Contributed by Spencer Stanley from AIESEC Ottawa
Name: Spencer Stanley
University/Local Chapter: University of Ottawa, AIESEC Ottawa
Location of Exchange: Manaus, Brazil
Hosting Chapter: AIESEC Manaus
Duration: 7 weeks
Type of Exchange: Global Citizen, Social Entrepreneurship
Where did you work? SEARA Amazônia
Describe your internship. Where did you go, who did you work for, and what did you do?
Two other interns and I worked with an NGO and the local university to develop and rebrand the marketing of a locally developed nutritional supplement for young children. Over the course of 7 weeks, we hosted media events with local TV crews/journals, redeveloped the logo and launched a new partnership with a local chain of supermarkets called CR. Look up SEARA Amazônia to see some proof-in-progress
What is the greatest challenge you had to overcome while abroad and how did you do so?
Working and negotiating with very unreliable people was definitely a theme throughout my experience, and it became a running inside joke with the another intern Ivana, who was from the Czech Republic. It also forced me to adapt to doing business in a different culture. Overall, the end my experience taught me more about people than some of my psychology classes.
What was the most difficult about adjusting to life in Brazil?
Probably the general environment. In some rural areas we went to the humidity is a near-static 90/100% and 30-35 degrees Celsius. If you want to go into the forest here, it’s HIGHLY recommended you wear long-sleeved clothes/pants with shoes for the bugs and plants. Also hot and cold faucets don’t really exist, but after a while I learned to love cold showers.
What is the craziest thing you did while in Brazil?
Oh wow, well there were a lot of things. One of them would definitely be going into the ‘forest’ and sleeping in a hammock there. Falling asleep to the sounds of monkeys in the distance after partying in the amazon is definitely a unique experience.
Tell me about a person you met while abroad who had a significant impact on you.
It’s hard to pick just one person. My host family were some of the most hospitable and friendly people I’ve ever met and taught me to really appreciate the value of one’s family. My friends Neto and Daniel showed me the real Brazil, gave me perspective on life and were people whom I had some of the best days/nights of the summer with. Ivana, who was 22, taught me a lot about life and the Czech Republic. We were always motivating each other to work harder – also we partied really hard together. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
After your trip, what advice would you give to someone who will embark on an exchange with AIESEC in the future?
Always be open to new experiences and looking for opportunities – you can always sleep when you come back to Canada. Also ask your new friends what kind of street food is OK to eat BEFORE you try it.
To experience exchange like Spencer did, sign up at www.aiesec.ca/register to get started!