Fri, Mar 23rd, 2018
The IAESTE programme organises paid traineeships for third-level students, and also runs a number of training and motivation events for its student volunteers. Edwin Henry (here supporting the IAESTE pyramid at bottom right) from the Dublin Local Committee reports on his experiences at a recent event in Belgium, IAESTE Connect.
My name is Edwin Henry and I have recently joined the IAESTE Dublin Local Committee (LC). I joined the committee after I came back from my IAESTE traineeship in China in 2017. My experience there motivated me to volunteer with IAESTE Ireland, as I saw first-hand the benefit of the organisation to both trainees and volunteers. I wanted to be involved in the future of the organisation. My favourite thing about IAESTE from my time in China was the diversity of people you meet from all over the world, and the things you can learn from each other.
Last week myself and another IAESTE Dublin LC member were in Belgium attending the Connect Region 2018 conference, hosted by IAESTE Belgium. This was my first international event as part of the Dublin LC. Connect is a gathering of 20 mainly western and eastern European IAESTE LCs. However, members from as far away as Australia and China were present. The purpose of the conference is knowledge sharing among IAESTE members. This is mainly done through workshops provided by experienced IAESTE members. I participated in workshops on Project Management, Social Media Marketing, Connect Region Development, Event Management, and Conflict Resolution. My two favourite workshops were Social Media Marketing and Event Management. The skills and knowledge I gained during these workshops I believe will help me immensely in furthering IAESTE Ireland. The main takeaway point from the Social Media Marketing workshop is to have a consistent presence on Facebook, with frequent and interesting posts that use the global IAESTE Branding Manual. For the Event Management workshop the main takeaway was to always expect unexpected events and to try and prepare for these as best you can! I also learned that you need to be flexible, ready to act and improvise quickly during the event.
The most enjoyable aspect of the conference was meeting new people from all over the world with all the different cultures: this is of course my favourite thing about IAESTE. On the last night of the conference there was an international evening where each country set up a table with some of their country’s food and drink. This evening coincided with St Patrick’s Day, making it particularly enjoyable for the Irish! Walking around the room and looking at each table, it was fascinating to see the differences and similarities in cultures. Sharing all of our cultures was a great way of making meaningful connections. I am happy to say I have made many new lifelong friends at the conference who share the same IAESTE spirit as myself.
This year we are planning a number of events for incoming trainees in Ireland. These include weekend trips to Galway and Dublin, a surfing trip to Lahinch and a meet up in Belfast with IAESTE Northern Ireland. The meetup with Northern Ireland is particularly exciting for the trainees, but also for the Dublin LC as it will give me my first taste of organising a collaborative event with another IAESTE LC. I hope that some of the skills and relationships that I gained at the connect conference will ensure a successful trip.
Speaking with the other IAESTE members I have become very motivated to expand IAESTE in Ireland, as I now see the remarkable things that are possible with the right amount of motivation and hard work. For the future of LC Dublin, I hope we grow and are one day able to emulate in Ireland the amazing conference put on by IAESTE Belgium.
Images courtesy of Edwin Henry. We welcome contributions to ‘Insights’ at email@example.com.