International association of students arrive in Shanghai for cultural exchange

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/6 18:28:00

The 2016 East Global Citizenship Development Seminar (GCDS) organized by the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences (AIESEC) was recently held in Shanghai. With the purpose of helping 131 international volunteers from 32 different countries along with 54 Chinese students from mainland universities prepare for six weeks of cultural exchange in China, the seminar allowed the volunteers an opportunity to learn about and respect different cultures and lifestyles.

"AIESEC is committed to be the platform for developing youth's leadership, social responsibility, international competitiveness and entrepreneurship," Samuel Chen, the current vice president of AIESEC Chinese mainland, told the Global Times.

This was the first year after Chen's graduation from Sun Yat-sen University as a full-time staff member of AIESEC. For him, AIESEC's value and vision more fit his life goal, which is to achieve self-fulfillment by contributing to society and helping others.

During the three-day conference, volunteers learned how to work as a team. Former AIESEC volunteers shared their past experiences on how to manage crisis and how to develop personal leadership. Foreign volunteers were also taught to live in the Chinese way, including learning basic survival phrases like "how much?" and "where is the toilet?"

Growth mind-set

Maital Kaminer, 20, a student from the University of Georgia in the US, will be volunteering at a rehabilitation center for disabled children. "We play with them and try to teach them basic letters and numbers. It is interesting to see kids with disabilities from other countries, because I also work with them in the US," Kaminer told the Global Times, "The kids are happy and smiling all the time. They are so cute!"

According to Kaminer, China has an ancient history and culture and it is such a fast-growing country as well. However, she feels that the way it is perceived in the US media is sometimes negative. Therefore, she came here to see the real China and experience it for herself.

Ali Ahmed from Bahrain is also a university student. He wanted to join a volunteer project and help others during his global exchange. "I was always fond of Chinese culture through Jackie Chan movies. We always see those kinds of architectures and dragons. I was curious about the reason behind those myths," Ahmed said. "In my mind, Chinese people are always cheerful, but when I arrived I had a culture shock. I found all Chinese people are serious and tense."

Ahmed said that Bahrain is an undeveloped country because there is a very conservative and closed mind-set and a lack of enterprise. Thousands of youth in Bahrain refuse to enter university because they are satisfied with being a security guard or an employee all their life. "They don't see the big picture and the hard future. I feel sorry for them," said Ahmed. "But when I come to China, I see a growth mind-set. I see people are willing to change and develop. No matter what they do, it's not enough. And that's what I love about China the most."

During the conference, Zoe Huang, a member of AIESEC Chinese mainland, gave a speech on the meaning of cultural exchange: "Exchange indicates psychologically a change of mind-set. Being in a totally different and unfamiliar environment, trying to see, to experience, then to understand from the local perspective and finally to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) initiated by the United Nations."

The article was written by Zhang Qin




International students participate in the 2016 East Global Citizenship Development Seminar in Shanghai. Photos: Courtesy of AIESEC Chinese mainland

Newspaper headline: Global Citizens

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

blog comments powered by Disqus