Life is hard. I think we can all agree. You wake up in the morning, trying your best to succeed and the universe keeps getting in the way and making things difficult. Challenges are something I’ve been confronted with since I was young and I believe that they will never subside. It wasn’t until last year, that I realized that instead of constantly trying to avoid these challenges, I should embrace that they will occur and rather work on how I can show resilience. How did I come to this motivational conclusion? I went on exchange.
I know, you’re probably thinking “great, another person from AIESEC trying to convince me that I should go on exchange”. And you’re not wrong. But since you’ve already read this far, why not go all the way.
My journey took me to Egypt. I decided to apply for a project where I could help Syrian refugees who had fled to Egypt to gain skills that will make a real difference for them and help them in their times ahead. Before even applying, I had been seeing the misfortune of these poor people everywhere in the news, on social media and I just felt so sorry for them. They are innocent and forced to leave their homes because of fear for their lives. I decided that instead of just feeling sorry, I will act. After getting accepted into the project, I traveled to Egypt and began my experience. I remember seeing the masses of people there and in that moment I became so emotional, I felt guilty. Guilty for being born into such a privileged life, guilty that I ever complained about the things I had when there were people with problems that don’t even compare. Guilty and angry. Angry that our world is so unequal, that people are drinking 10.000$ champagne while others are living on 1.25$ a day and are fighting to survive. I hesitated. I didn’t know how to approach this project, how to act around them. Should I tell them how sorry I am? Should I just not say anything and focus on the project? I was struggling a lot. In the end, I decided that my guilt and my anger would lead nowhere and that I came here for a reason and that I will do my best to make their situation even just a tiny bit better. It was the best experience I have ever had, a project which completely changed my perspective. If I had left that first day, I would have never benefitted so much from it, and I would have never experienced that impact.
Even though at first I felt ashamed that I even considered abandoning these people because I was overwhelmed, afterwards I realized that it’s okay to hesitate, it’s okay to sometimes be afraid, as long as you don’t let it define you and persevere. It was Linda Poindexter who said “One small crack does not mean that you are broken, it means that you were put to the test and didn’t fall apart”.
I try to live by these words and ever since I came back I have seen every challenge as an opportunity to better myself and to always strive for more.
So now it’s your turn. Are you strong enough to face any challenge?
Search for opportunities under opportunities.aiesec.org and challenge your limits.