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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 103 | January 25, 2009|


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Youth Towards Sustainability

Afia Rashid, Saeba Ruslana
and Prometheus Siddiqui

AIESEC (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales), the world's largest student organization, is the international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society providing over 7,500 leadership positions and delivering over 350 conferences to our membership of 32,000 students, running an exchange program that enables over 4,500 students and recent graduates every year the opportunity to live and work in another country.

AIESEC's activities in Bangladesh since 1997 have already achieved enormous success in leadership development. AIESEC Bangladesh obtained its full membership status in the International Congress 1999 held in Durban, South Africa. It comprises of four local committees, AIESEC in North South University, AIESEC in BRAC University, AIESEC in American International University of Bangladesh and AIESEC in Independent University Bangladesh. Since its establishment, AIESEC Bangladesh has organized many national and international conferences to train and develop its members.

The National Leadership Development Seminar (NLDS) is one of the biggest and most important conferences in the history of AIESEC Bangladesh. The seminar was aimed at developing leadership skills and competencies of all AIESEC Members in Bangladesh. This time it was attended by 160 delegates from four different universities and various academic backgrounds, and also included foreign delegates from Ghana, Netherlands, Mainland China, UK and Hong Kong. Foreign facilitators from UK and Hong Kong helped in developing competencies of delegates. The theme of the seminar was youth towards sustainability.

The conference was held from January 7, 2009 to January 10, 2009. The venue of the conference was Zastat Holiday Resort, Sylhet, Bangladesh. The agenda of the conference consisted of various kinds of sessions including AIESEC training, leadership development and management, Sustainability and CSR.

The 6 hour journey from Dhaka to Sylhet was paid off by a rocking opening plenary where the facilitators and the executive body of AIESEC Bangladesh were introduced to the delegates. The chair for the conference was Rubayat Khan, at present an AIESEC alumni working at NEW AGE. For the first time NLDS ran in two separate tracks: Leadership Role (LR) Track and Taking Responsibility (TR) Track.

The TR track (designed for junior members) was the one that created a larger stir, firstly because it had a bigger delegation, and secondly because it was the first NLDS for TR track delegates. The TR track was administered by Saira Enam (LCVP Admin. AIUB), and the sessions were facilitated by Salman Omar (LCP NSU), Pratyush Kumar Sureka (UK), Fion Fung (Hong Kong), Fahim Hossain (MCP) Mahnaz Nazneen(LCP BRAC U), Sarah Kamal (LCP IUB) Shama Islam (LCVP Communication AIUB) and Shariful Islam Bhuiyan (LCVP ICX AIUB).

The objective of the TR track were to introduce the delegates to issue based experience (IBXP) and project management, developing leadership qualities, developing teamwork skills, enhancing functional knowledge, understanding competency management and an overview of AIESEC Bangladesh 2010 visions.

The conference kicked off with a session, which was rather interactive, and delegates shared their experiences and perceptions of AIESEC as an organization followed by personal visions and values, conducted by Sarah.

The day wrapped up with 'Opportunities Ahead', conducted by Fion. This session was mainly about the total structure of AIESEC International, and the positions that are available for members at various stages of their AIESEC Experience both locally and internationally.

The highlight of day 2 was project management and its aspects. The first session, IBXP taken by Shariful, was mainly about socio-economic, environmental and various other issues affecting the society as a whole.

Next up were the functional block sessions. The block was designed for members to gain knowledge on specific departments like external relations, information systems, exchange specifics and more conducted by a number of facilitators simultaneously, where the delegates were divided into small groups.

The next session was “Finding the Right Issue”, conducted by Salman. The objective was to discuss and choose an issue and consider the factors of sustainability and feasibility pertaining to those issues.

The next session in cue was “Functional Synergy and Project Planning". In this session it was explained how all the different departments interlink with each other, and combine together to form a winning team.

Later the delegates were divided in groups and assigned an issue to solve, keeping the necessary solution routes open. The delegates took part with immense enthusiasm, and in the process learned a lot about practical project running and its various aspects.

After the simulation, a Project fair was held. The different groups were required to present their projects to the audience for the voting of the best project.

The final day was all about Leadership and the various sides to it. The day started with a session called “Emotional Intelligence”. This session involved the basics of organizational behavior and how one needs to channel and control their emotions while working in an organization.

This session was followed by “How to Build a Team” by Fion which focused on teamwork strategies and techniques. Fahim added to this through his “How to Lead a Team” session.

Up next was a fictitious Team Leader election of AIESEC Bangladesh, where two delegates from each team ran for the election for the positions for team leaders, delivered a speech, emphasizing on the competencies they possess that makes them suitable for the position. After that, the groups collectively casted their votes for the candidates.

The next sessions were conducted by externals which was the highlight of the day. The first of the two was taken by Shamnoon Muheb Chowdhury, an AIESEC alumnus currently working for Banglalink. His session involved leadership development and implementation, and a bit of experience sharing of his times as an AIESECer. The second session was conducted by Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, Director, Sales and Marketing, of Acme Laboratories. His double sessions were on “Partnering in Association” and “Communication Skills”. He talked about various corporate sectors, and types of partnerships they make and how they are different from one another. In addition, he spoke about business communication and the do's and don'ts of corporate behavior. This was the concluding session for the TR track.

For LR track, NLDS was not a new experience but one they were looking forward to. The delegates in this track consisted of senior members, Executive Body Members of the four local Chapters and Team Leaders of different departments. Having attended many national and international conferences, it was a challenge for the facilitators and organizers to meet the expectations of this group. The facilitators of this track included the Track Manager Eshad Ekram, Kazi Fahim Hossain (MCP), Fakir Mainuddin Hossain (MCVP, Talent Management and Conference Manger), Arman Mahbub (MCVP, External Relations), Farihan F Rahman (MCVP, Incoming Exchange), Nafees Rahman (MCVP, Outgoing Exchange), Towhid Ahmed (MCVP, Expansion), M Jahid Hassan (MCVP, Finance) and Amzad Hussain (alumni).

The areas covered by the sessions included, understanding leadership, understanding exchange management and reality alignment, functional education, IBXP management, and AIESEC Bangladesh 2015 vision.

Arman commenced with an interactive session named 'Realizing Reality'. In this session, LCs could clearly see where they stood in terms of exchange (both incoming and outgoing). It was a wakeup call for all LCs through which they were able to reassess their targets.

This session was followed by 'Exchange in Big Picture' jointly conducted by Farihan and Nafees. The senior members of AIESEC Bangladesh were once again reminded of the true essence of exchange; to provide individuals from the 110 countries of AIESEC 'a life changing experience'.

After a scrumptious dinner, members attended two back-to-back sessions conducted by Mainuddin. The main aims of the group was to form a 'circle of trust' where all members had to share their AIESEC experience thus far, and were advised by their group members on how they could have done things better. Issue based experience is a fairly new concept to AIESEC Bangladesh. Members were required to understand different functional areas of this concept, and how a project can be planned around various issues such as HIV AIDS, global warming, poverty, women empowerment etc.

The next session was called 'Leadership Theories'. The essence of the session helped delegates understand the differences in leadership skills and managing skills. Next Jahid came forward with his session 'Personal visions and values'. The facilitator shared his own experiences and tried to portray to delegates how it was possible to align AIESEC goals to that of your own. Towhid was back with another brief session on 'How to Build a Team'. At first the basics were briefly explained to the members, and then some knowledge sharing was done through active participation from the delegates. Next the President of AIESEC Bangladesh Fahim conducted his session on 'Emotional Intelligence' and its importance in ones personal and professional life.

After the Lunch break, Arman undertook a session on 'Building Ideals, discussing different aspects, that would help shape an Local Committee or Chapter to be a world class one. This was followed by an open-air presentation by each group.

After this each delegate moved in to different functional blocks according to their preference and specialization. Six blocks including, External Relation (ER), Incoming Exchange (ICX), Talent Management (TM), Outgoing Exchange (OGX), Communication and Finance were divided into two slots. Learning for members in these sessions was very technical and in depth, hence most of the sessions were conducted outdoors.

After the tea break, delegates returned to the Plenary Hall a little tired and subdued. However, facilitators Farihan and Nafees kept their spirits applied, as each LC once again faced with discussing their problems, and this time had to come up with effective solutions.

The next day could well be termed as the most hectic day, as LR track members began a five hour-long session from 9 am. This session included a simulation that required members to be divided into five groups. Each group was representing a country, the countries in the pool were, India, Malaysia, China, Saudi Arabia and Canada. Groups were assigned to build a project on one of the following, HIV AIDS, malnutrition, women empowerment, rural education or global warming. Groups had to interact with one another, and set up international partnership for student exchange and knowledge sharing through formal discussion and contract. Finally, for local support they had to go to marketing calls to booths set up by facilitators, each booth representing an NGO, or educational institution, corporate house etc. The groups were assigned an exchange target, which they had to meet. Most of the groups achieved their targets, thus the session was deemed to be a success. After lunch, Jahid carried out a functional session on international partnerships and Amzad finished off the sessions for the conference with quips on leadership.

The conference was not all sessions and learning. Delegates got their fair share of fun too. There were DJ parties, Rock concerts (featuring AIESEC's own Zaved, Mainuddin, Eid, Rehnuma, Fahmin and a few others) and of course a lavish gala dinner. The gala dinner was held on January 9, 2009 attended by externals from ACME, delegates and AIESEC Alumnus. Mr.Mohammad Rafiqul Islam, Director Marketing & Sales, and Mr. Asif Ainul Hoque, Head of HR of ACME Laboratories spoke on the occasion and expressed their interest in a long-term partnership with AIESEC and congratulated everybody on the success of the conference.

The closing plenary marked the end of the glorious NLDS 09.The chair announced Nazia Sultana from IUB and Prometheus Siddiqui from NSU to be the best delegates from the TR and LR Track respectively.

The team of organizers for the program was Tonmoy Dutta, Aveen Ali, Shabbir Mamun, Iffat Karim, Ifthekar Ali, Saeba Ruslana, Afia Rashid, Faiza Alam, Fahd Kabir, Fahad Chowdhury, Mafiul Robin,Sana Wahed, Intezar Mehboob, Ariful Hoque Subin, Sakin Chowdhury, Syed Rayhan Tarique and Mehnuma Hasnath.

The Conference ended on January 9, 2009, but delegates got the opportunity to witness the National Congress of AIESEC Bangladesh the next day. The Chair conducted the event, where Arman Mahbub was elected to be President for the term 2009-2010.

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