Sunday, May 10, 2009

The beginning :)

"Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed"!!!

I started my experience in Rotterdam, Netherlands with this phrase in my mind ... phrase in which I fully believe in right now :)
I started my journey in AIESEC International, a dream I had since I was 18 (small and innocent Mali having just few months in AIESEC :p), with a lot of emotions and strong will to make it the best time of my life!!!

I started my new life in a country I always wanted to visit (on the plane I just remembered about Ale and Ioana, my 2 twin classmates and very good friends, that they brought once to a class a girl from Netherlands that showed us everything about the country: culture, landscape, and most incredible "treasures"- windmills, cheese, flower especially tulips, fruits and vegetables, green fields and natural way of life). Since then I said to myself ... I should at least go and visit this country :P And I did!!! I am here :D

I started my transition with my heart open to learn and enjoy this 4 months together with the old and new team :)

And what can I say until now ... is that I truly and clearly love it!!!!!

I love Rotterdam even though a lot of people were telling me not so good things about the city ... I love the fact that is quiet (I think is the perfect thing I needed) ... that is green and tidy ... that I can find the mango and platanos from Dominican Republic :P; kiwi, strawberries and any kind of fruits and vegetables I could wish for ... cheese and fish :D; flowers all around ... that I can feel safe and calm :)

I love the rooms we are staying in, especially Mo's room :) I feel like home :D

I love the office :D even though there are a lot of things we can redesign there :P
I love the feeling I have working at a global level ... the knowledge and information you get connected with ... the decisions you make. I love my day to day transition and things I would be managing next year (some of the people will say I am crazy ... but I truly enjoy them :D ).

I feel like a child that is again discovering the world!!!
I feel I am taking the most out of it ... right now, enjoying things I didn't do that much in the last 6 years ... walk around and discover, sleep how much I want, watch TV, eat all day long salads and fruits :P

I feel good!!!! I feel I started a simply and happy life here :)



I've seen the name of this street a lot of times on different AIESEC documents or websites but never imagined I am going to work here for 2 years :)



The flower market :)



AIESEC International's office



My favorite place from Mo's room (remembers me of my room in Cluj, especially the way I can see the moon and sky during the night)

Why this was the experience of my life?

AIESEC has this incredible power as an organization to always offer us more and more, "give us 10 times more than we invest" ... to see if we can take it and if we learn from each and every second spent together with some incredible and talented people :) So that is why I believe I can not end my story in Dominican Republic without mentioning the people that had a big impact upon me and the things I take for myself from this experience :D

So I will start with my team ... so diverse and so challenging ... asking and offering so much :):):) Definitely demonstrated me that if you are not strong enough, you can never guide some people towards a common goal ... that leadership is not about being the first or being the main character ... but in demonstrating day by day your passion and energy towards ACTIONs!!! not WORDs!!! I talked about Raga and Javi when they left (what did they mean for me and my experience) but I never stopped to talk about the girls: Pato and Lauris ... the 2 lovely girls that: were there for me from the very first day till the end; demonstrated me that the purpose is more important than personal comfort or personal interest; i can trust them with my own life <3

Lauris ... a passionate and hard working person ... always striving to be the best and demonstrate professionalism until the last minute ... the person that was most of the time against our believes and decisions (mostly because she was the only one that had a clue upon what can and can not be not in the country). I learned to admire so much her power to sustain constantly her opinions (even against 4 foreigners not at all easy to manage :P), to fight for her dreams and always be there. A totally "feeling person" (even though she was not showing it a lot of times :P) she was the person that helped me in becoming more strong, flexible, adapt faster to the situations and see the things behind the appearances :):):) She fully demonstrated what my mother was always saying to me "in small bottles is where the strong essences are". The one and only regret I have is that so few times I actually told her how much I admire her and what she meant for me ...



Pato ... so hard to be able to write down what Pato meant for me ... pictures and moments can not stop coming to my head ... always the 2 of us together (going to the bank, meeting the Alumni, doing shopping in Pola and reading the stupid magazines to relax, cook, clean, talk about everything, enjoyed eating an ice cream or some biscuits with the only money we had); sharing each and every pesos, each and every second, each and every memory from our lives; smiling and crying together; being there the strong or the soft ones; being able to pass together over all the challenges and end our experiences fulfilled ... being close also in the next year, :) at least on the same continent :P I found in Pato the connection I never had with my sister, the one person that is so much similar but so much different than me ... the person I trust and admire for what she is and demonstrated this year!!! The strong one but so soft deep inside, 100% dedicated to something she is putting her mind into, the mother of the house :) I will always have in my heart these special moment and would be eternal thankful for the support you meant for me this year ... I know I couldn't have passed so many of the though moments without you :):):)

My girls I know for sure we are going to see each other in Europe!!! :)
Rotterdam, Bonn and Belgium??? Let's see :D

My virtual angels :) Marco and Hugo

Only they know my deepest thoughts ... my hard and happy moments ... or maybe they didn't always know ... but they had the power to always make me feel good and supported ... always bringing a new perspective, a smile or positive attitude ... sharing our experiences made me feel close to them even if we were million kilometers away :)

Marco! My dear :) Day and night, Monday to Sunday, 24/7 connected and there for a talk ... being it about the GN Board, Financial Sustainability task force :P or simply us and our experiences :D The magic time in Rio and you helping me achieve my dream; MMM; taking care of me in Sao Paolo; the incredible present you've sent me; the action plan :d and now the letter :):):) How could I ever be thankful for what you did for me this year??? I will never forget ... "if is not good, that means that is not the end" :)



Hugo! :)How can you ignore one person for so much time and 2 years later to realize the incredible connection you can have with that person? :D Definitely strange and funny ... the turning ways of life :) Starting in IC with a random meeting and continuing with endless talks each day about our experiences as MCPs ... random or totally deep discussion, I got to realize how few things can build a special relationship if you find that "click" between 2 people ... I will be for ever thankful for Hugo's way of showing me (I don't know if it was conscious or not)the road to take during those though months ... that only by enjoying your experience, having the positive attitude and smiling you are going to be able to take and offer the best of you!!! :) Our emails, presents and talks will always remain in my heart ... always being unstoppable!!!



These and much much more people made my experience worth it!!! :D <3 :*
And still why this was the experience of my life??? :D

Because I realize thinking and writing all these posts about my experience in Dominican Republic, that I am different ... that each and every second from my experience built the new person I am today :) Because:

I feel I am a happy person :) I know that is strange, but since I was little my one and only hope and wish I had, was to find happiness and offer happiness ... and until getting to Dominican Republic I couldn't say I did ... actually I had it all along but I couldn't open my eyes and see it, I couldn't touch it!!! I was waiting for the "big waw" ... "that thing" that was going to make me 100% happy and was not enjoying each and every moment!!!

I gained so much energy and passion :) I truly feel now more alive than I was when I entered AIESEC ... more aware of myself (with good and bad) ... I feel in the same time I became more strict, pushy and reactive; demanding a lot from myself and people around me .. I feel strong, free and confident ... Even though I know I didn't rich that "full level", I can say I have more confidence in myself and the impact I can bring around me :)

Hope and power to fight for your dreams!!! Being selected in Dominican Republic after such a powerful experience in the Romanian elections (and considering all my path until now in AIESEC) I got to believe in my friends words: "good things happen to good people" :):):) But being part of this experience made me understand more the power of your thoughts and wishes ... I realize you do achieve your dreams if you fully believe in them with all your heart and mind ... people can laugh at you, challenge you ... but you are the only one that can make them true, that can make the other people believe in them!!! I have a lot of examples from these experiences when we actually gave our last drop of energy but we achieved our objectives because we fully believed in them ... yes we did a lot of mistakes, yes we missed doing things ... but in the end is important what you leave behind and what the spirit you end your experience with :D

I end my experience with this important lessons about myself and life ... with many other that maybe I would realize only later but I will begin my next life changing experience knowing that:

I am truly happy and proud
I gave everything in my power this year to have an impact
I have a unique place in this world that I can call my second "home"
I have new friends I can always rely on :)

My 11 months and 11 days :)

I started my unique story in leaving the Bucharest airport with the confidence that is going to be a great year ... didn't even know that good what is going to expect me there(all my researches were sending me to lovely beaches and resorts, so I was sure it was not all about that but I couldn't picture in my head the country, people, experiences I am going to pass through) ... had a small general picture of what AIESEC is doing in the country (later during the year I realize it was totally different than what was actually happening) ... I knew I am starting my road with a Colombian girl (Patricia my VP Finance), a Dominican girl (Laura my VP ER) and a Romanian guy I kind of knew before (Raga my second VPER or whatever we called the position at that point :P) ... I knew I am going there to help and transmit all my 5 years of experience to AIESEC in Dominican Republic (a country in Latin America, the region I wanted so much to leave in)...everything else was a total mystery :)

Got to Madrid airport and had my first shock ... seeing all "morenito" and "bling blig" guys waiting for the Santo Domingo plane :P; got to my destination and met the only person I was more close to in the entire country, Felipe; spent a great night in some restaurants close to the beach where everything was part of a movie ... full moon, incredible blue water and white sand, natural fruit cocktails! Loved it!!

And it all started ... getting to know Santo Domingo (loud and crazy, diverse colors, lovely flowers and palm trees everywhere, a lot of garbage on the streets, everybody with a smile on their face and singing in any circumstance, challenging means of transportation, fruits I never tasted in my life) and our big common office and house; getting to know Pato, Paula and Laura; first frustrations regarding the fact that I couldn't speak Spanish and I was feeling like a "handicap" person ... just smiling during the company meetings and saying to everybody "buenos dias" (even though it was the middle of the day or afternoon) :P

Transition and planning passed very fast and begun our eternal challenges with money (debts and guarantees we had to pay) and members involvement. Javier (a Colombian trainee that was interested in working part time in the MC as communications responsible) became part of the team and together Pato, Lauris, Javi and me started to do members and EP recruitment ... failed terribly ... main reason ... we were having the expectation everything is going to be like in Colombia and Romania (strong promotion and 300-400 people are going to come to the Big Picture) ... 5 people came and none applied as member ... nobody applied as EP after one week of intense promotion every single evening. The challenges with money became more serious (didn't have money ... I will always remember the dinner we had with Pato eating some small 6 pesos biscuits both of us) ... and were beginning to be a little bit desperate ... still having in our mind that everything is going to be ok :) And we continued without seeing any results, without money but with a lot of energy and motivation. The first miracle happened when Yoselin, an Alumni realized we were not doing that well and lend us some money ... unbelievable feeling me and Pato had at that point!!! God is taking care of us!!!

Raga arrived and from that point on we were leaving definitely better (he saved and challenged us in so many ways) ... we begun building our small family: Pato, Raga, Javi and me with our habits, stories and day to day life ... So nice August weekends learning how to dance, enjoying Pato's food, discussing about everything and everyone :):):) Still the things were not working as we wanted, planning projects and activities that didn't had the results we wanted ... but at least we were there for each other! Again huge challenge ... IC was coming and we had no money to go or pay the fee; our first meeting with the Alumni (meeting Kildare the person that was going to be our biggest supporter); first planning with the EB trusting that everything is going to be ok ... And again through an incredible effort of Kildare and the Alumni we got the money to go to IC!!! Another miracle :) Our first discussion with the team regarding who should go with me to IC ... and thought decision of leaving the girls home to manage the projects we have planned ...

IC ... enjoying an incredible conference, meeting all my friends: Mo, Mada, Dora, Vlad, Iulian, Lucas, my CEE MCPs and new incredible people: Marco, Hugo ... representing for the 1st time Dominican Republic and being proud of my country and Jose :):):) ... feeling mature and decided to change the way things were functioning back in Dominican Republic. Fulfilling my huge dream of seeing Rio and the Corcovado :D One of the most unique moments of my life!!! Visiting Venezuela :) And again the challenges appeared: Raga got sick and was not able to enjoy IC and Brazil; due to the hurricane season the plane we were suppose to flight with, was not available anymore so we had to pay for other tickets from Venezuela to Dominican Republic ...

We got back in September and the big issues started to appear .... hurricane season that didn't affected us so much; a lot of work and again the results were not there (me coming again from IC with the expectations that everything is going to be different); a strong wall was beginning to be built between us, the foreigners (Pato, Raga, Javi and me) and the Dominicans (Laura, the EB, the Alumni) ... and the situation being managed bad from both parts (us not understanding what are the possibilities in this country and attitude we should have) ... projects in which we invested a lot of time and passion (especially Laura and Patricia) that couldn't take place for various reasons ... strong arguments with the Alumni about what should we focus on in order to have results, things that were not what AIESEC meant for us ... If until then we still had the motivation and energy, October was the month when everything went bad ... our motivation (including mine), team's unity and work level decreased a lot ...

I think never in my life I felt so useless and challenged ... constantly having in my mind the question "What can I do? Why is not functioning?" ... having huge gastritis crises after the BOA and Alumni meeting ... being almost desperate because I was seeing that we are investing a lot of knowledge, energy and time and people around don't understand and appreciate us ... discussing with Raga about what makes us happy and Raga's decision of going back home in January ... I think all these moments and feelings were the peak of taking the final decision ... "live or die" ... go and leave everything behind or remain, change you attitude and enjoy this experience ... Thanks to great people around me (both in Dominican Republic and outside)I rebuilt myself both inside and outside and I decided to change myself and start everything from 0 :)

Unstoppable weeks started :D Having team days where we rebuilt our team, motivation and dreams, being 100% sincere with each other; organizing SER MAS and the 20th Anniversary where everybody including the Alumni were recognizing the effort and professionalism of the team; having Felipe's visit where we demonstrated unity and power to keep walking on the great road we started; planning our biggest legacies: pay the AI debt, regain the AIESEC Dominican Republic's membership, have a Dominican MCP elect, re-built AIESEC Santiago, organize a Job Fair event and Caribbean Leadership Conference :)

Holidays came
... having Mo here was the most incredible Christmas present I could ever receive in a country that does not celebrate Christmas as Romania does (what was to expect in a Latin country with 35 degrees outside :P) ... and having the time to reflect and think about my next steps ... Being in constant doubt between applying as a Director or VP Finance in AIESEC International's 0910 Team (a constant doubt I have since entering AIESEC, Finance or something else :P) ... so I decide that the best, most challenging and impact full experience I could have is to continue my 6 years of AIESEC with other 2 ones as AIVP F :D

So January came ... Jenn was elected as MCP ... Raga left Dominican Republic and left behind a deep hole in our hearts, we missed him so much :( ... we started re-building AIESEC Santiago, together with Felipe, a Colombian CEEDer we moved to Santiago for one month and started promotion and recruitment- both members and EPs (difficult times for me ... doing promotion from 08.00 am to 09.00 pm and in the night writing my AI Application); Laura, Pato and Javi were organizing recruitment and conferences ... Javi left and I couldn't say goodbye ...

Preparation for IPM
started with the same challenges ... money ... the bank changed their policies and we couldn't redraw the money needed in order to pay the debt ... Jenn didn't know if she could take her visa ... so again miracles happened!!! Jenn got the visa, the Alumni lent us with money and I was preparing to leave to the airport (destination Italy) when we still had to take a decision ... are we paying our salaries or take the money to IPM and pay AIESEC Dominican's Republic 3 years debt ... tough decision especially because once more the girls were staying home to work ... We decided to take the risk, sacrifice the next months and achieve a goal that we had ... During premeeting I found out Jenn received some "millas" from an Alumni and she could join me in Rome :D Jumping around of happiness around the hostel all night long :P

IPM
was a powerful moment ... I had my successor there to transmit her what means to be MCP in an international conference and to get all the "global network" knowledge she was needing ... we payed the debt and fulfilled the membership criteria ... I got to reconnect with "my people" and start a beautiful story ... and fought with all my heart and was elected AIVP Finance :):):) From that moment on I felt that everything is possible ... that purely "sky is the limit"!!!!

Last two months ... everything happened so fast ... ILC in Guatemala, Job Fair, MC elections, Activarse and CLC, last meetings with the BOA members and the Finance Commission, transition .... our goodbye party and meetings ... it was a constant run that we could not stop!!! Yes we had decisions to take, hard moments and challenges ... but we knew ourselves so well, we knew what to do and what not to do and we had the clear mindset that everything is possible!!! So it did!!!

We were at the limit so we evolved!!!
Challenges did made us stronger and changed our attitude towards life!!!
We have friends for a lifetime!!!
We did say goodbye with a smile on our face for what a great year we've spent together!!!
We are better going to great :) due to these 11 months and 11 days!!!
I will be forever thankful to Dominican Republic, AIESEC and you my dears for this!!!




Our first picture together :) So young and innocent :P




Our team building :):):)


video

The song that represents ... our year!!! Us being unstoppable!!!

"The End"

My unbelievable experience in Dominican Republic ended on the 30th of May ... so hard to realize that almost one year passed so fast and that beginning with this day my life will be so different and so far from the places, people, experiences I lived ...

Finishing CLC everything passed so quickly .... transition ... so proud to see Jenn together with Rene and Glory ("our babies"; the 2 persons that in only 2 months impressed us with their passion and involvement; we founded the kind of people we were looking for the entire year ... those kind of people that understand and feel AIESEC, that would give everything in their power to make this organization grow) planning and being motivated to take our work further! Happy to see their positive attitude, maturity and understanding ... being 100% certain that they are going to make incredible things in Dominican Republic and that together with Andreea, Ricardo and hopefully an ER person they are going to demonstrate to themselves and to the world that Dominican Republic is a country with an incredible potential!!!

1 day
before my departure and I couldn't even picture in my head the fact that I was going to leave ... I couldn't do my luggage till the day I left ... I was constantly thinking about all that happen, about the fact that I am leaving behind all my nights and days ... my people ... my places .... my house and bed ... my best friends now ... my day to day life ... my tears and laughs ... my dreams and work ...

In the last night we had a great dinner and we invited people close to our heart to say goodbye; Kildare again made us a huge surprise my bringing us a letter from him and the Alumni close to us thanking us for this incredible year ... preparing us a very special moment ... this was the moment I couldn't stop crying until I got to Madrid ... couldn't sleep so I spent my entire night remembering ....

It was incredible the level that my departure was affecting me ... and I couldn't understand at first, why??? (when I left Romania I was not like that) ... now, I was crying for one day and one night and I simply couldn't stop ... Talking to people, I realize this experience was the most intense in my entire life, I fought a lot with myself and others for my dreams and the things we wanted to leave behind; I gave my entire soul, energy and time; I found incredible people ... and now I had to leave everything behind and start again from 0 ...

So I gathered my things ... bought presents for my family and friends, said goodbye to everybody and went to the airport in a "carrito" :) Jenn, Rene, Laura, Glori, Cristal, Pato and me in a small car :P remembering the good old time!!! :D The hard part started ... how do you say goodbye??? How do you pass over the fact that you are not going back home in Santo Domingo(how you did so many times)? How do you tell people in 1 minute everything they've meant for you, what you've learned from them and what you wish them??? So I did and leaving a big piece of my heart there I entered the check in door and didn't look back ...

At the point I was in Madrid's airport my heart was in peace :)

In peace because I knew we gave everything we had ... happy and proud of our year: of our experience and what we've left behind (results, people, mindsets); of us: Pato, Lauris, Raga, Javi, Jenn and our future; of the future of AIESEC in Dominican Republic with an MC team build by 3 Dominicans, 1 Romanian and 1 Colombian (the 3 cultures we are always going to keep in our heart); of my 11 months and 11 days experience!!!!



At the airport :) Thank you so much guys!!! <3 Love you forever!!!
 
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