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Tuesday 27 July 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
Visiting a local pre-school
Visiting a local pre-school

James Eder is sharing his business skills with local people in Colombia this summer.

He's travelling abroad with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.

SEE ALSO

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Stevie's in The Philippines.
Introduction
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Introduction
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Introduction
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila
Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Colombia
Profile of the South American country from BBC News.

Map
Follow James' travels on this map of Colombia from Lonely Planet.

James' photos
Check out James' prints online.
WEB LINKS

AIESEC
Official website for the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

FACTS

COLOMBIA FACTS

Population: 44.2 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Bogota
Major language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Money: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
Exports: Petrol, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, flowers, chemicals, emeralds, cotton,, sugar, livestock

AIESEC FACTS

AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

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First Impressions

Although my Spanish was and is still very limited I am lucky as most of the local AIESECers can speak English very well.

James Eder with Juan
James & housemate Juan

I am staying with Juan Carlos, known also as Juan K, it is harder to communicate with his family but I am trying and already feel like I have improved.

Everyone I have come in contact with are so friendly. In the house, I am constantly offered more food and drink with meals always prepared - I am feeling truly spoilt.

It is different in some ways to how I expected it, with all the modern appliances and western television with the delights of MTV and other such channels. Mobile phones are used less here, with very few people texting as calling each other is so cheap and also you can't text cross network.

A Colombian bus
A Colombian bus

The roads and layout seems in many ways Americanised with a grid system and roads numbered vertically & horizontally. There seems to be no real centre for the city and the transport is mainly by bus or taxi with the average journey costing about 20 pence, 1000 Colombian Peso.

UK students in Colombia

This summer, AIESEC UK sent a number of people besides me to Barranquilla on summer opportunities. I'll introduce them now as they are likely to come up quite often over the next two months.

Sonya is from AIESEC Southampton working on the CEED programme (Cultural Envoy for Exchange Development) helping the local committee.

Dan Evans is also from Southampton working on the Pioneers programme with another charity.

James and Juliet
James and Juliet

Juliet Hiner is from AIESEC Sheffield and she is working with my charity, the Costa Atlantica Project.

Dave is a graduate from Strathclyde University who is working as a teacher for a college based at the Universidad del Norte (University of the North).

Finally, Dan Tatnall-Murray another student from Birmingham University who is also working for another development charity.

Independence Day

Since arriving I had an introduction at work on Monday but then went to the Beach on Tuesday as it was Colombia's Independence Day. It's not really celebrated apparently - at least not as much as Love and Friendship Day in the second week of September. At any rate, it was an excuse to take the day off work.

James and Dan standing with surfboards
Dan & James at the beach

A group of us headed for the beach. It was a bit cooler on the coast and great to be in and out of the water the whole day. I tried my luck with surfing with little success but it was great fun!

The day ended with sitting outside watching Colombia vs. Argentina in The America's Soccer Cup. Unfortunately Colombia lost but it was still a great night adjusting to the climate and getting to know the locals that have all embraced their new little UK community.

Visiting local pre-schools

Work so far has been really interesting. Yesterday, I spent the whole day visiting local pre-schools that our foundation supports, assessing the current situation before we see how they might be able to be helped and improved.

At first glance, the programme is really impressive and aims to build and improve communities with greater family involvement and education. The Costa Atlantica Project is part of the Bernard van Leer Foundation which is involved globally in supporting projects which are designed to improve the educational, social and developmental opportunities of the children from birth until the age of eight. There are eight communities supported locally and we will visit the rest of them over the coming week.

Downpour

Flood warning sign
Flood warning sign

As we arrived at work today, the heavens opened and there has been thunder and lightening most of the morning, with loss of power twice but only briefly. There are signs on the street warning of rivers on roads.

As Barranquilla is built on the coast, all the roads are prone to flooding, causing people to stay at home and the city to come to a standstill, apparently. Hopefully it will ease up soon. At least the thunder has stopped.

Written by James Eder

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