AIESEC helps students find new perspective through cultural immersion

Non-profit organization sends students around the world


Photo by Courtney Kueppers

Nick Bustle, senior international business and finance major, tables for AIESEC last Friday in Davies.

Story by Brian Sheridan, Staff Writer

As students are seeking a chance to explore the world and make a difference, they’re turning to AIESEC for help. AIESEC (pronounced “Isaac”) is a student-run, non-profit organization that looks to send students to different countries for volunteer programs, internships and cultural immersion experience.

AIESEC is a French acronym translated to “International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences” and is a global organization with a chapter right here at UW-Eau Claire. The organization is similar to the study abroad program on campus but will work with you to create a unique experience tailored to your wants, needs and even your major.

The programs offered by AIESEC can be used to fulfill educational requirements, such as teaching English in a foreign country, or can be used to work with companies across the world as an intern to obtain skills in marketing, leadership and networking. Brandon Cedarblade, vice president of account delivery, said programs can be made specially for the individual so they receive the unique experience they desire.

“We like to focus on creating social responsibility and social entrepreneurship within young leaders,” Cedarblade said. “As soon as they sign up for the program they’re matched with someone in the actual organization who will help them find the opportunity that works best for them for the time-frame, what they’ll actually be doing and what they want to gain out of it.”

Students in the United States can use the AIESEC database and look at over 120 countries to find the opportunity right for them. The different chapters of AIESEC communicate on a international level through the student’s time abroad to ensure a smooth transition.

“When we send (students) over there, it’s not like we’re sending them to a random country and say have fun or whatever,” Cedarblade said. “There is actually another AIESEC chapter there receiving them. They’ll pick them up at the airport, show them where they’ll be staying for their internship or community development experience.”

Even if one decided against using an AIESEC program, the organization can give you direction in the host country during one’s time abroad.. The chapter in Japan helped Nick Bustle, vice president of business development, find his way around the country.

“They gave me a place to stay for the night,” Bustle said. “They showed me around Yokohama, showed me around their university, and then gave me a map to figure out how to navigate the Tokyo train system to eventually get to Kyoto.”

Members of AIESEC are working to help spread the name and to get more students involved. Bustle said he hopes to be similar to the chapter in India who receive thousands of applicants a year.

The Eau Claire chapter is looking to send about 40 students abroad this summer, Kevin Maina, vice president of marketing, said. The organization is currently looking to further integrate itself into Eau Claire in hopes of greater recognition.

“AIESEC is one the world’s best kept secrets,” Cedarblade said. “Other countries, tons of people know about but them but here in the U.S. it’s not as well known. Once we’re able to get ourselves out there more, show more people know we’re here, what we have to offer them, it’ll grow our committee a lot.”

Maina said there are programs available for all types of majors and people.

“You get to work with people from different countries and different backgrounds and it’s just a way for you to see the world in a different way,” Maina said. “By doing that you’re able to expand your knowledge within what you do and within your life.”