Students study international business community overseas

By Amy Vanderheyden

Two NIU students are promoting peace and global understanding with other nations through AIESEC NIU, an international association of students in economics and commerce.

AIESEC NIU is a branch of a worldwide organization endeavoring to educate and interact with business communities throughout the world.

Sophomore marketing major Michael McKiernan, was selected to represent the 75 universities of AIESEC United States and recently returned from Tielen, Belgium.

In Belgium, McKiernan attended the European North American Leadership Development Seminar. Twenty-nine delegates were present at the seminar representing countries from all over the world.

McKiernan said he discussed topics such as the United Nations, Croatia, the European Community, economics and religion. In one session, they broke out into small groups and discussed the most outstanding feature of each country represented.

“I said diversity for the United States because we have people from all over the world,” McKiernan said.

Despite the diversity of languages the delegates have not had problems communicating with each other.

“The base language at the conference was English,” McKiernan said. “Everyone at the conference had a working knowledge of English so there really wasn’t a language barrier.”

In addition to the conference, McKiernan was able to experience Belgium’s culture.

“The climate was rainy and misty, and it snowed on and off,” McKiernan said. “We went into a major city north of Brussels and the people were very friendly there.”

McKiernan raised all the funds for his trip by targeting businesses.

“We have an exchange program where we bring interns to the United States to work for companies who want to expand overseas,” McKiernan said. “I read the Tribune and the Sun-Times and looked for companies that were expanding and I called them and told them about our program.”

McKiernan is not the only one attending seminars overseas.

AIESEC NIU will send sophomore engineering major Bob McGanan to Stutgartt, Germany, on Saturday for the International Reception Officer’s Meeting.

McGanan will discuss some of AIESEC’s problems and participate in a fact-finding mission to find solutions.

McGanan is the vice president of exchange for AIESEC NIU and is responsible for making sure the interns who come to the United States become accustomed to the culture so culture shock does not severely impair their work.

McGanan also said he believes companies prefer interns to professionals because they are more economical for the companies.

“It’s a lot cheaper because they are paid internship wages,” McGanan said. “The companies can then tap into the trainees’ knowledge of their country’s economy.”

Never having gone to Europe, McGanan expressed his nervousness.

“I’m kind of apprehensive, but I’m not too worried about it because I’m pretty adventurous,” McGanan said.

AIESEC NIU was founded more than 20 years ago by a group of students and faculty eager to explore international possibilities. It is part of a larger organization that acts as a liaison to the United Nations.