7 Things I Achieved Thanks to My Exchange in Turkey

“It started during my winter vacations. I kept hearing all my friends super excited about going home for a while, and how they couldn’t wait for summer vacations to be with their loved ones for entire 2 months!

I, on the other hand, had a really strange feeling evoking inside me. I didn’t want to spend all that time sitting at home doing nothing! Hence, I spent my entire winter vacation searching about things that would keep me busy during my summer holidays, as well as add on to my CV.

That was when I stumbled across AIESEC.

A few days later, after researching about all the projects and giving interviews, I finalized my exchange in Turkey! To my surprise, it didn’t take me more than a day to convince my parents to let me go abroad all alone – when I was just 18!

That’s how I got to spend 6 weeks in Turkey, and I had the best days of my life.

This Global Volunteer exchange made me explore and uncover parts of me buried deep within, and I couldn’t have been more grateful to AIESEC for giving me this beautiful opportunity.

I wish everyone could live something like that, so I’ll share a bit more with you right now.

Here are 7 things I achieved thanks to my Global Volunteer Exchange to Turkey, with  AIESEC:

1. Contributing to a better world and travel to another country

The concept of volunteering has always fascinated me the most. Helping others around the world while fulfilling your travel bucket list is a really great combination that AIESEC offers you.

I was working at a rehab center with specially-abled kids and adults and at the same time quenching my thirst for wanderlust on the go. All thanks to AIESEC!

2. Traveling on a budget

If at all I have dreamt about something passionately, it was traveling the world. But I never had enough funds to finance any of my trips!

AIESEC was my one-stop solution for affordable traveling.

The thing with traveling that drains out your pocket the most is when it comes to accommodation. But while I was in Turkey, I stayed along with my host family for 6 long weeks and I couldn’t have asked for better hosts than them.

They are more than family to me now!

3. Experiencing solo traveling

One of the most important things of what an individual must strike off his checklist before he turns 30 is a solo trip! I was beaming with joy when I strike this off my list merely at the age of 18! The feeling was just amazing!

4. Getting to know my latent talent

I strongly believe that traveling solo changes you as a person from within.

I never knew I could handle the pressure of surviving in a country without even knowing its native language. I never knew I could keep myself at cool while I changed 5 flights to get back home because I missed my connecting flight. I never knew I had the courage to go around exploring different cities within Turkey, all by myself!

I was truly surprised getting to know my all the things I was able to do by myself.

And most importantly, this experience helped me realize that I was a person of content, and to ignite my latent passion for writing once again – so much so that my first travel blog made to the top 5 on Google’s first page!

5. Learning about a different culture

Being a huge fan of Turkish drama, I thought I knew almost everything about Turkey, but I was so wrong!

It’s only when one goes and actually stays there, one gets to understand the real essence of the culture. I ended up loving their culture so much that now my house is full of Turkish chai and souvenirs.

My vocabulary of Turkish words and phrases increased from a mere 50 words to approximately 250 words when I returned from my exchange. By the end, I was even speaking in Turkish with my family members for almost a week since I got so used to the culture.

6. Making new friends from all around the world

My favorite and the most exciting part of the Global Volunteer was that AIESEC conducts a lot of cultural evenings!

Volunteers from all across the world gather around, wearing best of their traditional outfits, and bringing a bit of their traditional cuisines.

At first, I was skeptical about how it would all turn out to be, What will these people think about India? But the cultural eve was the best ice breaking session we all had.

We tasted flavors of different countries, danced in Spanish, French, Turkish, Hindi and Arabic music and what not! Now I can say that I know a bit about many many countries around the world.

7. Winning the trust of my parents

It wasn’t just me who started believing in myself, but also my parents and the people around me.

I was a whole new version of me when I returned from my exchange. I was more confident and even more independent, and my parents, my friends, and family noticed and felt the same.

I could see that my parents were really proud of me, and I could make out from their sparkling eyes that I had won their trust.  Sending a girl all alone when she just turned 18 to a country overseas was a brave thing my parents did.  And AIESEC made sure it reaped great results for their daughter.

To summarize it all, my exchange has helped me grow as an individual.

This trip has invoked a unique kind of spirit and passion in me.

I have never felt closer to accomplishing my dreams. It made me turn my CAN’Ts into CANs.  It truly was a life-changing experience for me.

So if you are someone having second thoughts about going for an exchange, don’t!

Just go with the flow and you will do wonders. You won’t even realize, but you will be surprising yourself each day on this journey!”

Nimisha Modi did her Global Volunteer in Turkey in July 2018. If you also want an experience like her, check out our opportunities at aiesec.org.  

4 Valuable Lessons I Learnt from my Exchange in Mauritius

Mauritius is a stunning island nation, known widely for its beautiful beaches, lagoons, and reefs. However, Naman Ahuja, who went for a Global Volunteer Programme as an Exchange Participant has a lot more to add, besides the aesthetic landscapes of this republic.

This is the story of how this exchange helped him develop his personality while adding to the positive changes that these programmes sought to initiate in the world!


“The exchange made me self-aware in so many ways! I got to know and explore my own abilities and capabilities. For example, I didn’t know I could deliver a  speech in front of 50 students and teach them too!” says Naman, who had been a reluctant introvert.

“Another self-realization I had was about my physical fitness.

We went on a lot of trekkings and that’s when it posed a challenge. I realized I wasn’t as fit as I needed to be to go hiking, unlike everyone else (who did not face this problem). It made me self-aware that I needed to build my stamina in order to live up to the tasks which were essential for my exchange projects.

exchange on Mauritius

If there’s something I couldn’t do, I had to work on that.

One more thing that this exchange helped me realize was how efficient I was with introducing myself to a group of total strangers, getting to know them and building a strong bond with them. These are qualities I thought I really lacked because I never really put myself out there.” he adds.


Communicating effectively in diverse environments, and engaging with others to achieve a bigger purpose play a pivotal role in empowering others, which is a key component of AIESEC’s leadership development model.

“My job role was to work on projects that were assigned to us: The Women Empowerment Project with the National Women Council of Mauritius, which was a huge deal.

There were three projects under this: Awareness Project, Self Defence project and the IT project.

One of the best things about this programme was that we were allowed to introduce our own projects, give our inputs and ideas for an entirely new scope, and they would create it for us! It was absolutely amazing.

“We worked with the National Women Council, and all their employees were women. Me and two other EPs from Kenya and China were the only males working in the organization, and all the other people who worked on this project were women!

The team I worked with conducted workshops on Information and Technology, teaching women basic Microsoft skills, etc. We taught around 500 women regarding this.

IT workshops for woman in Mauritius

We also took part in teaching specially-abled children during some days of the week, and it was an enlightening experience.

In the self-defense project, we had to organize a proper workshop and invited a self-defense trainer from Lebanon, the only woman in the entire middle-east for the job. So we understood the level we were actually working on.” he adds.


“One time we were locked in our house for two days, because of a Level 3 Tropical Cyclone that was going on at the island.

It was a sudden crisis, as we had to arrange food for everyone, and we had no external resources in case we ran out of food! Besides that, we also had to come up with ways to protect the house we were living in from the physical damage of the cyclone.

So the ten of us came together and planned out how we were going to protect the windows, we rationed food and cooked it together to effectively manage the limited resources we had!”

Hence, being solution-oriented in times of crisis is an essential lesson that one can learn from such circumstances.


People from all around the world aren’t so different, according to Naman.

Living together with people from different countries under one roof taught him that people may look different and dress different, speak different languages, but they connect. Because deep down we are all humans and that is the power of human connection.

exchange participants from AIESEC connecting in Mauritius

“There wasn’t a huge cultural shock as I expected. Mauritians are mostly of an Asian-African descent, and I kind of felt at home, within a few days of being there.

The nationalities of other EPs differed: there were people from Kenya, Australia, China, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Taiwan. These were people with dynamic personalities who helped me develop and even discover the hidden aspects of mine.

One thing I was worried about before going for my exchange was what do people think of India? Everyone I met in my exchange loved India and were totally fascinated by the Indian culture, so being the only Indian in the exchange was an amazing experience.

The one thing that absolutely stood out for me were the people of Mauritius. They are one of the kindest, most considerate and grateful people that I have ever come across. They are always there for you.

I didn’t know the local language, but whenever I traveled alone, I felt that there were people who would help out with the smallest of things. Even if I found myself lost for a second, they helped out and were super-approachable.

I still remember some of the shopkeepers and the people I used to wait with at the bus stand.”


group of young people on exchange in Mauritius with AIESEC

For as short as it is, and exchange really teaches you how to bond with the people, be vulnerable, strong, flexible. You connect with those with similar vision and goals as you, you achieve something by putting in your hard work, and appreciate the result together!

Naman’s experience changed his way of seeing life and helped him become a better version of himself. If you want to read about another breathtaking country, check this article about Vietnam!

If you also want to live an experience like this, check our exchange programs at aiesec.in!

9 Volunteers Who are Making a Difference Across the Globe

“My volunteer experience was one of those things that I can talk about for the remaining days of my life and that wouldn’t be a lot. If someone asks me what is the most selfless thing I have  done for someone, I’ll  say: Well, I volunteered.”

This is what I have to say about my volunteering experience as a teacher in Vietnam.

This is just one of those amazing and powerful stories being written down every year, every day and every second. But there are so many others which are still unheard of. Each of them has created an impact, which consistently shouts through the irresistible smiles of people they have left behind.

All around the world, helping a stranger continues to be the most common way to give.

According to UN’s Annual Volunteering Annual Survey Report of 2016, 57% of volunteers work in international organizations and contribute to the SDGS.

Here are the goals that people most engage with:

My experience in Vietnam was also related to a goal: Quality Education.

Here are some Volunteer Stories that will make you wish to get involved as well:

1. This is Jyoti. She volunteered in Jakarta, Indonesia through AIESEC in June 2017.

She contributed to “Quality Education”, by participating as an English teacher in a local school.

volunteer working in Indonesia

“I think everyone should volunteer at least once in their lifetime. It did a lot for me. I knew I was a part of a very positive change and that was evident each and every day.

I remember when I was leaving, my students kept saying things I had taught them. It was the most beautiful feeling of my life.”

2. Jennifer, from the Netherlands, volunteered in Indonesia as an English Teaching, in January 2017.

She worked with a co-volunteer from Poland, together they impacted kids from different areas in a summer camp.

We had the opportunity to come up with our own ideas for the classes. So we both tried to be as creative as possible. 

testimonial of volunteer who worked in Indonesia


We also made Dutch and Indonesian food, played music together, listened to English songs and painted with the students.

This project taught me a lot about how to look at things from a different perspective. I used to have a lot of conversation in English, about all kind of topics.

It also made me think in a more creative way, thinking out of the box by coming up with different kind of lessons everyday. I think this will help me in the future, looking at things through different glasses.



You can read more about her exchange in the blog post she wrote.

3. Maren, from Germany, volunteered in Sri Lanka, on the Project Earth 1.0, in March 2017.

I noticed that most of the children and the teachers were somehow touched by realizing, that we, the project members, have taken time for them and to think about Sri Lanka.”

volunteer working in Sri Lanka

Maren went to rural schools and taught people about sustainability. At the end of the project, she was thrilled to see her students share what sustainability means to them and how they can take action.  

4. Shril Shah, from the Usha Pravin Gandhi College of Management, Mumbai found it in his AIESEC Internship in Vienna, in January 2017

“There are internships which are slogfests. There are those which are routine, asking you to surrender eight hours a day to polish a seat in an insular office – and then there are those which bring you to the edge of your comfort zone, push you beyond and leave you with unforgettable life lessons.”

volunteer working in Vienna, Austria

“In Vienna,  the students were regular school children who had a good and healthy standard of living. My job was to make them aware of the situation all around the world. I had to make them realize how lucky they and why they should contribute globally to help those who are not that lucky.

Creating awareness about global realities and urging them to take up responsibilities as citizens of the world, was indeed a fulfilling experience.”

You can read more about her experience here – Shrill’s Internship Experience

5. Chloe from Singapore volunteered in Cluj – Napoca, Romania in July 2017.  The Project was called, “ Discover Rural.”

“As part of the project, we volunteers were sent to two different schools located two nearby towns outside of Cluj-Napoca to teach English and impart knowledge on the sustainable development goals to children and young adults, aged 7-18.”

volunteer working in Romania

This was mainly done through the introduction of their respective local cultures and through the use of very simple English, due to the language barrier.

“We planned our class activities such that they would be able to cater to the respective language proficiency of our students.  In order to deliver our lessons to younger children with lower language proficiency, we tried to expose them to the simpler SDGs through simple tasks, such as saving water.”

She writes about her experience in her blog – Milking Cows and Chasing Chickens

6. Haneesa, a student from the National University of Singapore volunteered in Casablanca, Morocco, in 2017.

“Morocco was definitely an unconventional choice for me to do my Global Volunteer project, but throughout it all, I felt that the experience allowed for my personal growth and development.

Living in a completely new environment, where I had no knowledge of the main languages spoken in the country, I felt incredibly out of my comfort zone.

volunteer in Morocco

During six weeks in Morocco, she volunteered in the “Drive Morocco to Quality Education” project. Teaching English to children from age of 5 and even to adults in their mid-40s.

“It was the first time I felt so vital to someone else’s learning experience. I had never been a teacher before and there I was, providing these hopeful souls with the works of the English language.

They had their full trust in me to provide them with whatever they needed to succeed in their academic journey. It was a humbling experience, and the children and teenagers never failed to show me loads of appreciation.”

7. Isabella, from the University of  Melbourne, Australia, volunteered in Vietnam.

She writes about it in her blog – Why Volunteering overseas after my exams was the best decision in my Life !

volunteer with children in Vietnam

“As I was undergoing my exchange, it was easy to see how important quality education was for Vietnam.

Mere conversations with the founders of the non-profit organization I worked for led me to understand that quality English education is imperative for the youth in Vietnam.It opens up doors for better opportunities for them.”

Not only that, we can agree that quality education, in general, is vital to ensure that future generations can help
improve the conditions of their countries.  

“The sheer excitement of the students when we visited their classes to teach English, as well as the fact that so many students opted to take extra English classes outside of school, crystalised the notion that the youth in Vietnam value their educational opportunities.

They are driven by improving their skills. It was a very humbling experience being able to impact these students through teaching English.”

8. Micheal Pham, an undergraduate student and President of Ryerson University, Canada volunteered in Taiwan.

“I chose to go abroad to Taiwan and volunteer because I feel strongly that, in the landscape of today, the key to leadership is to understand the world around you.”

volunteer working in Taiwan

He chose to do AIESEC’s Global Volunteer exchange program, where he would volunteer for 6 weeks at an elementary school called Nan’an, located just north of Kaohsiung City in Taiwan.

“I taught English and created structured lesson plans for topics based on Diversity, Cross-Cultural Sharing, and Climate Change. My exchange focused on working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education (SDG #4) and Climate Action (SDG #13).

I was able to not only be a teacher to the students at the school, but I was a student myself, learning from the culture of Taiwan. I was able to take part in religious and traditional celebrations at school.”

9. Gvatsa, from Georgia, Volunteered in Italy, in a Quality Education Project.

“In a few weeks, I was able to communicate with dozens of students from about 15 to 20 years old, not only as a teacher but also as a friend.

We often did discussions, and it was interesting to understand the position of Italian youth on various issues. Soon I realized that their style of living and thinking was very similar to Georgians.”

volunteer working in Italy

“Besides the students, I had good relations with the teachers too.

It’s hard for anyone to find a common language, given that Barozzi High taught courses such as international relations, international law, marketing and foreign languages. In addition, we often talked about politics, economy, history and art.

They did not know anything about Georgia, the country’s history and culture, the Georgian-Russian relations.”

You can read her blog here – It was difficult to adapt, and more difficult to be independent

These are just a few amazing impactful stories, from people who decided it was time to take the leap.

There are many more out there!

If we give a chance for opportunities, all of us can spend some contributing towards a community which needs it the most.

If you think it’s your to volunteer like they did, you can learn more about our volunteer exchanges here.

To read next: “7 Ways to Volunteer Abroad on a Low Budget“.

Blog by- Khyati Ghai