Thursday, March 01, 2007


Cairo, Egypt was the host to the 2007 AIESEC International President's Meeting (IPM) and for the second year Allied Ronin provided leadership training and the Samurai Game® for the organization's newly elected country presidents. Last year the IPM was in the Netherlands. This means that hundreds of young leaders from approximately 90 countries have now had the opportunity to participate one of the most provocative simulations in the world. They have directly linked their performance in the simulation to: (1) how they effectively interact with others, (2) how they will lead their country organizations, (3) how they influence people in general, (4) what their core values really are, and (5) what actions they can take to expand their positive habits and diminish their negative ones.

As mentioned in the Feb 25th blog entry I initially envisioned the trip to Egypt as an opportunity to serve not only AIESEC the organization and its members, but the future of 90 some countries. These your adults are very smart - top college juniors, seniors and master's degree candidates. Most speak four languages and are tops in their studies. Each has weathered many challenges to rise to the positions they currently hold. They are sought after by NGO's, companies and government organizations worldwide. And when their time is done with AIESEC some will go on to become leaders of organizations with international ties; and it is possible that a few could become high government officials and possibly heads of countries, e.g., current President of Portugal.

On February 22nd, while opening my portion of the IPM, I was asked by one of the delegates "Why are you here?" And, as noted above, I stated, "To serve." That answer was and remains valid. But at the end of the day upon being approached by a young Kenyan, Kevin Chege - newly elected president of AIESEC Rwanda, my reason for attending took on a simple ands profound added dimension. In short I was there to benefit from his insight and thoughtfulness, and to receive from him his small booklet, "The Little Blue Book Kenya." What I read could be important lessons for us all.

Kevin lays out a solid awareness of Kenya's, indeed Africa's, problems. And while different from problems faced by US and other countries I’ve recently visited, what he offers is a lesson in personal responsibility when it comes to creating solutions in the here and now. I asked him for permission to duplicate portions of his booklet, and he said "OK." So I have. Please read on, and as you do ... try inserting the name of your organization or your family or your community or your business or your country in the places he has used "AIESEC" or "Kenya.” Substitute the name of something that is deeply meaningful to you and see how this affects your perspective. To clarify, Kevin Chege is Kenyan and when he wrote the following he was an AIESEC Local Committee President in that country. But he has captured the attention of others internationally in his organization and has gone on to create solutions elsewhere -- in this case Rwanda where he is the AIESEC newly elected Country President. Rwanda, like Kenya, is place with a history of dramatic problems. I think he'll have his challenges there, but with support he will do well.

If you want to contact Kevin Chege directly then I hope you will. If so, please send email to him at If you want to support his efforts through financial contribution, please do so. He can it as he goes about making the difference that he will - for constructive leadership, for sustainable living and for a more peaceful world.


"Part Three - My Solutions (by Kevin Chege)

Looking at the problems facing Kenya today, I ask myself, 'Can I, as a young student who is a member of AIESEC, who has networks in 89 countries with fellow students, who regularly meets the most influential people in Kenyan business, make a real positive impact on Kenya?' These might seem to be very mundane questions. In fact, most AIESECers will immediately give 'Yes' as an answer to the three questions. But then I ask, 'Why do you need to do anything for Kenya?' and 'Are you already doing something positive consciously?' and 'How can you do it then?'

These second batch of questions are the difficult questions to answer. Some of us don't even ask ourselves these questions. The sad reality is, most people will probably go through AIESEC without even knowing how to personally gain from it. To such a person, the concept of Kenya gaining from AIESEC just does not begin to arise. So let's start at the questions, and try to answer them together.

1. Why do I need to do anything about Kenya?

This is a very simple question for those who call themselves patriots. However, the vast majority of people in this world simply don't care about anything except themselves. They exist in a world of 'ME.' Let's try and open their eyes a bit.

Anywhere you go in this world, one of the first questions anybody will ask you is, 'Where are you from?' - in which case you give the name of your country. To the person asking, you automatically get a tag based on their perception of your country. If you say Japan, people begin to think of robots, and Sony. If you say America, people think of George Bush, the war in Iraq and so on. If you say Kenya, people think of famine, and corruption. And based on their perception of your country, people will welcome you, or shun your company. Therefore the country tag is a very important tag in this world. It's why South Africans will get a Kenyan visa at the airport, but Nigerians have to apply at the embassy.

From that solitary example, we can see that your country of origin matters a lot. There are lots of other examples that I could give to illustrate the point but I believe that one example will suffice. Whey then should you try to make a positive impact on your country? My answer to that question is, because you must do it even if it is for selfish reasons ... not to mention the fact that you are the only one who can. Nobody will ever come from another place to save your home. They might help. But it is totally up to you to save yourself and your kind.

2. Am I already doing something positive for Kenya consciously?

As we saw before, most people will go through AIESEC without ever realizing how much impact the organization can have on their lives. Others will go through AIESEC with a game plan for themselves, and they will try to learn as much as they can, to experience all they can, and to gain all that they can from this platform. Then a very few number, perhaps less than 10% will not only gain personally from AIESEC<>The Kendo student practices furiously thousands of cuts morning and night, learning fierce techniques of horrible war, until eventually sword becomes "so sword"; intention becomes "no intention", a spontaneous knowledge of every situation. The first elementary teaching becomes the highest knowledge, and the master still continues to practice this simple training, his everyday prayer." - The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, Japanese Swordsman (1584-1645)

In answering this question, I speak of AIESEC as organization. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what to do as an individual as well. What it doesn't answer for your, it does for me ... and vice versa. That is the beauty of never knowing what God really looks life: it allows each of us to be unique.

Therefore, get the few basic ideas suggested here, have a desire to make a positive impact, then free your mind and try your own ideas everyday. The rest will come naturally."


Unknown said...

Amazin! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and impressions about IPM! I really do hope that this has been a learning opportunity as well.
See you soon somewhere around!

Sis said...

I was really touched by your impressions, feelings and commitement. Thank you for all your support and belief in us, AIESECers and our ogranization!

Friendly regards,
AIESEC Switzerland/Bulgaria