My name is Maiko Aiyama. I am from Japan, and I have been studying at KU Leuven since September 2022.
I am currently doing an internship at Serve the City Leuven and also joining volunteer projects at STC Leuven and STC Brussels.
My first experience with STC was a project in Brussels, called ‘Street Kindness’. We made a lot of sandwiches and distributed them to people in need on the streets of Brussels.
This project led me to participate in many more projects because through volunteering, I was able to meet kinds of people I had never met before, people I could not have met in Japan, people I could not have met just by studying at the university, etc.
In Japan, talking to homeless people on the streets had never crossed my mind. Through this project, the experience of talking to them and hearing their background was a very enriching experience, and I will never forget the smiles on their faces when I handed sandwiches to the people living on the streets and struck up a conversation with them. This experience taught me the importance of treating people as individuals rather than labeling them as “homeless people”.
I have also participated in a project, in which I helped with organizing and sorting donations for refugees from Ukraine.
My favorite part of STC is not only serving the city but also providing volunteers with great opportunities to connect with the city we live in. Not only do I get a sense of accomplishment that I have contributed to society, but I also get a lot of valuable experience. Meeting and conversing with people from different backgrounds and going to different parts of the city for projects broadens my horizons. It makes me want to learn more about this city, country, and society.
Every time I join STC’s projects, I’m so impressed by how this organization has contributed to the city by organizing many projects, and I was impressed by the passion that the team members have! It inspired me to apply for an internship at STC Leuven.
Currently as an intern, I am in charge of creating content for STC Leuven’s social media accounts and recruiting volunteers for the project. I also work in the Brussels office to facilitate the collaboration between STC Leuven and STC Brussels. I am very grateful for this opportunity because since I started my internship, I have been able to meet even more people and get to know how they manage these impressive projects and how said projects are made possible behind the scenes.
I hope to work on getting more people to volunteer so that they too can get the valuable experiences and emotions that I have been able to gain from volunteering at STC.
– Maiko, Intern, Serve the City