Thursday, December 25, 2008

What did you learn?

When you are subscribed to various newsletters of leadership coaches like Robin Sharma, Brian Johnson (PhilosoperNotes, ThinkArete) etc., sometimes they are coming on the right moment. And here is the one i received some days ago... Connected to my previous posts...

Hi Aigerim,

We grow from the experiences that stretch us. Actually, we grow when we learn from the experiences that stretch us. Seems so obvious, yet so few take the time to reflect on our experiences.

When you are stunningly disciplined about your learning you create daily 1% wins. The small incremental improvements that lead to staggering results over time.) Being disciplined about your learning means that you schedule the time to think about your craft. It could be a post-project debrief that you run with your team. It could be quick review of the past month at a staff meeting. Or, it could be several pages in your journal. Leaders do this until they get to extraordinary. And, then they keep doing it.

Here are a couple of tips for getting the most out of your experiences:

3 Questions

For every experience ask yourself the following questions:

1. What happened? (Describe the events and the people involved.)
2. So, what? (What does this experience mean? Describe why this is important? Did this experience identify a strength or weakness? Did it force you to reexamine your assumptions?)
3. Now, what? (What will you do differently next time? What is the essence of this lesson?)

Avoid Blame

Sometimes it's easy to point fingers at others. Or become overly hard on your own performance. Try to get beyond blaming and understand why people behaved the way they did. Was the goal clear and achievable? Did people have the tools they needed? Was communication clear? When you focus on blaming people you miss the opportunity to change the systems, rules and procedures that can make you better next time.

Think Long Term

Sometimes the results of our decisions take a long time to manifest.
Look back on decisions you made several years ago and try to trace the consequences. (For future decisions use a journal to record your goals and assumptions around important decisions.)

Share Your Lessons

Once you have learned from your experience, sharing it is the best way to keep it fresh. Blog about it. Tell your colleagues what you learned. Discuss it with a mentor. When you have conversations around your learning you deepen the learning.

In Leadership,
Robin Sharma

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Personal recovery

That’s quite interesting to observe yourself after some period of time, how you as a person from time to time struggling with your own identity inside – with “I”’s inside of you. When one “I” is telling one thing, another “I” wants to think and act opposite and after sometime you see, who actually won. The better – positive choice you take for yourself, the stronger you become after that personally, the stronger you believe in what you are currently doing, the more connection you see with the future, the less people around you suffer from that… The easier to live then.

I’m feeling much better now, so people who were worried about me and my mood changes, can leave that feelings now… Almost for 2 months I could say that I was in down mood, I think that was the moment in my current role and life generally to turn everything aside. That were moments of a stress I have experienced – I even don’t remember when I have had it last time, maybe 2 years ago. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to see and talk to anybody, just spending time on my own, compiling “to do” list, observing, not caring much… but missing my close friends and parents of course. Being shut down inside of me… In these situations I think only some personal talks with your close friends can somehow save you, but the decision to overcome it is anyways on you only… We’re reading a lot of books about personal development and meeting challenges, and seem quite smart in overcoming the mistakes others did, but still when it comes to you – only you have to experience it and take the right decisions for yourself. There is a simple sentence, which took me around one and a half months to come to – ‘everything you do is worth it” and “take things easier”… Even if you do all your best and want to change something for a positive tendency, it’s up to people to grab this or not… anyways you did all your best.

I’m still the same person – smiling, positive, striving for excellence and caring… Just sometimes the environment you are surrounded from time to time may change you and your attitude, but in the end it’s up to you – whether you want to be changed, loose yourself or not… It’s maybe hard to understand, but that’s what I think… Just take the best out of people you are with now, learn, value your own characteristics, adapt…

The moment of being outside of your current realities – business trip, conference, visit to another country may help a lot in evaluating everything happening with you and it helped me. I remember, when I came back after Netherlands I still was feeling down and didn’t want to come back to the same routine. I had one sleepless night, when I was thinking-thinking and thinking about myself and what attitude I’m taking to the current situations, evaluating what to be next time… This moment was very helpful as a turning point in being myself again, enjoying my current role, place, people around me and taking everything easily. Morning came and it was already a better day…

On 2d December I became 23. That’s the first time I have been celebrating my Birthday in another country, in another style, with other people who are becoming my close friends step by step. Who am I currently being 23? A year wiser? How personally strong am I now? Am I satisfied with my current life?

I really love my team… I have never been posting about them, but I really appreciate that I’m part of it. For the second time in my life, I’m really thankful that I got an opportunity to work with certain people together for a year (first one was with my Executive Board of AIESEC Almaty). Our MC team is I think a team of high-flyers – people who always striving to be higher, professional in their area, trustful and you never can lower the standards in your work, because that’s not in our principles. I just love it…

Soon I’m going home for holidays and even if I’m really looking forward for it, but still afraid to “re-arrange” myself to other realities, culture… I think it will be quite interesting experience.

Wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

Musi-musi ja kalli-kalli

Yours Smiley Aika

Monday, December 01, 2008


Friday, November 28, 2008

“Gift to Stalin”

I have educated in myself a habit of reading every Sunday the weekly online economical newspapers on what’s happening in my country – same headlines as in any newspaper, magazine in the world with the financial crisis, how it affects the country, how the government is managing current situation not be crashed down in financial crisis much, investing, buying shares of banks etc.

But recently, I have been checking the cultural part of the headlines, and got to know, that one of our Kazakh film director has been produced a new movie “Gift to Stalin, which was officially launched at International Film Fesival in Seoul, in October . Well, not every even year our country is producing the movies for public, the good ones. For now, I haven’t had an opportunity to watch it, but read a lot about the content and feedback of people.

“Set in Kazakhstan in 1949, during a time when minorities were forced to move to central Asia by the former Soviet government. A Jewish kid named Sashka is on a train with his grandfather, being deported with others. His grandfather dies on the train and he has to get off with the body at a small village. He meets an old man, Kasym, and stays with him. But the tragedy is upon the village. Every villager is killed and only Sashka survived.

"The Gift to Stalin" is a story about a little boy Sasha who was sent to Kazakhstan. He was saved from death by an old Kazakh man, Kasym, who took the boy to his home. The film is set in 1949. The title, The Gift to Stalin has two significances. In 1949, Soviet government carried out a nuclear test for anniversary of Stalin’s 70th birthday. Many innocent people fell the victims to the nuclear test. The other significance is about Sashka’s dream - he hoped that if he gives Stalin a gift, he will be able to see his parents again not knowing that they were killed.

I would say that I’m really proud, that the movie is not only showing the realities of my country during Stalin times – nuclear testing which is still affecting the country's ecological situation and people’s health, but also highlights one of the key cultural aspects Kazakh people had for centuries – hospitality, open-mindness… That’s why I’m still admire that having currently more than 120 nationalities in one country – Kazakh, Russians, Jewish, Tatar, Turkish, Koreans, Ukrainian, Germans etc., we live in piece all together and haven’t experienced any cultural misunderstandings or whatever. The key word here is tolerance... 

Looking forward to watch this movie back home…

Kazakhstanis, be proud of yourself and keep the same way… We were born in a unique environment, really.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How to Fight Culture Shock


Culture shock also has many stages. Each one of these stages can be ongoing or only appear at certain times. We have listed the 5 stages of culture shock below.


Stage 1 (honeymoon stage)


In this first stage, you may feel exhilarated and pleased by all of the new things encountered. The new things you encounter in the country are new and exciting at first, everything is wonderful. Even the most simple things are new and interesting, taking the bus or going to a restaurant. This exhilarating feeling will probably at some point change to the next phase.


Stage 2 (disillusionment stage)


Culture shock will happen gradually, you may encounter some difficulties or simple differences in your daily routine. For example, communication problems such as not being understood, food, attitude, and customs, these things may start to irritate you. At this stage, you may have feelings of discontent, impatience, anger, sadness, and a feeling of incompetence. This happens when you are trying to adapt to a new culture that is very different from your own. The change between your old methods and those of the country is a difficult process and takes time to complete. During the transition period, you may have some strong feelings of dissatisfaction and start to comparetThe country to your new country in an unfavorable way.


Stage 3 (understanding stage)


The third stage is characterized by gaining some understanding of the country's culture, country, and its' people. You will get a new feeling of pleasure and sense of humor may be experienced. You should start to feel more of a certain psychological balance. During this stage you won't feel as lost and should begin to have a feeling of direction. At this point you are more familiar with the environment and have more of a feeling of wanting to belong. 


Stage 4 (integration stage)


The fourth stage of culture shock is the integration stage and is usually experienced if you are staying for a very long period of time in the country. You will probably realize that the country has good and bad things to offer you. This integration is period is characterized by a strong feeling of belonging. You will start to define yourself and begin establishing goals. 


Stage 5 (re-entry stage)


The final stage of culture shock occurs when you return to your home country. This stage of culture shock generally only effects people who have been in the country for a very long period of time. You may find that things are no longer the same in your home country. For example, some of your newly acquired customs are not in use in your own country.

These stages are present at different times and you will have your own way of reacting in each stage. As a result some you may find some stages can be longer and more difficult than others. There are many factors contribute to the duration and effects of culture shock. For example, your state of mental health, personality, previous experiences, socio-economic conditions, familiarity with the language, family, and level of education.


How to Fight Culture Shock Guide


Most people have the ability to positively deal with the difficulties of a new environment and overcome culture shock. So if you are thinking about going home or only spending time with people from your own culture, don't. You have to realize that you are not alone. Many other foreigners have experienced what you feel, talk to your friends or other people in your working place, they can help you feel better. We have also listed a few ways to fight the stress produced by culture shock below:

  • Develop a hobby
  • Don't forget the good things you already have!
  • Remember, there are always resources that you can use
  • Be patient, living in a different country is a process of adaptation to new situations. It is going to take time
  • Learn to be constructive. If you encounter an unfavorable environment, don't put yourself in that position again. Be easy on yourself.
  • Don't try too hard.
  • Learn to include a regular form of physical activity in your routine. This will help combat the sadness and loneliness in a constructive manner. Exercise, swim, take an aerobics class, etc. Get physical exercise and plenty of sleep
  • Relaxation and meditation are proven to be very positive for people who are passing through periods of stress
  • Maintain contact with other foreigners. This will give you a feeling of belonging and you will reduce your feelings of loneliness and alienation
  • Maintain contact with the new culture. Learn the foreign language. This will help you feel less stressed about the language and useful at the same time.
  • Allow yourself to feel sad about the things that you have left behind: your family, your friends etc.
  • Try to accept country and focus your power on getting through the transition.
  • Pay attention to relationships with your friends and colleagues at work. They will serve as support for you in difficult times.
  • Establish simple goals and evaluate your progress. Make a few small decisions and carry them out. This will give you confidence
  • Find ways to live with the things that don't satisfy you 100%.
  • Maintain confidence in yourself. Follow your ambitions and continue your plans for the future.
  • If you feel stressed or sad, look for help. Tell friends that you are sad. Their support will help.
  • Find people to talk to about your feelings and their feelings
  • Make your living arrangements pleasant, and surround yourself with familiar photos, your favorite music, or a memento from home
  • Don’t be afraid to cry, sing, pray or laugh to express your feelings
  • Be happy and excited for this opportunity, and don’t expect things to be the same as your home country.

Foreigners who follow this advice cope well with culture shock. When you survive culture shock, you’ll find that you have a fresh outlook on your own culture and its roots, and will gain new ways of understanding yourself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back on track with the mood

I have yesterday arrived to Rotterdam for AIESEC exchange strategic meeting – Exchange Growth Summit, which is happening every year and mostly the members of AIESEC International global teams are coming here, so all together around 25 people. Some of you know, that I’m part of exchange quality board which states as a guard for delivering quality exchange experiences for your interns and I’m the team leader of the auditing team there. This meeting aims to review the current performance of our organization in terms of achieving the exchange goals we have by 2010 and setting up certain initiatives, strategies towards achieving them and some other things, like reviewing the policies, projects etc.

I came here right after being the facilitator of our regional Baltic conference in Riga, Latvia called ENERGY, where my dear friends from Almaty have been facilitating as well. That was really an amazing time to be spent together after almost half a year of not meeting each other, but communicating online – was cool just to chat, remember the past moments, laugh on the silly jokes, get to know how my friends are doing currently etc.. There I have understood so much, that I’m missing a lot our people’s attitude we have in my country (at least among my friends) being quite positive, energetic, open-minded as I feel that these unique cultural characteristics I started to loose, as I’m started to be very much stressed out of everything I do and very much self-critical to myself, even if there is no reason for that. One of my friends told me even, that I have changed a lot and started to miss my positive approach to the life, being nervous often and in “grey” mood all the time and less smiling. Don’t know, I think I have started to absorb some strange cultural features living in Estonia, and does it mean loosing the personality, I don’t know… I have noticed in myself too, that I have been not enjoying all the things I’m doing now and just doing the stuff and activities automatically and sometimes I’m feeling so much bored, that even don’t care about the result to be achieved. I’m sorry, to be so much negative, but that’s the way it is now… Or I’m just simply tired of the feeling of doing the same things I have already experienced before. And that blocks my entrepreneurship and innovative approach I have been always having. Gosh…

The conference was itself fine, but could be much better delivered still for sure in terms of skills building knowledge, practical tips, motivation for members who are on the leadership positions right now in the organization. And that frustrates me as well, that we didn’t deliver the valuable knowledge, inspiration for that people… But maybe again I’m too critical, as for now I’ve heard that the conference experience was quite positive for them… I don’t know the truth, if it exists at all. The conference topic itself was LEADERSHIP and creating the message, that it is about the attitude itself and leadership potential exists in everyone of us, you just have to develop it by every day hard work. I had to deliver the session, which supposed to be inspirational one for the members and has a role being an opening for the whole leadership track, but don’t know how did I go along with that. I would better deliver smth more on skills, but smth inspirational always takes time from me and energy… But that’s the personal challenge and maybe next time I will put me in developing only inspirational sessions in order to develop that part. Crazy…

Defining Leadership For You

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: leadership)

Till the end of this working week I’m in Netherlands and feeling somehow fine, working on completely different thing I used to for the past months and enjoying that a lot and people – AIESEC friends around me. There is a special season in AIESEC started when many countries release their MC opportunities and everybody asks you – what’s NEXT? For example, right now there are 3 people sitting next to me writing their applications for running for Presidents of AIESEC countries… and just got to know that one of the incredible persons is (thinking of) applying for AIESEC Kazakhstan president position. Amazing how aiesecers are crazy… Well, I have already decided 100% to stop working for AIESEC after my term in Estonia and looking for some stability for a certain period of my life and searching for professional experience. There are moments when you feel that’s time to stop with AIESEC… And here it is coming for me as well.

I have bought tickets back home to spend 2 weeks with my family and friends...

I'm going to Georgia for Central Asia and Caucasus conference in the end of april...

In AIESEC Estonia we release soon the applications for our MC positions... 

It was snowing a lot in Riga and as I've heared in Tallinn too...

I'm missing YOU a lot, even you don't talk to me anymore...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

First snow in Almaty

Today was talking on the phone with my parents to plan my visit back home for New Year *not for Christmas, as kazakh people don't have this holiday, as we are muslims by religion. As they told me, the autumn is already over in Almaty and there is a first snow fell today or maybe even some days ago... 

It's so interesting how I immediately started to picture in my memory, how my city looks like in the first days of snowfall. The first memory was imagining long alleys along the main avenue, when the trees are like bowing to you due to heavy "wet" snow on their branches... It's just an awesome scenery!

Looking forward to meet my parents, relatives and friends very soon...

My warm hugs from cold Tallinn...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Change can happen

I guess this week and more talking about 4th November 2008 is and will be one of the most remarkable times not only in the history of US, but for the whole world itself. We haven’t seen for a long time such a sense of unity among people like this since 9/11 all around the globe, talking and believing about hope and change. We can see that people in US, being the most leading country in the world economy, were awaiting and needed a change in the politics of their country to be transformed to a totally new angle. This transformations they have recognized in one person, the elected President – Barack Obama, the very 1st in the history of US black president and that tells smth as well.

In Obama’s victory speech you could even personally feel how powerful that person is, who can actually not only tell the right things, but empower the whole audience, where everybody can find the connections between his/her own ideas and things they are awaited for a long period of time in their country – he lights up the whole audience!… He speaks by the stories of simple people and being this way very authentic and intelligent… He isn’t afraid of bringing a new era and that’s what the truly leader of the country is.

That was an amazing leadership talk – Barack Obama’s Victory speech in Chicago *by some reasons the video cant be seen here from the blog

Here you may read the comments to Obama’s speech by Bert Decker and here is an article of Nisha Chittal on "The End of Youth Apathy" on what was happening among her college campus students.

We haven’t seen for a long time, how the whole world has been so emotional, supportive and excited in the end. Seems, that was the world’s elections…

"For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tommorow."

~ Barack Obama, President-elect of the United States of America

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rain drops by Regina Spector

You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Good autumn to you…

Time is passing and here I am again with you…

Quite many things happened since my last stories I posted here and especially after my trip to an amazing country like Brazil. As after any kind of trip you go, after coming back there are tons of tasks or things to be sorted out and complete, that making you some times not having any time to breath… As a result of 3 weeks trip and conference itself, it took me almost a month to come back to the normal conditions… well, that’s even more fun for you in the end, but not much fun for your health, which you are forgetting to treat time by time ;) It like in some advertising: “hello, who are you?”, “I’m your immunity and I’m leaving you, as another person is treating me better”…

Right now started one of the most important periods in my term as being responsible for an exchange area – recruitment of young people, whom AIESEC will give an opportunity to explore the world by our internships and at the same time giving to the local companies and organizations opportunity to find the solutions for their business processes by again our program. Well, let’s see how many of my effort, which were put into ensuring the main processes will work to bring the most results, will pump up with the goals, we hit to be achieved. At the same time things are happening during the day time, makes you feel not so much ambitious anymore, as you are always working with the young people, who actually bringing the results, but at the same time who always learn and that’s mainly one of the key things – people learn on their mistakes, develop themselves and becoming smarter, than they were before. But for the person, who is coming from another country this logic might not work… Especially if you have already passed that part in your life and now searching for something in your experience, which will bring a value to the next periods of your career, development or whatever… Now I’m feeling that I started to miss that part…

Quite for a long period of time, I’m feeling that nothing gets me feel excited and experience new things. Seems that we have already had it “some day ago”… Maybe that’s only a routine process, which makes you feel down… I’m feeling that the things I’m doing now is just same as I was doing previous years, but sure the environment has changed… that feeling of frustration is already for a month and I see that’s not right… Just same AIESEC every day… 

How often do you feel that smth you wanted to get – like buying a new cloth, book recommended to be read or let’s say fruit, in the reality it isn’t smth you were expecting too? Of course, life is about taking risks, “tasting things for probation” and learning, but isn’t that also unfair, that you feel wasting your time and resources…  

I was having this thought coming to me once I was standing in the bus stop when it was raining and brought an example of apple, as being my favorite fruit. I have shared some of that thoughts with certain people already…

You wanna buy a tasty-looking apple in the shop, on the way already expecting its taste and after getting it, you see that it’s actually worm-eaten. And your expectations are broken… Different people are acting differently… One of them throw it away and get buy a pear, others – cut the worm-eaten parts and enjoy the rest of an apple, third part of people are eating whole apple, just because they paid for it; some individuals will use it to bake apple-roll or making a fruit compote… Basically, you can always do something with that and in the end of the day what matters – you are happy or still not… 

That’s again about choices you take and values you get out of it… But that’s still a question for me…

Enjoy eating your apples… 

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm an AIESECer!

All AIESEC countries are running member's recruitment nowadays and most of them are running "I'm an AIESECer!" campaign, when real AIESEC members and alumnus share their personal stories about their experience in AIESEC. I'm really glad that my LC in Almaty is running actively the same promotion and I'm sure it will attract some of the smart, ambitious and proactive people, who will lead the organization in the nearest future, develop themselves and other individuals. Waiting for the outcomes of this campaign...

Here is the web-page with stories (click on the names of people) -

Thanks, my lovely AIESEC Almaty! :)

Talent Magnet

Hi Aigerim,

One of the most difficult transitions in anyone's career is the switch from individual performer to manager or supervisor. Most people struggle with this change until they realize a simple truth; it's not their job to get things done, but to get things done through others. And getting things done through others is a lot easier when you have talent on your team.

Whether you call them A-players, stars or high-potentials, the most talented people in an industry are not just 10% more valuable than their average colleagues they are often two, five or ten times more valuable. Because of this talented people have more choice in who they work with and for. This means that you need a strategy for finding, keeping and liberating talent. Here are some guidelines for creating a talent strategy that gets results for your team and grows leaders for your organization.

Finding Talent

Know What You Want: Not every role on your team requires an A-player. What skills or talents will make the difference for your division? One air transport company realized that they had no problem finding pilots but really needed negotiators to work with airports to get landing rights. Once they found the right negotiators their growth more than doubled. Maybe you need a graphic designer instead of a programmer, a caring customer service rep instead of a sales person or an architect instead of an engineer. And once you find that person don't let their resume or appearance get in the way.

Always be looking: You can't expect an A-player to be available when you have an opening. Keep an eye out for the skills and attitude you need all the time. If necessary, find a role for a talented person that becomes available.

Look Everywhere: Talented people usually aren't looking for work so you may not find them on job boards. Yes, check out resumes, however, look at competitors, suppliers and your network for the people you need. One financial planning company regularly hires teachers to sell their products because of their ability to educate clients. What skills do you need that might be in other industries? When you get beyond the need for specific experience you open up a universe of possibilities.

Keeping Talent

Challenge Them: Beyond a certain point (usually a bit higher than average) pay ceases to motivate people. What really engages talented people is challenging work. Allow them to prove themselves. Give them challenging, important projects that make a difference. You'll be amazed by their performance.

Talent Loves Company: High performers love working with other high performers. Instead of putting your A players on different projects put them all on one important project. They'll thrive on each other's energy and skills.

Get Out of the Way: The more talented people often require less help than most other people. Once you have given them clear goals and honest performance feedback your job is to give them tools and remove barriers. Learn to get comfortable with people who are probably far better than you at what they do.

Liberating Talent

Expose them to Senior Leadership: Don't be afraid to show your people off to your boss and their boss. Talented people thrive on that kind of challenge and it shows the organization that you are a star magnet.

Become the Pipeline: Nothing will make you more valuable to your organization than becoming the go to person for talent. Give your people the opportunity to work elsewhere in the organization. Put them on cross-functional teams, loan them to other managers or even promote them into completely new roles.

Create Alumni: A large consulting company assumes that most of their talented people will leave within 5-7 years of hiring. They support their people as they move on and in so doing create a powerful alumni network that brings in more business and more talent. You won't have A-players forever. Make sure that when they move on they think of you first.

In Leadership,

Robin Sharma

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The International congress in Brazil is finished and since yesterday night I’m already back home to Tallinn, where the weather didn’t change at all since we left – same rainy and cloudy weather. Bit its nice to be back to the permanent place, which I already started to call home :)

Well, the main question you would expect from me to be answered is the very broad one “So, how was it!?” I would say that the feelings after it are kind of mixed and maybe a bit lost. Don’t expect from me to write smth extraordinary, just general thoughts.

From the cultural perspective to visit such a country like Brazil was really exciting and it fulfilled my expectations more than that! I would describe the feeling when I landed to Brazil and my intern, Natalia, picked me up from the airport, I was feeling like a “happy puppy”, who is full of energy to observe everything around, jumping from one place to another and full of excitement in the eyes! The same feeling I had when I had a trip to India… That’s good to be a tourist sometimes :)

From my small observations I would describe Brazil as a country full of surprises and it’s really a place to be! Every moment you are there, you experience some differences which make you smile all the time. Well, if any Brazilian reads this blog post, don’t take these thoughts too much into consideration as I had only couple of weeks in Brazil and have been only in Sao-Paolo and Goias district to observe. Of course, the country is so huge that cultures inside varies greatly by regions. 

Well, the definite thing not only about Brazil, but the whole Latin America countries is that they are always late. For example, our Study tour OC picked us up from the place 1,5 hour later than it should be, or we traveled to Goiania 16 hours instead of 12 and there are some more small examples. One of my AIESEC friends, who is in MC Ecuador told me, that he has already adjusted to that and its ok waiting for a person during 1 hour and he can do smth else during this time. Well, in our culture it’s also ok to be late, but not for that huge time amounts…

As I understood, the food in Brazilian culture matters a lot and people enjoy having it and in the families prefer to have it all together. Brazilians love eating meet and I even tasted blood-meet – woooh!… :) Well, the food is really tasty and I know being in another country for a longer period it matters a lot. Various exotic fruits confuse you sometimes – which way to eat them? Do you know how the palm tree tastes? Have you ever tried ice-cream with the taste of cheese? What’s açaí – the fruit everyone talks about? Do you know that rice and beans are the most common meals in Brazil? Can you cook Pão de Queijo (“cheese bread”) at home? Did you know that Brazilian cheese and milk products are one of the best ones in the world? Caipirinha for lunch and dinner? 
Rice and brown beans
Pão de queijo (“cheese bread”)
Serving of açaí pulp
Caipirinha - National cocktail of Brazil

My main location was São Paulo – the largest city in Brazil, located in the South-East of the country with population over 10 mln people as officially counted, but I’m sure it’s much more. The city itself is really huge and you can’t tell – where is the centre of the city? It might be anywhere! When I have just arrived to the city, I could from the 1st moment breath the “smell” of the city – polluted, huge city full of cars and motorbikes (less than in India but still popular). Almaty has sometimes the same smell, especially in summer time, when there is nothing to breath in a hot weather. The traffic jam can be enormous in São Paulo and you can stay couple of hours sometimes to get from one place to another, that’s why people are sometimes afraid of planning somewhere to go by car as you may be stuck in any time during the day. Better to go by train, metro or observe the nearest neighborhoods. 

Traffic jam in São Paulo

In São Paulo you may find people with different social classes and its ok, if in the city next to some more or less modern building you may meet bunch of houses called slums (трущобы), and you can even imagine how people might live in these conditions – housings built from several different-sized wooden boards covered by the cardboards as an entrance to the “house” or smth else. There are certain parts of the city full of slums and there is always some boss of the slum which is ruled by him. Remember, the Mexican soap opera "Wild Rose" («Дикая Роза»)? So, the same housing concept. Well, it’s still looked “nicer” than the living conditions in India for poor people who belong to untouched cast.

Slums in São Paulo
People are expressive and emotional, with warm attitude and positive even if smth goes wrong and not according to plan – they still keep it simple! People look differently, you can’t certainly say “Hey, that’s definitely Brazilian!” – they might look like dark skin Afro-Brazilian to white skin with blond hears and blue eyes. So depends again where the person comes from – South or North part of the country? Amazons or savannas? 

Quite few people speak English in Brazil. And that makes I guess trainees to be put to the conditions of learning local language. I find it perfect!

There are loads of Japanese people live in São Paulo and they even have their own neighborhood. 
The Japanese-speaking community of São Paulo live mostly in Liberdade Neighbourhood.

To be engaged in criminality among young low class people is quite common and all the time my friends were scared me to be attentive with my bag or any other belongings. I know, that’s should be in any country you travel, but in Brazil this should be your first rule. It’s quite ok, if in the street or even in the metro full of people, one person comes closer to you with gun or knife hidden in the shirt and tells calmly “That’s robbery… Give me your bag and watches”. Or when you sit in the car in front and someone comes to you and tells to get out from the car and then you find it several blocks ahead with no laptop bag at least. These cases are common in big cities like São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, don’t know about the other cities. And you are lucky when police is somewhere around and some cases you might get some stuff back, if you are smart to react immediately. 

Because of those social issues, for young people from poor families it’s quite easy way to start being engaged to criminality and if you don’t pay attention to them in a certain time, the may go down and follow the example I showed above. In Goiania city we have visited one NGO, which is supporting young people from poor families in their -teens to learn and study how to enter the legal job market – so they attend this school and after that may work legally in certain places. I’m sure, that’s one of the small examples how third sector in Brazil helps to prevent social crisis like that. And it was really admiring to see, how people are into that with the whole concept and idea they have. It made me to think about social issues we have in my country, this concept can be relevant anywhere in developing countries.

Well, that’s some general observations I have noticed being in Brazil and I’m really happy that my parents supported me with an opportunity to visit this country. Well, I’m already keen to come there back for internship maybe and doesn’t matter which type of it, at least for two objectives – learn Portuguese and capoeira. 

These are simple reasons which make people travel around the world…
Smog in São Paulo

São Paulo Sé Cathedral
PS. If I manage with my time, I will write back about IC experience, as hectic time is coming in AIESEC… Try to enjoy autumn and don't get freezed! :)

Friday, August 22, 2008


Well, let me tell you where I am now, for those who don’t know that… Since the middle of the last week I am in the country where some of you are dreaming to be, the country with the huge cultural history behind it, one of the biggest country and developing region of the world, totally another continent – I’m in BRAZIL.

I have arrived here with my entire MC AIESEC Estonia team for AIESEC International Congress, the hugest conference ever in our organization which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It’s expected to be the richest and flashy celebration of success of our organization since it was established in 1948 after the II WW, capitalizing on what was achieved and what impact brings AIESEC to country communities until now.

Before the conference started we have attended the study tour from LC Goiania to the region of Brazil called Goias, here are some pictures from the tour.

After that we had 3 days of conference pre-meeting, where it was a great pleasure for me to meet again certain AIESEC friends and chat with them on what’s going on with their lives, as well as share about my feelings being in international MC. Until now feeling like a happy puppy to be here :)

Some postings with photos will be coming soon,