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Building on a Global Student Exchange

In her first year at Yale, Yijiao He ’18 (China, UWC Atlantic) took on too much and almost burned out. By year’s end, she writes, “I had stopped half of my extracurricular activities, and started to question what I was doing at Yale.”

But after studying Spanish in Ecuador that summer, Yijiao came back energized. How, she wondered, could she bring the heart of her UWC experience — “working together and learning about so many things, believing in something bigger than ourselves” — to her time at the university?

Yijiao found her answer in AIESEC. A global nonprofit run by students and recent graduates, AIESEC (the acronym stands for an original French name that is no longer used) has chapters in 126 nations that work to send students abroad on volunteering and internship opportunities. Through Yale’s chapter, Yijiao created a new AIESEC division, the Incoming Global Volunteers Program.

Last year the Yale chapter became AIESEC’s first to bring in two international volunteers, one from the Netherlands and the other from Mexico, who both worked with the nonprofit Women of Power Network in New Haven. For that, the committee won an AIESEC award, Best Local Committee in Incoming Exchange.

“Now there are 10 other AIESEC chapters that have started to run this program after our model,” Yijiao reports. As a junior this year, Yijiao has been an officer of the AIESEC chapter. What’s rewarding about the work, she says, “is that I get to interact with a lot of other students who genuinely want to learn about the world, to go abroad or come here to volunteer in the local community. You also get to talk to nonprofits and to students in other countries about how they do their exchange process. It’s a very inspiring experience.”