söndag 8 juni 2008

8 days in Kiev for ITC, part 1

This is the first part about my experience being a solo delegation at one of the biggest events in AIESEC, the International Trainers' Congress. Read about my first two days in Kiev!


Standing in line for passport control I'm hit by a wall of cigarette smoke. As I get to the front the uniformed man looks at my papers, pecking a finger at a place I didn't fill in. “You have a pen?”. He shakes his head, and I search my bag hoping not to fail to get into Ukraine because I lost my pen. After finding one I'm surprised when I'm let in without fuss. Having passed through more security I'm met by an outgoing Ukrainian girl. We travel into the city towards a hostel with bus, metro, and lots of walking up and down stairs, all the while discussing our countries and what seems like a hundred other things. Even though I realize I packed too much I don't bother much since I couldn't wish for better company. That in a part of the world where russian, not english, is the universal language and where I feel more dependent than any time I can remember.

Finally arriving I meet another AIESECer whom I quickly become friend with. Into night hours me and the president of AIESEC in Armenia discuss training, the difference between coaching and mentoring and Talent Management. It turns out her country has the most developed Talent Management practices in the organization. I'm impressed, and not less so about her applying for national president as her first leadership position. Going to sleep my life feels unreal: I think about everything that happened (more than what I told you now) and the friends I made, all in one day, all before the conference has even started.


The following day is Global Village, where every country gets to present themselves. It's in the center of Kiev, open to all and the weather is fantastic. I taste traditional drinks and foods like the fizzy Ukrainian beverage Kombucha (which I'd heard of but never been able to try), mingle to get to know people from some of the 20 or so countries there, join in dances and every once in a while I do my best to represent Sweden. As I'm doing the representing Sweden part, standing in my very own tent, an AIESECer from Kiev approaches me and tells me they have a Swedish intern! He calls her and she visits. Seems people forgot to tell me, but what a great surprise!

Afterwards we're transported to a hotel for Opening Ceremony. Most memorable is a motivational speaker. He tells us research has been done on why it is that the lives of most people who attend personal development seminars don't change for the better. The conclusion was that whether someone succeeds or not depends 10% on skills, 40% on ideas, and 50% on environment. Even without paying for seminars I realize I've experienced this. An AIESEC conference is such an amazing environment that gives you loads of energy. But a problem at least in Sweden is that the environment back in our LC's isn't always positive enough, and so that energy fades. Yet the local reality can be incredible. I'll forever thank my past project manager and past VPOGX and LCP for all encouragement in my first time after joining the organization. Without that I would never be where I am today. I believe this importance of environment can explain why most who end their AIESEC experience end up not attempting to change the world for the better. The key learning point here should be: Construct the best environment for you (and others) possible and make it a part of your daily life, not just on special occasions.

After a nice Ukrainian-looking dinner, and some equally nice conversations we move to the night's party. On a boat!!! I spend some time on deck looking at a truly beautiful city, and for the second time this day I regret not booking my flight back later so I could see more of it. Heading downstairs I sit down with the Slovak and Czech delegations, and learn my first words in Slovak (I already like the language...). The day ends at the hotel that will be our conference site, where a tired me has a few hours to sleep before breakfast.

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