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AIESEC (pronounced "eye-sek", originally an acronym for Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) is a global youth organisation that develops leadership capabilities through their internal leadership programmes and engaging students and graduates in international student exchange and internship programmes for profit and non-profit organisations. Its international office is in Rotterdam, Netherlands. As of November 2010, the AIESEC network includes over 50,000 members in 110 countries and territories, making it the largest youth-run organisation in the world.[1] It is present in over 1,600 universities across the globe, provides more than 10,000 leadership experiences to its members and sends students and graduates on 10,000 international exchanges yearly.[1]



The idea behind AIESEC started in the 1930s, when representatives from schools across Europe exchanged information about various programs and schools that specialized in business and economics. Students were carrying out internships in other countries, but mostly on their own initiative, and it all came to a standstill with the onslaught of World War II.[2] In 1944, though, the neutral Scandinavian countries were still exchanging: in Stockholm, Bertil Hedberg (official at the Stockholm School of Economics) and the two students Jaroslav Zich of Czechoslovakia and Stanislas Callens of Belgium founded AIESE, the predecessor of AIESEC.[2]

Informal activity "to help develop friendly relations between member countries" began in 1946, and AIESEC was officially founded in 1948. At the time, the mission was “to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time.”[2] In 1949, 89 students participated in the so-called "Stockholm Congress", the first of many exchange programs.[3]

In the late 1950s, AIESEC/Europe reached out to the United States and established contact with Yale University and Columbia Business School to see if either or both would help establish AIESEC in the United States. The result was that they sent three students (Perry Wurst, Norm Barnett and Stephen Keiley) on an exploratory mission to the annual International Conference in Cologne, Germany, in February 1959. Upon their return home, these three students set up AIESEC chapters at both Yale and Columbia. In the summer of 1959, AIESEC/US exchanged twelve traineeships. The following year, AIESEC/US was expanded to six more colleges and exchanged more than thirty traineeships. Also AIESEC/US put forward the nomination of Morris Wolf to be the first Secretary General. He was elected and established the first permanent headquarters for AIESEC in Geneva, Switzerland in 1960. He also expanded AIESEC to Ghana, thereby establishing a beachhead for further expansion in Africa and opening the way for expansion to other continents.

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