Diversity and the journey for an identity

21 September 2015

Nowadays, the hustle lifestyle of the cooperated world has demanded us to stereotype, not only an action’s motive, an individual but also a country’s culture without any consideration. We firmly believe in what the social media is feeding us and neglecting the voices of those, who matter at the same time. Nothing, it seemed, could break through this belligerent disconnection. Eventually, we cope with the system which was designed not to be questioned, to eliminate critical thinking. Consequently, young generation often suffers from global misconception and identity crisis as I was once before. Finally, the result is endless conflicts and distrust around the world.

Determined to embark on an identity discovering journey, I signed up for Global citizen program and decided that China is the ultimate destination for me that summer. Owning to its richness in cultural, economic and educational ideologies. Notwithstanding, this journey to the east shifted my perspective about human’s connection and the world more than I had ever imagined before. 16 countries- 28 individuals with 28 different characteristics, but we treated each other like a family.

From the beginning, Cultural Discussion was the most important part of this project. It allowed all the members to unfold the splendidness of the Chinese civilization. Additionally, showcasing our unique cultures through presentations about multiple aspects: education, cuisine, folk talks, etc. was also a part of the activity. I recalled so many sleepless nights to finish my presentations filled with intriguing images with music and videos. Countless moments of surrender I considered, but what kept me holding on was the enthusiasm of the listener while I was telling the story of another Vietnam. A Vietnam in the era of transformation, a Vietnam with its amicable citizens that are opened to difference. At the end, overjoyed I felt when Susana- the Mexican intern, told me: “You know that Utkarsh almost cried when you are onstage with Bella (my Vietnamese fellow) performing the traditional song. I will you definitely visit your country, I promise, Lukie”. Looking back, being caught up in the Swiss rat race, I feel disconnected from my country. Nonetheless, AIESEC’s experience has helped me to acknowledge myself as a nationalist, a stereotype breaker. My love for Vietnam has always been there all along despite all obstacles.

The activities ranged from Kungfu practice to characters writing, traditional food making, puppet controlling and historical building visits

Then, an event happened that changed my mindset about patriotism forever. That was when Alaa- an Egyptian, gave a captivating speech about his beloved nation in which he identified the irony of the current economic situation. Additionally, he also mentioned the celebration of Arab Spring revolutionary protests. From a Facebook event, it became a phenomenon in North African and Middle East countries. Thousands and thousands people marched on the streets to demand for changes and democracy. Even though the result was not as triumphal as expected, in that sacred moment, being moved by the bravery and indomitability of the army, he was truly honored to have the nation’s blood running through his body. The sincere of the presentation held the audience spellbound and enabled me to truly understand the meaning of a paragraph that I once read: “It is easy to love a country nourished in privilege but it is the hardship that tests the man’s heart.” After that, Alaa told me that the conversation he had with me and Utkarsh had rescued him from relentless negative assumption: “No one will ever be listening to my speech”. He thanked me for inspiring him to craft such a compelling presentation, raise his voice and impact others. It was then I realized I can be the positive influence for someone to make a difference.

Everybody in their traditional customs presenting our countries in the Ningbo museum with local residences

During this trip, we had the privilege to teach English to primary students. I tried my best to be the most energetic, humorous teacher for the children so that they can see learning English as an exciting process rather than an obligation. Furthermore, me and Chan- my Malaysian friend, spent most of the nightspracticing the cup song. The following day’s party was a 3-hour of laughing, dancing and singing together celebration. Pleased by our great effort, the English center’s president gave each one of us a box of traditional “Rock Tea” and wishing us well on the way back.

Teaching English to primary children in the weekend

Incredible was the teaching experience, it also provoked the missing feeling inside me since all of us were separated into different location. Flashbacks of the cherished memories flew, faces of the loved ones emerged while travelling back to dormitory. I remembered the night as I witnessed that simple human connection when everybody gathered in the hallway of the hotel; conceded our weaknesses, fears and vulnerability. At that moment, streaming down my face was the gratefulness that destiny brought us here. It surprised me of how many times I just kept falling in love with each and every single one of them the way I did. I discovered another part of me, the caring part for the ones who truly matter. Even now, each member lives in the different part of the world, I can feel like they are here, with me, in my heart, always…

27 inspiring and talented individuals with the devoted OCs team from this project

At the end of the volunteering experience, I finally realized what AIESEC’s “Global citizen” really means. For me, it describes an individual who places his identity with the “global community” above the national identity regardless of geographical or political borders. He creates cultural dialog with people across the globe to discover beauties in diversity. Last but not least, he must constantly enrich his knowledge in every aspects of life to find solutions for a better future.

A future where the value of someone‘s lives is not determined by any other than the fact they have lungs. A place where every single one of us can breaths…

So, what have I have been doing so far?

During the 2 weeks back in Vietnam, with the experience I gained, I was selected to be the delegate of Germany in the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) in the national VYMUN 2015 . Hours and hours of heated discussion and debate was provoked among the most intelligent students across Vietnam regarding topic: Globalization, the solutions to worldwide terrorism. I was able to express my idea and learn how to conduct the most beneficial resolution for every country. In addition, I drew out the conclusion that: most terrorists’ group radical brainwash systems is operate on identity-crisis, spiritual relive and community belonging. Since most of the targeted victims do not have a proper education or happy childhood, hence, ensuring a well- cared program for all the citizen is the solid foundation. As Mr. Ban Ki Moon- minister of Foreign Affair and Trade said that: “It is time to invest in young people as peace-builders”. Because of AIESEC, I perceived the world not only through the lens of social media but also though the lens of humanity and benevolence.

Returning back to my own university, I proposed the idea of introducing the Global citizen program from to all the students. The counselor advised me incorporate the program with the Geopolitics classes. Words spread like fire. With help from AIESEC Lausanne and Fribourg team, we were able to establish a workshop for the interested students. At the workshop, I was encouraged to share my volunteer story in China: the lessons I learnt, the challenges we overcame. I explained how serving too much food on the table is a caring gesture for their guests rather than a negative habit like most of the students thought before. As a stereotype breaker, I used my words to fight against China’s misconception, as well as how we can go from acknowledging inner yourself, your capacity to changing the world

Looking back, the emotional roller-coaster of emotion with AIESEC, MUN and TED has truly shaped me to become who I am today. Often, I find myself lost in train of thoughts and memories. I know I am not the only one, but we eventually have to move on and accept the reality. At the end, I had the answer that I have been craving for from the beginning: I am the canvas of the people who I met, the community where I made the impact on, and a country’s culture which I am in love with. A patriot, a passion igniter, an emotional individual, a peace builder and last but not least- a story teller. I am one and I am many. “I AM DIVERSITY” …

This is an AIESEC experience
This a the story for an identity
How about you, what is your story?

Credit: All the amazing pictures and video were captured by Patricia Chong, Joyce Cui, Richie Ginigy Lychee

“This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, that showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world