“Finally, I feel alive”
What’d you do if someone say that to you after you do something for them?
In my case, I cried.
At college, I never the type to be active in internal campus activities. But of course, as someone who can’t stay still, I was an active member of an international leadership organization named AIESEC. AIESEC help youths to develop leadership skill by providing exchange experience across countries, also for other youths.
Joining after some talks with a senior, I was captivated by how this organization works. My senior said in AIESEC, a team never consists of more than 5 members. This system will make sure everyone works and have the same chance to develop themselves.
I know from my own experience, too much people in a department/team will only make people ditch their work, not because they don’t want to work, but more due to their personal contribution would be so small. I thought, “this organization is serious in developing its members toward growth, huh?”
Not until I experienced my first national conference that I fell in love with the 70s years old organization. I was enlightened. If I can exaggerate, even though I’m not, it felt like I was awake for the first time.
It was the first time that I was taught to live with purpose and to think about the direction of my own life. I was taught that skills, as hard as it seems to appear, can be developed, and you can learn things while having a lot of fun. I had fun, I danced (literally, lol), while also fought, argued, cried, and be vulnerable together with my fellow AIESECers.
One year and a half I involved myself in AIESEC, in 2016 I got a chance to hands-on being an actual leader of a team. It wasn’t intentional. The event came from my idea, but the leader wasn’t supposed to be me. But I braved myself to step up, and I’m glad that I did, even until now.
It was named Dreamcatcher Summit, the event in which I was trusted to lead. I recruited some of the team members myself, even from outside AIESEC. I made sure I have the supports and talents that I needed, even when I had my own unvoiced doubts.
For an event that has never been done before in AIESEC, the scale was quite big. With the theme of Live Your Passion Passionately, it was a 2-days-1-night event with a big ambition to bring AIESEC culture, especially conference culture, to outsiders. I wanted people to be able to experience the life-changing conference, as I had before.
The journey wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. One of our partners which promised us more than 50 million rupiah, dropped out. We were made to survive without our main sponsor just less than 2 weeks before the day.
We held out. It was blind faith. With every inch of effort and prayers, we gave our best for our registered participants. We believed they deserve the best, despite anything happen on the background. Then, everything came into places. We just made it work somehow, towards the day, towards the end.
We made a big circle in the ballroom. It was in the afternoon at about 4PM. Didi, the chair of the summit, led the last session for the committee and participants to have an after-event evaluation, together.
I sat there, at one of the sides of the circle. Yeoda, one of my committee members, spoke up first, thanking the participants and how he learnt alongside them. As if becoming a cue, one by one, the participants let their mind spoken out loud. To my surprise, it turned to be an appreciation session.
They thanked us, the committee. They told us what they learnt and how they felt on those 2 days. I couldn’t remember all they said, but I remember my tears built up at the back of my eyes the more people spoke. My heart felt like it was about to burst at any moment.
Then the magic words came out. One of the participants said something that I can still remember to this day. “Finally, I feel alive.”
Just like that, I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore. Literally everyone can see my crying.
It was the very first time that I felt like I could make an actual impact for other people, as someone who barely get a grip of herself, as someone who felt like I was no one. I could do it. Leading people towards a goal and making impact, while developing ourselves.
Where there is a group of people, there is always a need for leadership. Reversely, leadership won’t be possible without people to be led. To achieve a higher goal together, understanding each of member’s own goals is, in my opinion, inevitable.
There is no team with no conflict. Sooner or later, a bunch of humans placed in one spot will create frictions. Striving towards a goal without the effort to understand each other will only magnify the conflict. Among all those conflicts, a team supposed to have each other’s back to achieve the team’s goals. But first, you have to be a “human”.
Understanding other people as a human being with various motive, value, and priorities, gives us precious lessons to be a human which humanize others, while impacts make us complete. Thus, if I have to define leadership with my own words, being a leader means learning to be human.
Above of all, I learnt from AIESEC that leadership is developed, which means it can be trained, and with the right platform, anyone, even youths, can taste what leadership is, even before climbing up the ladder of corporate hierarchy. We’re all human, after all.
To me, that “right platform” is AIESEC.
AISEC gave me a chance to do something big, even when I thought I couldn’t. I didn’t know why or how my colleagues in AIESEC Bandung, especially my senior and my teammates trusted me to do something that’s never been done before. But we did it, together.
AIESEC didn’t only taught me to be a leader, both to myself and to others, but also to be a human, who understand people as other human beings. If I think about it now, maybe AIESEC journey was the beginning of my interests for humans, for making impact, and this blog is just one of my effort to do just that.