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Friday 30 July 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
James and Julianna, president of the local AIESEC
James and Julianna, local AIESEC president

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

Stevie Cameron
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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View a printable version of this page.
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The end of my first week

The rain stopped and as we were at university for most of the day, we were not affected by the problems with the roads. However, Dan later told me he couldn't go to work until the water subsided as he couldn't even cross the street!

The rest of the week was really great - I'm gaining a deeper understanding of the foundation and its work, visiting more pre-schools and setting our goals and expectations for the next few months.

The biggest challenge for me personally is that I really want have a positive impact here and make a real difference to the foundation. It seems like it's not going to be easy, but I didn't expect it to be.

Working at Uninorte

University information board
James at Uninorte

The office of the foundation I am working for is based at the Uninorte (University of the North), about a 15 minute bus journey away.

Both Juliet and I meet a few minutes from where we live to get a bus each morning. It is really great being located at the university as every lunchtime, we meet with the local AIESECers to eat and there are always people about.

The university is really amazing, very different from anything I expected. It is a campus comparable to that of a European university, with around 7000 students.

University information board
James tries out the high-tech video-watching terminals

Café du Nord is an amazing resource centre in the middle of the campus - it's a room full of around 50 of the latest computers connected to broadband, there's an interactive games room as well as a resource centre to watch videos on these amazing fold-out leather armchairs which recline completely horizontally!

Relaxing weekend

James and Juliet
James & Juliet

On Friday night, we all went out to an AIESECers house and then up to a club on the top floor of a hotel for salsa dancing into the early hours of the morning.

On Saturday, around 20 of us went out of Barranquilla to the coast (about 20 minutes away) where the local AIESEC committee president has a family house. It was amazing, with a swimming pool right on the edge of the land with the back drop of the Atlantic Ocean.

James and Juliet
James & Sonya in the pool

The day was spent swimming and relaxing, enjoying the coastal breeze and the less humid air.

Sunday was spent familiarising ourselves with the local area, walking around and visiting the local mall which was surprisingly modern with all the latest brand names at around a third of the UK high street prices.

Colombian timekeeping

The biggest challenge here so far is simply the timing and punctuality - or the lack of it. It is funny really as there are many similarities between Colombia and the Philippines where I was last summer. Punctuality is one of those similarities. Timings for anything are flexible.

At first it can be frustrating but once adjusted to Colombia time, it's all good - it just takes a bit of getting used to, especially as 10 minutes here can last up to an hour...

My Spanish is coming on slowly; I have adjusted to Colombian time; the only thing I am still finding a bit difficult is the humidity. Even just minutes outside, I break into a sweat. But the locals are complaining each day it is hotter than the last - apparently it is only going to get worse as we enter August, I can't wait... :-/

One week on

It is really amazing how far I have come in one week and how familiar the local Colombians are.

Dan and James at the coast
Dan and James at the coast

Living with a family, I have been made feel so welcome, struggling to leave the house every morning on time as they want to make sure I have eaten a good breakfast which is normally hot and specially cooked.

I am so grateful and so far there has barely been any time where we have been left to our own devices - locals constantly driving us places and making sure everything's OK.

I am really looking forward to getting really stuck into the work for the foundation - there are more pre-school visits planned for this week.

Written by James Eder

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