AIESEC Life

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Infamous AIESEC Tattoo!

I met Dagan Bora at at AIESEC alumni event in New York City a few months ago. I was immediately taken aback by his passion for the organization, his obvious intellect and his charisma.

But when he showed me his AIESEC tattoo, I realized he is more than the typical AIESECer! Here is the story of the tattoo, in Dagan's words:

"I like Pai. Pai, Thailand that is. I found myself adventuring with an Australian, a Kenyan, and a Russian in this beautiful region of northern Thailand near the national park Mae Hong Son. Pai is near the Burmese border. Over the years this little town has turned from a pass-through station for druggies into a wonderfully relaxed place that draws adventurers, hippies, and musicians from all over the world. You can find live reggae, massage and cookery schools, bars and clubs open all night (In the rest of Thailand, they have to close by 2am), and beautiful environmentally diverse terrain consisting of cliffs, rivers, forests and mountains. Nearby there are Lhisu hill tribe villages.

"The town itself is maybe 5 streets. I rented a small motorcycle (135cc) to get around for 2 dollars a day and 1 dollar for insurance. The nice thing about this place is that its far off the beaten road, so you don't get regular tourists. The people that come here often travel alone and are looking to meet and adventure with other travelers. As a result what you have is a lil town focused towards these types of people. The population of Pai is about 2300 people. There are over 125 guest houses in Pai and in the high season they are all full. That means that almost the entire native population of Pai works in services relating to the support of this tourist economy. As such, this is a town concentrated on 18-36 age demographic tourism - pretty cool. I visited Pai near the end of my trip to Thailand. I had just finished college and would soon begin working at my firm in NYC. So it was a time for reflection and relaxation before things got real again.

"It was in this place that I got my AIESEC tattoo.

"Nathan, the Australian I was traveling with wanted to get a huge tattoo depicting a mountain lake from Canada across his back. So I went with to four or five different artists who had rendered him sketches. While I was sitting in the tattoo shop I began to think about getting a tattoo. I never wanted one before. A tattoo is an expression of something very intimate, something philosophical, designed as art on the essential canvas of your skin. As such I could not think of anything to do. I did not want to get a symbol that might no longer have any meaning once I reinvented myself. So I asked the question," Is there anything I will keep with me forever, underlying fundamental ideas that will evolve but not disappear.?" And so AIESEC sprang to mind. If I was to be recognized, via a tattoo, as having any specific traits/ideas/beliefs/whathaveyou then I would want people to know that I am an AIESECr. I wanted to make a statement. I wanted to keep those friends I had made and memories of energetic and inspiring leaders whom I met. I wanted to remember how to break cognitive barriers - my own and others, and I wanted to remember the experiences that changed me into what I am today. More than anything I wanted to remember my commitment to making the world better through socially conscious activities. This was in a way, the culmination of my "Heading for the Future" stage in AIESEC.

"The next question to ask was how would I have it drawn and where. Since one of my purposes was to be recognized I chose something that was easily recognizable. That is the AIESEC Logo. As for where, I chose my right leg. I see AIESEC as a support. As such, there is no better place to put it than on that part of me which supports me everyday. Also, since I have two legs I can add another amazing symbol to my left leg in the future. Also, if I ever want to get something artistic on my back or front I would have to integrate the AIESEC logo, so those places were out. I thought of getting a lil' slice of individualization such as the letters Q.E.D. which is what Plato used to end his mathematical proofs with. Q.E.D. is short for Quod Erat Demonstratum or It was to Be Shown. Decided not to. Anyways!

"Before I got my tattoo I spent two days hanging out with the artist, Space (who has no tattoos) and his friends Momo and the monkey from Monkey Laundry. The monkey really liked Momo. I watched him do a couple other tattoos. The tattoo subculture is really an interesting thing. I talked with a guy who had a tiger in a bamboo forest done on his arm who highly recommended Space's skills. (Of course his real name wasn't Space. that is the name of the shop though). Now this wasn't your usual tattoo style. Space used sharpened bamboo sticks with a set of tiny conjoined pins about 1/4th a centimeter long wrapped on the end. The dye was inserted into the underlying layer of skin via these pins. It took about 25 minutes to complete, and 2 months to heal."

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