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INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERING: A TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE

For several years, La Sergio, in agreement with the global youth organization AIESEC, has offered to its students the opportunity to volunteer in different countries of the world. Alfredo González, graduated of Politics and International Relations, tell us how having this experience in 2017 made him grow personally and professionally.

AIESEC voluntariado internacional universidad sergio arboleda internacionalización intercambios


By: Alfredo González
Graduated of Politics and International Relations

All started when I was in the seventh semester, about to start my emphasis in the area of International Relations. My objective was to understand the different cultures, to know closely the influence of the history and the context in the particularities of the countries. So, in 2017, thanks to my friend and career partner Mateo Vargas, who was part of AIESEC, I approached to the organization and became interested in it, realizing its presence in more than 100 countries, its recognition by UNESCO and the promotion of leadership and soft skills development programs.

Also, my career had led me to live experiences to know the world and my condition as a student called me to adventure, to discover myself as a person and professional; it was at that moment that, hand in hand with AIESEC, I decided to volunteer.

The organization presented me the “Gira Mundo” project, framed in the Sustainable Development Goal number four: “Quality Education”. The experience consisted of working for six weeks at the Régulo Tinoco public school in Natal, Brazil, a country that I wanted to know because of its importance to Latin America, not as a tourist, but rather leaving my comfort zone and through an experience that will contribute significantly to my life.

Boarding on the adventure

To be part of the project I had to present an interview whit the person in charge of its execution in Brazil and explain him my goals and purposes. After passing this filter, I booked my place whit AIESEC, paid the travel insurance, and because the legal status of a volunteer is the same as a tourist.

After twelve hours of flight I arrived in Brazil and being there, alone, without knowing anyone, the process of discovering myself began.

The first days I met whit the team that was developing the project, we made an alignment whit the Régulo Tinoco teachers and built a weekly plan to execute the courses that would be taught to young people between eleven and seventeen years.

Part of our work consisted in making young people understand that the Police is an organ that tries to mediate in different social situations, that the gap that had been opened due to the dictatorial and repressive events of the years 80´s should be closed and that it was necessary to work together. This activity was relevant, because in the building where the school is located is also a police station with whose staff, at the time, there was no good relationship.

Another great task was to bring them closer to the concept of internationalization, since many of these children had not even left their neighborhood. For them, going to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro was practically equivalent to leaving the country, therefore, when meeting a group of young people from Venezuela, France, Turkey, Colombia and Mexico, they acquired a different perspective, one of open doors.

Equally, work was carried out on fundamental axes such as gender equality and technology. So, to develop the first of them, we did workshops to understand the risks of violence against women, which at that time had high rates in the country, and how it contributes to the transformation of that reality with the construction of healthy social dynamics.

For the technological field, we took advantage of the fact that, a year ago, the government of the Rio Grande del Norte state had delivered computers, projectors and mobile internet networks, equipment that were in disuse due to lack of knowledge. For this reason, we carried out training for children and teachers to learn how use it, interact with it and generate content.

Today, I reaffirm that this was a great experience that allowed me to find my purpose. There I had a new beginning, I analyzed my environment and I evaluated myself as a person. In addition, I met people from other parts of the world with whom I shared experiences and visions. In the same way, I had the opportunity to develop a stronger sense of belonging to Colombia and to understand that despite the difficulties we are a great country full of goodness and attributes.

Professionally I grew up; I learned to strength my soft skills, to successfully communicate ideas and to speak a language as interesting as Portuguese. I understood that working as a team and carrying out projects means changing lives.

I’m currently part of AIESEC, I’m the president of the area in charge of the work carried out with the universities Sergio Arboleda, los Andes and Jorge Tadeo Lozano. There I coordinate a group of seventy people who want to achieve the objectives of peace and development of human potential, pillars of the organization, and who seek to give students leadership opportunities and international experiences.

Now, with total conviction, I invite young people to live this experience, since university is the ideal stage to get to know the world and get closer to different perspectives and ways of life.

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