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5 Reasons why AIESEC leaders are Exceptional

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t want to go but ought to be”

                                                         – Rosalynn Carter

 

At some point in our life, each of us has played the role of a leader. Maybe the monitor or the team leader of a primary class; Maybe a society president; Maybe the leader of the project group at the university, or perhaps a company manager or CEO. No matter how big or small the role is, leadership always shapes an individuals’ life in many ways. One might not succeed as a leader at their maiden attempt, but the risks they took and the failures they encountered help to make a better future leader out of them.

When it comes to creating leadership, AIESEC always has a unique story to tell. Here is where Rosalynn Carters’ golden words apply to AIESEC. An AIESECer, as a leader, does not just lead his fellow men where they want to go but directs them towards much greater heights where they did not ever expect to reach. That’s why an AIESECer isn’t just a leader but a great leader. Why is an AIESECer considered exceptional as a leader? Here are five reasons.

 

1. Ready to take risks

No one could ever do something remarkable by playing within the safe zone. If one can be brave enough to step out of their comfort zone, one can make miracles happen. That is why an AIESECer does not fear to take risks from the very beginning of their journey. AIESEC provides youth with opportunities to experience it practically, so they quickly adapt to challenging situations and actively find solutions.

As we all are aware, all the physical workspaces had to be shifted to virtual platforms with the Covid -19 pandemic situation. Since this is a major barrier for carrying out the AIESEC exchange programs, AIESEC came up with the novel initiative “Heading for The Future” (H4TF) as an alternative through which the skillful young people can get corporate exposure virtually and add value to their skills such as video editing, content writing, and content presenting. H4TF is the best recent example of how AIESECers co-op up with turbulent situations. They do not wait for the storm to pass. They figure a way out to sail even the stormiest seas instead. It is an important leadership quality with which an AIESECers’ personality is shaped.

 

 

2.Has cross-cultural understanding

 

How would it feel like if you got a chance to step all by yourself into a country that you have only seen in photographs and work as a team with a group of youngsters around your age, from different corners of the world? Initially, it might not go smoothly due to the many social, cultural, and other differences between each other. But as you gradually begin to embrace the diversity, accept and respect their values and ethics, it will turn into the best team you’ve ever worked with. AIESEC provides this cross-cultural experience to make individuals more flexible, so they have sound knowledge and great sensitivity about different cultures. It affects the leadership approach of an AIESECer so that they do not hesitate to share knowledge with their teammates and value their ideas, views/opinions regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or any other social and cultural deviations.

 

 

3.Does not discriminate their fellow people on any basis

 

As mentioned earlier, an AIESECers’ mindset is constantly trained to embrace the diversity among the people around them. Inclusiveness is a key-value upon which their personality is built. An AIESECer does not discriminate against anyone based on their gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, creed, religion, or national, ethnic, and social origin. Therefore, under the leadership of an AIESECer, anyone is free to bear their own opinion, and their ideas will always be valued. It allows them to make the best out of their potential. This is the kind of leadership that the present world needs when many people are still being discriminated especially based on their sexual orientation. 

 

 

4.Isn’t just someone who only gives commands

 

“A leader is someone who assigns the relevant tasks to their followers and gives them commands” is the typical attitude borne by most people about leadership. But the leadership of an AIESECer is far different from that. In AIESEC, leadership isn’t all about assigning tasks and giving commands. If you happen to work on a team led by an AIESECer, one thing you’ll clearly notice is that they guide you while sharing a significant portion of the workload to be completed by the team members. In case if you have issues communicating with your teammates, your leader will always make sure to carry things out in a way that all the team members are familiar with, so you won’t feel uncomfortable. Moreover, an AIESECer is trained to pay particular attention to each team member as a leader. Their leadership attitude is brought up so that they make their team members their priority, not themselves.

 

 

5. Well organized and excellent at time management

 

A responsible leader values time over everything else since nothing can be substituted for time. That’s why an AIESEC leader always has well-organized agenda for both organizational work and personal commitments. By taking ownership of their time, they improve the quality and the quantity of the done by their team members. Through that, they contribute to improving the efficiency of the organization as well. This is why AIESEC leaders work smarter rather than harder. 

 

This is just a handful out of the numerous reasons why an AIESECer is outstanding as a leader. AIESEC is always focused on creating a young global citizen with unmatched leadership attributes. If you are an energetic individual willing to find the leader within you, AIESEC is there to help. AIESEC assures you that you will, one day, be stepping into the world of work as the best leader you can be. Not as just a leader, but as a great leader who turns “Impossible” into “I’m possible.”

By Thilini Thilakarathna

Content Writer | AIESEC in University of Peradeniya

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Uncategorized

Why it’s time we give Youth Mental Health the attention it deserves

It’s a never-ending rat race…

 

Goals, targets, expectations and hopes. We are trapped in an unfortunate rat race where success is defined by how long our CV is, respect is shown only if we are a doctor, or an engineer and our intellect is measured by the GPA. We live in a world where career success has dominated our life priorities and happiness has become an additional need. Take a moment and contemplate, when was the last time you laughed so hard to the point you cried? When was the last time you felt grateful for being young and alive? When was the last time you felt like you could do anything and everything? We are living a life where being stressed out, submitting assignment after assignment and countless sleepless nights have become the new normal. Life doesn’t have to be this cruel maze, it’s finally the time we take a breather

Mental Health doesn’t define you, but it’s time we talk about it…

“Mental illnesses are the chronic diseases of the young” 

According to a study conducted by Patrick et al. (2007) in Australia, the prevalence of mental health problems among adolescents aged 13-17 years is 19% and increases to 27% among young adults aged 18–24 years. Different psychological and psychiatric studies conducted in multiple developed and developing countries across the past decades have shown that prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depression is higher among university students compared with the general population. Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, overworking the body and the stress related to financial difficulties, failed relationships, pressure to do well in academics and the stress of finding a job after graduating are direct causes for depression and anxiety among undergraduates. Lack of desire to do usual activity, suicidal ideations, extreme negative view of self, sleep issues, disturbances in appetite, slow speech and movement are some of the symptoms that maybe experienced. 

 

Beauty is the beast…

Instagram, Facebook, Tik-Tok! Posting, Commenting, Liking!

These modern applications have built a novel wave of “Beauty Standards” which is swarming through society. Whether you are in your teens, 20’s or 30’s, beauty standards have no limitation. Whether you are female or male, beauty standards have no boundaries. Everyone who uses social media knowingly or unknowingly becomes a prey of this ruthless predator. Social media influencers and brands have created unattainable and unrealistic social standards which have an adverse effect on society.

“Too fat, too skinny, too tall, too anything. There’s a sense that we are all ‘too’ something, and we are not all enough. This is life. Our bodies change, our minds change, our hearts change.” – Emma Stone

High beauty standards come with its share of mental illnesses such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. BDD is a mental illness caused by excess worrying about defects or flaws in our appearance. Behaviors associated with eating disorders include restrictive eating or avoidance of certain foods, vomiting after meals and compulsive exercises. Hence, we should ask ourselves whether it’s worth sacrificing our mental health just to “fit” the society. 

 

It’s time we end the stigma and change lives…

 In Sri Lanka, psychological abnormalities are still stigmatized to the point where receiving adequate treatment is a reason to be disregarded in society. Sri Lanka is a conventional country with a deeply rooted traditional and a cultural background. Therefore, the concept of mental illness and mental health assistance is far from being a norm in society. Thus, the number of people who accept it and come forth to receive adequate mental help is still a rare incident. Sri Lankans don’t view mental disorders as an illness which requires treatment and rather see it as a condition that will get better eventually. Deprivation of proper mental health assistance can result in severe depression or in the worst-case scenario, suicide. Sri Lanka Medical Association, (2019) lists frustration and loneliness as major causes for suicide.

 

Wish we were taught about this in school…

 

The younger generation doesn’t get a proper education regarding mental health as much as physical health in the local education system. That is a main cause for mental disorders to be viewed as a distant concept. McLean (2019) states that the breaking down of stigma and misconceptions about mental illness must start in schools for it is where teens hone their sense of self-worth. Were we taught in school that depression is as deadly as brain cancer? and that anxiety is a cause for suicide? It’s time mental wellbeing received equal importance and from an early age, children should be educated about mental illnesses, they should be allowed to freely associate with others with disabilities, thus providing self-learning methods and helping them to be more open minded.

 

It’s time we take charge of our own mental wellbeing for no one else is going to do it for us…

This is our life. Taking care of our body and mind is our responsibility. Make your happiness and mental health the priority. Life is not just about deadlines and exams, take time to enjoy the little things in life that make it truly beautiful. There is no replay or rewind button in life, so live it to the fullest. 

References

McGorry, P. D. et al. (2007). The logic and plan for achieving early intervention in youth mental health in Australia. Investing in youth mental health is a best buy. 187(7). 

McLean, J. (2019 January 2). Why is Mental Health Education in Schools So Important? thedoctorweighsin.com https://thedoctorweighsin.com/mental-health-education-schools/

 

Sri Lanka Medical Association, (2019 December). Suicide Prevention in Sri Lanka. Recommendations for Action.

By Venuri Perera

Content Writer | AIESEC in University of Peradeniya

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News

Lesson For Future, 2020 ; A Project For Safer Future Generation.

If someone asked you, what is an ideal world for you? I’m sure a lot of things would come into your mind that you would wish to have in your definition of a perfect world to live in. But I could describe an ideal world in just one sentence; “ The Earth once we reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. That is my version of a perfect world. But at the moment, everyone including me, simply has one definition for a perfect world, that is “a pandemic free world”. Well, SDGs include that as well. The 3rd SDG is “Good health and well-being” where the target 3.3 of the SDG 3 is simply to fight communicable diseases such as the COVID-19. As AIESECers we all are aware of these SDGs, their impact and how we can work towards them as an individual or as a whole but most of the youth and the young children are unaware of them and we at AIESEC in Kandy, always thought of it as one of our duties to make the younger generations aware of these goals. That is why we have taken initiatives like organizing “World’s Largest Lesson” in partnership with UNICEF even in the past, where we approached an audience of more than 8000 and educated them about the sustainable development goals. But with the recent situation that we are facing, we thought that it is important to emphasize on the ‘SDG #3: Good Health and Well-being’. Also, we found it essential to educate people about the public health safety measures related to COVID-19. For that, we initiated “Lesson for future 2020”.

A Lesson for Future, was a program initiated by AIESEC in University of Peradeniya with the guidance of AIESEC in Sri Lanka to educate the school children about the public safety protocols implemented by the government due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis along with explaining the importance and the relevance of Sustainable development goal 3; “Good Health and Well being”. Our aim was to conduct a lesson for an audience of more than 5000 students in online platforms belonging to nearly 100 classes throughout the island, in a single day with the help of nearly 200 volunteers, on the above-mentioned protocols. On the 8th of July, our volunteers used virtual platforms like zoom, MS teams, google meet and etc. to conduct this lesson on public health safety practices while incorporating Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being and indeed made it a lesson for the future for all the students who participated.

But all of these didn’t happen overnight. Our organizing committee led by the organizing committee president, Denuka Jayaweera worked hard day and night to make this event a success. Given that this event had to be entirely virtual, they had to face a lot of challenges. Despite the current situation of the world, AIESEC in University of Peradeniya has been active with huge projects like VSUMMER , Let’s Reboot and other internal events and that made it difficult to find enough volunteers for the Lesson For Future event. That was one of the biggest challenges they had to face but collaborating with other AIESEC entities in Sri Lanka, AIESEC in Kathmandu, AIESEC in Kathmandu University and the Rotaract Club of University of Peradeniya made it a little easier to get the required number of facilitators. We had more than 200 volunteers as facilitators at the end. Organizing Committee Vice President for human resources Chirangsri Ihalavithana master minded this whole process. Once they found enough volunteers, next challenge was to find a way to train them. Need not to say, that has to take up virtual platforms as well. The volunteer training sessions were based on the lesson itself and on the technical aspects. Luckily organizing committee vice presidents for Marketing and Communications Minidu Liyanage, Apil Bhattarai and Girishikan Selvaratnam were very capable of handling these situations along with many other Campaigns they did to promote LFF. As we were approaching different schools all over the country, students were used to different platforms depending on what the schools used in distance learning. So, it was not possible to use one single platform for us thus our organizing committee trained the volunteers to effectively use several online platforms in 4 different training sessions prior to the event so that the lesson could be effectively delivered. Lesson For Future being a fully virtual event created many network issues as well and our official network partners came for the rescue; Vencer Studios, Envie, White Code, Business Review Lanka, International Youth Alliance for Peace, Range Eye, Perabeats Life. The hard work of the organizing committee vice presidents for Partnership Development and Public Relationships M.N.F Hilma and Chamuditha Guruge and the immense support from the Executive body of AIESEC in University of Peradeniya was a crucial for the success of “Lesson For Future 2020” as well. The co-operation from the school teachers and the principals from the relevant schools contributed greatly to our success.

The key objective of conducting “Lesson For Future 2020” was to equip the future generation of Sri Lanka with the knowledge about the public safety protocols implemented by the government to protect the country from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as well as similar outbreaks in the future while making them aware of the importance of the SDG 3, “Good health and Well-being”. Romali Perera,Organizing committee vice president for research and development was in charge of this aspect. With her hard work, on the 8th of July, 2020,we achieved our goal by approaching an audience of more than 5000 from more than 100 classes throughout the island just as we planned to. Our audience was from the ages 12 to 16 and we had structured our lesson to suit our audiences in a rather creative manner with digitized visual aids. We also organized a competition in line with the the event where the participants could send us any creative content on the topic “What I can do to Protect Myself, My Family & Friends from the Corona virus, to make Sri Lanka a healthier country”.A winner will be selected from each Class Room, leading to more than 100 winners from 100+ class rooms and a digital certificate will be awarded for them. Among them, Top 10 winners will be selected & their creations will be published in our Facebook Event with the name, school of the winners and a digital certificate will be awarded for them as well. The top ten winners will be given gifts by our Official Gifts Partners; Shan Bookshop Kandy & Cake-a-licious. Networking this many schools was not an easy task but organizing committee vice presidents for Networking; Kaushalya Rathnayake, Piumika Gunarathne and Dammini Angammana made this immense task a possibility. All this might just have been a dream if it wasn’t for Event Managers Hashan Thilakarathne and Priyadharshani Sivalingam, they pointed out every should and shouldn’t and steered the committee in the right direction.

We believe that, even though “Lesson For Future 2020” was a tiny step to reach the Sustainable development goal 3; “Good health and Well-being”, it made a huge impact on each and every student who took part in our event.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Live a Dream to Get Out of a Nightmare – COVID-19

With the marking of a new decade,2020 brought the world a lot of significant issues that would be remembered as history even few decades later. COVID-19, more commonly known as “Corona” is yet the biggest issue so far. COVID-19 has introduced some new terms to the world such as “Corona”,“Pandemic”, “Quarantine” which have not been familiar to one, unless they are related to the medical field. Having a proper idea such terms related to COVID-19, how to keep yourself from getting the disease and how to avoid spreading of the disease are very important at the moment.

The WHO has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. Epidemic is rather a familiar term to the public compared to the term pandemic. In simple terms ,an epidemic is defined as “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population while the term ​ pandemic ​relates to geographic spread and is used to describe a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world. Usually infectious diseases are the kind of diseases that would develop into a state of an epidemic or an pandemic. Most of the times, the causative agent of an infectious disease is a micro-organism. Even though COVID-19 is more commonly called as the Corona virus, Coronavirus is the family to which the causative virus of COVID-19 belongs to. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).The name coronavirus is derived from the Latin corona, meaning “crown” or “halo”, which refers to the characteristic appearance reminiscent of a crown or a solar corona around the virions (virus particles) when viewed under two-dimensional ​transmission electron microscopy​, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes.
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a strain called SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. This name was given because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. Corona viruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying chronic medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. Also, people who are smoking has high chance of getting the disease and developing severe symptoms than non smokers. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Reducing the chances of being infected and spreading COVID-19 are the best ways to stop or slowdown the outbreaks. First and foremost, avoiding crowded places is the best to avoid catch and spread of the disease. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands therefore regularly and thoroughly cleaning your hands with an
alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water is very important. But it is not always possible, hands touch many surfaces, thus can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make one sick so it should be practiced to avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease. So maintaining at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing is advisable. Need of wearing a mask to avoid the disease has bevome a debatable issue. But according to the WHO, there is need to wear a mask only if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. . As there is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and mis-use of masks.Covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze proper disposal of the used tissues is another step that can be taken to avoid the spreading of the disease.

But are these things enough to stop the spreading is the bigger question out there. The virus is mainly spreading through person to person-to-person contact but with the increase of the number of patients it can go into a community spread. To avoid that, quarantine of the suspected patients and isolation of confirmed patients are necessary. Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease. Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease like COViD-19 from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of the disease. Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease. These processes are done in order to control the disease. Many countries are carrying out quarantine programs specially for passengers arriving from highly affected countries and people who have been in close contact with a confirmed patient. It is more of a moral responsibility to support such programs rather than to go against them. As the symptoms of COVID-19 can appear within 2-14 days of exposure, there is a chance of people who are carrying the virus to not to show symptoms or show only very mild symptoms, an infected person could be engaging in daily activities like usual, but while doing that he or she may be spreading the virus to others. If such a person would be present in a mass gathering, there is a huge risk of that person becoming a super spreader. A “super spreader” is someone who infects more people with a disease than the average person does. Patient 31 of South Korea is an example for such a super spreader who ignored her symptoms and went on with normal routine including participating in services at a church which gathers a large number of people.

Some countries might take actions to temporarily ban massive gatherings and even to lock down cities depending on the situation, but as responsible citizens,it is the responsibility of people to avoid all unnecessary outings. If one has to go out, washing or sanitizing the hands and avoid touching the eyes,nose and mouth are the bare minimum one can do to avoid getting sick. If one suspects to be having symptoms, the best thing is to seek medical advice in a proper manner. Most countries facing this epidemic has arranged government medical services specialized to handle COVID-19 patients so even if you have the slightest symptoms, going into self quarantine and seeking medical help from proper authorities is the wisest thing to do. Being vigilant is the next most important factor. Knowing the situation within the country,state,city or town which you know is a must. Be aware of the disease management protocol of your country and what to do if you are sick accordingly.

Some countries might have their own remedies for cold and flu like diseases. Also some food like garlic have become popular as a cure or prevention for COVID-19. Even though there is no enough scientific research done to prove any of them, there can or can not be such preventative actions in them but it is a fact that too much of anything is always adverse. So rather than abusing them, using them in adequate quantities would be effective. Prevention is always better than cure, but in this case, there is no cure. Scientific research is still going on and soon a cure will be developed but till then the only hope is prevention. It is an individual’s responsibility to protect themselves and others from communicable diseases like this. In situations like these, people tend to mentally distressed but it can take a toll on our immunity system where as it is the only thing that we can rely on to avoid the disease and also to cure it if one gets the disease. In such situations it is normal to seek help in religion but some times large no of people are gathered in the name of religion,specially in eastern countries, expecting to get rid of the disease but in turn such incidents contribute to unimaginable no of cases reported. In modern days, anything and everything is at our hands with smart phones and internet, so why not the religion. At the same time, the same technology can become the problem because a perfect 8 hours of sleep is necessary in maintaining the health of immunity system. Eating good food is also said to boost immunity. So literally, a lazy man’s time table is the best at the moment which always has been the dream of a working man. As the world has half way stopped functioning, most of us given paid leave, we should live our dream preferably a little cleaner than usual, in order to not put the ones who are living a nightmare having to work even now ,that too with disease carrying patients in danger.

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