There seemed to be something special about Mehran when we first met. That curly haired guy always sported a gentle smile. Mehran, who had an air of innocence around him was a fellow volunteer for the Special Care (SC) project. Hailing all the way from Iran, he was very curious about foreign cultures and easily found common ground with strangers. Anyone who knew him would say that he was the friend that they always wanted. I couldn’t agree more.
On a fated night, Mehran asked me out for a stroll as he had trouble sleeping. Feeling rather drowsy, I was so close to turning down his offer. However, as I never went out with a guy before. I felt that this was an opportunity that I cannot miss. I was slightly nervous as he wanted to visit our project site at this dark hour. Luckily, my goosebumps faded away when he started asking me about my country and describing his own. It didn’t take long for us to get into a cordial mood. We had a long exchange that night, ending with Mehran asking me out again. I was excited. It was a feeling of anticipation I never felt before.
From that night onwards, I started to interact more with my fellow international and local volunteers. Together, we spent time with disabled kids, attended conferences, lived in temples, taught classes and experienced countless instances of cultural exchanges. Those are memories which I still treasure today!
Frankly, I was a very isolated person who didn’t care about having friends. I preferred books, toys or any sort of activity that didn’t require me to interact with others. I was accustomed to this lifestyle and just couldn’t be bothered by it. Although being alone did provided me all the comfort and enjoyment that I ever needed, I started to experience a subtle feeling of longing whenever I saw groups of people enjoying themselves.
Eventually, I chanced upon an AIESEC booth that was promoting the Global Volunteer exchange programme. At that time, I didn’t know what to expect from it. Thinking that I’d be able to at least learn something from the experience, I decided to participate. I certainly would be full of regrets today if I hadn’t made up my mind at the AIESEC booth back then, as I never would have discovered the pleasure of having company.
Original story from : Tan Shen Tze (Student l University of Nottingham, Malaysia)
In AIESEC, we believe in developing leadership through practical experiences in challenging environment, and we do this by delivering cross-cultural exchanges. We have created thousands of stories ever since we started in Malaysia 50 years ago. Here’s just one of them.