Alla goes on to mention. In the same way that Alla was motivated, the youth of Sri Lanka too will be motivated to give back to the country, and work towards it’s greater good. “Providing such opportunities is the only viable solution to the growing demand for professionalism, and one can enjoy the cultures and traditions of a totally different country, and share their experiences back at home,” she states.

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