Meet the President of DU AIESEC: Claire Girardeau

Claire Girardeau is only a freshman at the University of Denver, yet she has already made an impact on student activities. Claire is President of the DU Chapter of AIESEC: the largest student-run organization in the world, and the only one who is endorsed by the UN. This global organization has 70,000 members and is located in 126 different countries. We sat down with Claire to learn more about her and the organization she champions.

Her Campus: Broadly speaking, what is AIESEC?Claire Girardeau: AIESEC is a global organization that sends young people abroad. It was started in 1948 in Europe after WWII with a commitment to “Peace and Fulfillment of Humankind’s Potential.” We believe that what is going to help us reach this goal is youth leadership, so what better way to advance leadership in young people than to send them abroad?

HC: How did you get involved with AIESEC?CG: I randomly found them at a student fair. I was interested in international internships so it appealed to me, and I interviewed and got in. Everything came together for me during the first retreat; I finally understood what the organization was about and the amazing opportunities they provide.

HC: What are your duties as president?CG: AIESEC is relatively new here so while many schools have established Vice Presidents and structures, I didn’t have any VPs. I thought I might be screwed, but I Facebooked people and found my Vice Presidents! My main role though is mostly oversight-communicating with Nationals, the Denver Local Committee, and the members. I organize the retreats. I have to deal with a lot of emails - especially international emails! As AIESEC says to its presidents, “The fate of the Local Committee rests on you!”

 

When Claire was elected President, the chapter dumped water on her head. 

HC: How does AIESEC send people abroad? Can you go whenever?CG: Honestly, basically. Of course there are peak seasons - summer and winter - but I get emails from Local Committees, (people who set up the internships in their country), all the time. It’s pretty cheap to go, too. For a six-week program, it is only $600 plus airfare. It’s way less expensive than programs that will cost you thousands of dollars for less time abroad. We sent eight people abroad last year and are aiming to send forty people this year. We currently have five people from other countries here: two from India, one England, and two from Eastern Europe.

HC: Have you gone abroad through AIESEC yet?CG: No, not yet! However, I’ve been sent all over for the United States for meetings: Yale, Dallas, twice to New York. I’m going to Charlotte in April. This year’s Summer Conference is in Indianapolis.

HC: What has been your favorite trip?CG: Definitely the Winter National Conference in Dallas. All forty-three chapters in the US sent people. From Denver, it was just me and the previous president, but some chapters sent as many as twenty. The people in AIESEC are very supportive. Even though they barely know you, they care about you and want you to succeed on an AIESEC level and on a personal level. It sounds cheesy, but it truly was a life-changing experience. I grew up in the white suburbs forty minutes from here, so meeting all of these different people from different countries has been mind-opening; I talked with one of the presidents from Pakistan for two hours there. This whole program has allowed me to broaden my horizons and break out of my shell.

All 43 AEISEC United States Presidents in Dallas. 

HC: How often does the DU chapter meet?CG: Our Local Committee Meetings (LCM) are on Wednesdays at 6:15 in the Nelson Conference Room. We also have function meetings: Outgoing Exchange (OGX) who help send students abroad, and Incoming Exchange (ICX) who help students coming in. So per person, there are usually two meetings a week.

HC: Where can people find out more information?CG: You can email me at [email protected] or check out our Facebook Page: AIESEC Denver: Global Opportunities!

Thanks for chatting, Claire!

Rocky Mountain Region AIESEC members at at a retreat