NOTE: This entry was written to correspond with Thank you AIESEC Australia Day (1 June). Of course, I also owe a very big thank you to AIESEC in the Philippines as well, particularly AIESEC UP Diliman.
There are two things I would like to thank AIESEC Australia for.
First is the chance. The chance, at the age of 23, to be financially independent and living on my own in a foreign country. The chance for me to learn how to cook my own meals and do my own laundry. The chance for me to set up my own savings account and manage my spending. The chance for me, for once, to learn how to attend to my own needs. Had it not been for this chance, I seriously would not have bothered.
Thank you for the chance to work at a prestigious University and be in an industry I truly believe in. For the chance to help students make the most out of University life the same way my own University did. For the chance to have the trust and support of my colleagues, supervisor, and my supervisor’s supervisors. For the chance to work in a safe, equal work environment that cares little about rank and hierarchy, and cares more about whether its employees are happy. For the chance to have real responsibilities that require initiative and not just mere obedience. Had it not been for this chance, I would still be stuck in a boring 9-to-5-and-beyond, my brain slowly rotting away from repetitive, menial tasks for megalomaniac higher-ups.
Thank you for the chance to make everyday a psychologist’s field day. For the chance to meet people whose
personalities are too big for my degree to handle. For the chance to have friends who speak at least two languages. For the chance to have friends whose families come from all over the world and somehow their way Down Under. For the chance to have friends who have lived in more cities than I ever intend to. For the chance to have someone to have Sunday brunch, coffee dates, and late-night Maccas runs with. For the chance to dance with them like no one’s watching, even if I hate dancing. For the chance to learn from them, and them from me. Had it not been for this chance, I would never be as thankful and proud as I am now that I am me, that I am Filipino, that I come from where I do.
I lived a pretty comfortable and straightforward life before coming to Australia, all set to follow a fail-proof, tried-and-tested sequence: graduate with honours, get job, make money, get promotion, get married, get rich, and die happy. I do not know where that came from – whether from my culture or my upbringing – but I grew up in a world where no one thought to ask what the alternatives are. It is as if our lives were preordained to follow a predictable path, where swaying from the norm will get you nowhere.
I hadn’t realized how far I’d “strayed” until my Mom asked me the other day: “Where will you be next year?” Now that’s a question I have never been asked before. Up until then, my life was always a matter of what, and never a question of where; I knew I wanted to be something, but I have never thought of being literaly somewhere.
And that is the second thing I thank AIESEC Australia for – the choice, because the worst feeling in the world is feeling like you do not have one. Thank you for teaching me that life is not linear and one-dimensional; there’s always more than one right answer, direction, path, possibility or flavor – and insisting on one just limits you.
Thank you AIESEC Australia, and AIESEC Melbourne in particular: for the chances I did not know I was missing; and the choices I never knew I had. But more than anything, thank you for this:
Marielle Dado is a Student Experience Officer at the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Business Economics. She never did have an answer to her mother’s question.