The world today is so similar yet so different. It seems like we could fit the entire world in our palm, but it’s when we face a real challenge that proves how hard surviving in the present corporate world could be. Tackling the hardships that come along in one’s path might be tricky, but with the correct skillset and a mindset that’s trained to look through reality, a challenge becomes a weapon that could help transform one’s personality to go harder and strive better.
To get an excellent jumpstart to one’s professional career is a quality of a timely opportunity seeker. Anisha is such a young spirit who thinks that accepting a challenge that comes your way will never let you down and, instead, will lift you up in your career. Anisha is an esteemed exchange participant who is currently serving an internship working as an English language instructor in the Berlitz language center in Karachi, Pakistan. She talks so passionately about her experience she reaped the maximum benefit out of which was provided as a result of an opportunity she sought from the Outgoing Global Talent function in AIESEC. Here’s how she unfolded her experience as an exchange participant working in a foreign country.
Anisha, let’s start off by giving a brief introduction about yourself.
My name is Anisha, and I’m currently an undergraduate specializing in BA in English; and I’m also specialized at TCSL, which is a Programme that nurtures professionals to teach English to whoever speaks it as a second language or foreign language. I have been a teacher in Sri Lanka for approximately about six years, and this is my first international teaching experience. So, I applied for the English instructor opportunity, I got it, and now I’m here!
How did you find out about this opportunity, and what made you apply for it in Pakistan?
I saw a post on Facebook put up by Supun. I contacted him, and he took me through the process of what this is and how it works, which caught me interested, and I decided to sign up. I was working with a team to find a suitable opportunity. What I applied for perfectly aligned with my profile, considering my educational and professional background, so that’s how I got selected as an English language instructor.
I was specifically looking for countries that do not teach English predominantly like Russia, Turkey, Egypt, etc. I applied for Hong Kong as well but what was on my mind was that I should apply to work somewhere students do not have a great exposure to English. So Pakistan seemed to be a very good country for me to work on my profile since the official language there is Urdu, and a huge part of this city speaks Urdu exclusively. Also, it’s closer to home. So I saw an opportunity there, and I took it.
What was the nature of the interview process, and how challenging was it?
It was a two-step interview process. Initially, I had an assessment to test my English proficiency, which was done by the company Berlitz. I needed to score a certain level there, which I did. Later, I had a second interview with the manager of Berlitz. Once it all was over, I got an email saying I was selected for the opportunity. It was very challenging with Covid- 19. I had to be sure since I was already working in Sri Lanka, so I had to resign from the job and apply for a visa as well, which seemed unpredictable because Sri Lankan travelers were not allowed to visit Pakistan at the time. So I had to get a special letter to get the visa as well, and it took about three months from the selection process to landing in Pakistan.
How did you feel when you got the news that you had been selected?
I was very happy. It was my first emotion. I felt that I had the skill that I’m a talented teacher. Then when it came to thinking about flying amidst covid situation and all the other things, it felt very tiring, and at that point, I felt like not going to go ahead with it. But then, with the help of my family and friends, I decided to come here.
Upon arrival, how was the support you had from the host country in managing your work and time?
Once I landed there, I was picked up by fellow AIESECers, and I was dropped off by my accommodation which was a huge change because one day I was with my friends and family, and all of a sudden, I was with a host family with no one I know around, and I don’t know their language although now I’ve caught up some words I can manage. So I get very lonely sometimes, but I’m glad that Sri Lanka and Pakistan are not very far, even a flight takes only about 4 hours to visit either country. The work environment is great, and the nature of the work is also good in which there’s a balance between work and relaxing. I work full time for 9 hours a day for five days a week, and I have two days off from work in which I have lectures. Sunday in Karachi is a full lockdown. You don’t have malls or shops open, and you can’t go sightseeing. I got help from my EP buddy in answering my questions and figuring out food and delivery etc., but they are also busy, and I haven’t got a chance to meet up due to the situation in Karachi and their work schedule and especially because of Covid-19. Apart from that, I met lots of different people here and last week, I met a bunch of travelers, and we went out for lunch, and they even took me to their friend’s wedding! It was fun.
During the course of this opportunity, how was AIESEC any help to you?
Well, AIESEC supported me throughout the interview and also during the visa process, which took a long time, but they made sure to secure it, and as I said before, I do not have much space to go out and enjoy during my free time due to the situation in Karachi, but AIESEC was there to help me. After I came to Pakistan, I went out with fellow AIESECers on a food street for a day out where you can find varieties of food. They were very friendly, and in case of an emergency, they were always there.
What are the credentials you get from this opportunity?
Berlitz is a multinational language educational service provider, and it does speak for itself. They provide me with a valuable service letter at the end of the internship. Also, the AIESEC leadership recognition I get is valuable too. I got recognized as an ESL (English as a secondary language) teacher and as a leader. It really does add value to my profile, and this is an opportunity I don’t want to miss.
In your words, how would you describe your whole experience?
When I got this, I felt like I deserved it because I’ve sacrificed a good part of my time in building a family. I’m married, and I have a five-year-old daughter, and at the same time, I really want to work on my education and career, so it’s like a roller coaster. I want to be on it, I know it’s going to be difficult, but then again, I want to be on it. It’s worth it, and the experience is great. My family is very supportive, and I’m very happy, but it’s not easy since you are away from your family, but it all is worthy of what I have chosen to pursue.
How valuable is this opportunity would you explain to someone who is uncertain about working in a foreign country?
Well, if it’s because of Covid-19 or other reasons that someone is reluctant to grab an opportunity like this, what I have to say is that Covid- 19 is not going to stick forever or end anytime soon. If we are going to say no to opportunities just because of it, we are going to have to say no to a lot of things for a long time. It will be a waste of time and an opportunity, I would say.
So, if you muster up a little courage and think about it hard, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to regret it. If you think you’ve got what it takes, go ahead and give it a chance to see where it takes you. If you think you can’t do this even before you try it out, it looks like you are going to miss a lot of opportunities. Think rationally, wisely, and be bold enough since opportunities like this don’t come twice.
By Lakmi Illuksooriya
Showcasing Team – AIESEC in USJ