Andrea went on a volunteering internship with AIESEC: read his story.
Andrea Cuozzo is a 21 year-old university student living in Pavia and he is also a member of AIESEC , the world’s largest student driven organization. He went on an AIESEC volunteering internship to Cairo.
- What are you studying? Which university are you attending?
I am studying Management at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Pavia, Italy.
-What kind of internship did you choose and why?
I have chosen a MOVE Impact program because I thought that before participating to a professional internship abroad you should try the experience of living abroad for 6 weeks working in a volunteering environment. I chose this program to have a social impact, to gain a global mindset and improve understanding, besides improving personal skills and work on my self awareness.
-Which country and which city did you go to?
I was in Egypt in the city of Cairo and I lived in the neighborhood of Dokki in Giza.
-How long did your internship last?
It lasted 6 weeks.
-What was your internship about exactly?
I worked for a nonprofit organization that provides consultancy services for young entrepreneurs in Egypt. This NGO is helping these entrepreneurs by teaching them how to use properly management tools and by connecting entrepreneurs, companies and startups. Their purpose is to create a better Egypt by empowering these young talented entrepreneurs and purposeful companies. I was working in the Business Development and Marketing field to create a new structure to attract new people and to develop new products and services.
-Five things you learnt during the internship:
1)What seems obvious for us, may not be obvious for other people or for other cultures.
2)The importance of listening: it seems obvious, but sometimes it is really needed to survive and it allows you to discover more about the speaker.
3) There is always a compromise: everything is negotiable.
4) I learnt how difficult it is to integrate in an international environment and in a new group of people, and to simply show who you truly are, always being open to talk with everyone, also with people you didn't know before and that you don't have to prejudge. Everyone has a story to tell and something to teach!
5) Be curious! This strong experience helped me to discover the good that is in simple things that we usually do not notice, lost in our chaotic daily routine. Being curious is the most important thing in life for me and I re-discovered the beauty of being curious about yourself, about culture, religion, food, traditions, people, history.
-Why did you choose to go to Egypt in particular?
Actually it was not my choice from the beginning. I would have liked to go to a Muslim country, so I was looking for projects in Bahrain, Qatar or United Arab Emirates. But then a friend of mine told me about this project in Egypt and that it would have fit me; so I trusted him and now I’m very grateful for having made that choice.
-What was the best moment of your experience?
The highlight moment of this internship was during a holiday when we climbed Mount Sinai, a 17 km walk in the night from 2am till 6am, without light and without knowing how many or what kind of roads we were going to walk through!
It has been the most powerful experience of my life: the idea of living such an adventure seems impossible, but what makes the difference is sharing the road with other people, my friends and colleagues, and aiming at the same goal, with the same effort to reach the same satisfaction. This experience for me has been literally an expression of the humankind potential.
-Would you change your experience in any way?
No, in the good and in the bad things changing something wouldn’t be worth it!
-Any suggestions for students who are about to leave on an AIESEC internship?
Expect the unexpectable, ask for everything, do your homework about the country and be as open as possible: it is the only way to enjoy the experience and to find whatever you were looking for.