Student perspective: Suffolk student finds purpose through volunteering


AIESEC volunteers with the kids of Khlong Toey in Thailand

An opportunity to study abroad is an exciting option for anyone in college. However, volunteering abroad is an option that is often overlooked. When I started college at Suffolk, I had an innate desire to study abroad. I wanted to gain some kind of global experience that I felt empty without.  AIESEC gave me the opportunity to do so.

AIESEC, also known as the Association Internationale des Étudiants En Sciences Économiques et Commerciales, or International Association of Students in Economics and Management, is a non-profit, youth-run organization that strives for peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential. It takes its shape in clubs on college campuses and is available to all students.

The group encourages students to step out of their comfort zone and do work that is beyond themselves.

One of my friends knew I was interested in going abroad and referred me to AIESEC. I applied for volunteering opportunities through AIESEC Boston’s many partnered countries like Thailand, Peru, Mexico and Indonesia. I met with representatives from Suffolk’s AIESEC chapter and was astounded that my process of applying to opportunities was facilitated by fellow peers like me. They helped me find the best opportunity that fit my skills and passion.

I finally decided to apply to an opportunity that involved teaching English to young kids in one of the most impoverished communities in Bangkok, Thailand.

My journey abroad began once my plane landed in Bangkok. I was immediately welcomed by AIESEC’s enthusiastic ground network. I volunteered at AIESEC’s entity at Thammasat University, which worked quickly to make sure my volunteer experience went as smoothly and comfortably as possible. They had an on-call team for any needs of mine such as translators and travel guides.

I worked on a team five days a week with a non-profit centered around educating children in the community. Through my six weeks working with the children, I felt that I had never had a more worthy purpose.   

Ken Nikornpan volunteers in Thailand

My group also took a week-long trip to a remote village on the east of Thailand to observe an indigenous community and their way of life. Towards the end of the exchange, each volunteer represented the country they came from and shared their culture. We wanted the children to know what life is like outside of their barred community.

It felt like I was working to complete a mission through the service I did. I touched the lives of the kids around me and their genuine appreciation touched me as well. It gave the children an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Once I returned home, I wanted to further my experience within the organization. I became the vice president of AIESEC Boston. Taking on this role allowed me to give the same experience I had to others seeking a fulfilling journey overseas.

My time volunteering abroad helped me gain skills that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to develop at home. I learned how to manage myself, manage a team and become a leader.

Hundreds of opportunities are offered through AIESEC that urge youth to step out of their comfort zone and be more than themselves. My exchange was not just a study term abroad and was more than just a trip. Big or small, it was an experience like no other which gave me the ability to make a more powerful impact on the world.