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AIESEC ‘forum’ set to inspire global change through sustainable solutions

The ‘Youth Speak Forum” in Kuwait in May will devise solutions for a better world through engaging discussions and impactful workshops based on Sustainable Development Goals, globally.

THE TIMES KUWAIT REPORT


AIESEC, the international non-governmental and not-for-profit organization run by youth for youth, which provides young people with business and leadership development internships, and empowers them to make a progressive social impact, is holding its first ever ‘Youth Speak Forum’ in Kuwait. Ahead of the event, in an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait, President of the Kuwait Chapter of AIESEC, Maysoon Al-Attar, spoke at length about the organization, its activities, and efforts to widen its outreach in Kuwait.

Could you share some insights about AIESEC and its mission?

Imagine a multinational company that only “‘hires’” youth between the ages of 18 to 30. This means that each and every employee, team leader, department head, vice president, country manager, CEO, is between the ages of 18 to 30. Now imagine that each position is a 1 year term, and each year youth get promoted into a higher position by applying for desired positions. This is AIESEC. AIESEC is the world’s largest youth leadership development organization run 100 percent for youth by youth.

AIESEC is a global platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential by offering services to youth that develop their leadership skills and positions. Our products are opportunities for youth to travel and live abroad to do volunteer work for 6 to 8 weeks, or for work internships for 3 to 18 months. We also offer mini experiences to youth such as conferences and workshops and local internships.

AIESEC exists in 109 countries and territories, and is celebrating 76 years of existence this year. We are a non-partisan, independent, not-for-profit organization run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education.

Since we were founded, we have engaged and developed over 1,000,000 young people who have been through an AIESEC experience. The impact of our organization can be seen through our alumni who represent business, NGO and world leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisaari of Finland.

Could you elaborate on the initiatives undertaken by the Kuwait chapter of AIESEC and the impact it’s creating?

As AIESEC in Kuwait revived its operations in 2023, we gradually introduced new products and opportunities to the Kuwaiti market. We began with local membership experiences, and then team leader opportunities. This allowed us to grow from one1 member in January 2023 to 35 active members in January 2024. In December 2023 AIESEC in Kuwait hosted its first large-scale public event, the Vivid Leadership Conference which celebrated 75 years of AIESEC globally, and the first year of reviving AIESEC in Kuwait post- COVID-19ovid. The success of this event gave us the encouragement to begin planning for our next conference, Youth Speak Forum, focusing on encouraging youth to speak up and take action on sustainability and the UN SDGs. And finally, AIESEC in Kuwait has begun operating its outgoing Global Volunteer program, giving youth in Kuwait the opportunity to volunteer abroad to develop themselves while creating positive social impact.

How did your journey with this movement begin?  

I first joined AIESEC in Malta in 2010 when I was studying my bachelors in Malta. When I first joined, I wasn’t taking it so seriously, but I was enjoying meeting locals and organizing events. In my second year, I was put in the sales and customer services team to send youth on Global Volunteer opportunities. After 9 months, my team leaders encouraged me to apply for a vice president position. At first I was hesitant, but after attending my first regional conference in Vienna, Austria, I decided to try my luck. It was also at this conference that I decided it was crucial for AIESEC to come to Kuwait.

I got the position of Vice President for the incoming Global Volunteer program, and Sponsorships Manager. After a very successful term, everyone around me encouraged me to apply for the President or Country Manager position for AIESEC in Malta as a whole. This was one of the best experiences I ever had in my life.

You’re organizing the Youth Speak Forum in Kuwait for the first time in May. Could you provide some details about this event?

Youth Speak Forum (YSF) powered by AIESEC is a platform for passionate individuals aged 18-30, companies, organizations, and government entities, unite to discuss, dream, and devise solutions for a better world through engaging discussions and impactful workshops based on Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, we have been running it since 2016, but it will be the first time being run in Kuwait, and will happen at AUK. It is a conference focusing on Sustainability and the SDGs through a diverse set of activities and methods of delivery such as keynotes speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and more. The Youth Speak has many additional elements such as a Global Volunteer fair, Worlds Largest Lesson, and the SDG Innovation Challenge in which the winners will turn into Youth Speak Projects.

Who qualifies to join AIESEC and what is the process for doing so?

Anyone between the age of 17 to 30 is able to apply. However, our priority is to focus on the younger segment, mainly 18 to 22. We do not do ongoing recruitment. Instead, we have recruitment periods where youth can sign up to become a member which serves as a 3 to 6 month training period to become a team leader. During the recruitment period, we ensure to give youth an experience very similar to getting hired for a job so that they learn from this experience. Therefore, they apply, then they have an interview. Those who pass the interview go through an Induction day seminar. After this they go through an assessment period where they are given different individual and group tasks to assess their commitment and availability. Those who pass attend an onboarding conference where we allocate them into departments and give them their first positions.



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