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Friday 13 August 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
Drinks in a nightclub
Laura, James, Jen and Shane out on the town

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.


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

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
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.
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 came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the South American country from BBC News.

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

James' photos
Check out James' prints online.

Official website for the UK.

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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 (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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International mix

When going on an international AIESEC experience, you tend to not only meet people from the local country, but also other nationalities also participating in the global exchange programme. This weekend included Jimmy from Belgium, Julia from Austria and Hana from Czech Republic as well as a number of Colombians from all over the country including Cali, Bogotá, Manizales.

Pioneers Reunited

For the last two years, AIESEC in the United Kingdom has sponsored six people from across the country to travel to Colombia to work in Non-Governmental Organisations for two-month placements.

Pig's head on a platter at the flower festival
At the flower festival...

As their names will come up again I thought I would introduce the people chosen this year:
• Sabine, nicknamed Bee, from the London School of Economics, originally from Germany working in Cali
• Jen McLaren, from Strathclyde University in Scotland, based in Manizales
• Juliet Hiner (who I work with) from Sheffield University
• Dan Tatnall-Murray (nicknamed Dan Uno)
• Me, James Eder, from the University of Birmingham
• Dan Evans (nicknamed Dan Dos) from Southampton University
The last four of us are based in Barranquilla.

Flowers in the botanical gardens
Botanical gardens

Each of us with such individual skills and personalities came together for the weekend in Medellín for the first time all united in Colombia, this combined with a truly international mix made for a great weekend to be had all round.

Feria de las Flores

The Famous Flower Festival! On the first full day, we went to the botanical gardens where there were thousands of exotic flowers displayed and a load of market stalls selling traditional items and food. All the tents provided were branded by multinational companies, mainly Pepsi, which was a shame as it made the day seem so commercialised.

Jen and Laura surrounded by children
Jen and Laura are mobbed

While waiting to get into the gardens, Jen, who I originally flew out with, as well as Laura, who is also from Strathclyde, were suddenly surrounded in every direction by local children.

Jen seemed to love it and began speaking basic Spanish and English to all of them. During her stay in Colombia she is working in Manizales with children. It was good to see her enjoying it so much.

The City of Eternal Spring

AIESEC team on the metro
On the metro

The stay in Medellín was very refreshing, with a heat that was warm and not humid while the nights were cooler.

The city, compared with Barranquilla, seemed more organised and metropolitan. There is a comprehensive metro which runs through the city. Previously, it was one of the more dangerous areas in Colombia, where the majority of money was gained from the drug trafficking of cocaine.

Medellín is one of the major fashion locations with major brands including Diesel Jeans being available for 70,000 pesos - less than £15. We spent a good few hours exploring the high street stores.

Parties every night

AIESEC group pose by a statue
AIESEC crowd in Medellin

One of the great aspects of AIESEC is that they know where to take you for a great night. Each evening promised discounted entrance to clubs, more salsa and Ron (Colombian rum) - it was guaranteed to be fun-filled.

The AIESEC crowd is generally very lively and always manage to be centre of the party up on stage if there is one. The nights in Medellín were no exception.

Dan on stage with the DJ
Dan on stage with the DJ

As a singer took to the stage with a number of us (clearly not locals) standing nearby, the DJ started speaking to Dan Uno who introduced himself to the crowd, which got a cheer in response. Jen and Laura continued to represent Scotland - "Escocia".

As La Bamba came on, Dan impressed the rest of the club with his singing talents however when a number of other Spanish songs came on, Dan was lost and pulled a blank face at the DJ. All in good sprits and another great night.

Dan takes to the stage - again

Bar sign
Bar sign

The following night around 45 minutes away from central Medellín we visited another club, more Americanised with the DJ booth integrated into a police car! The toilets had a feature similar to the film Romeo and Juliet, where a fish tank separated part of the men's & women's toilets - everyone got a bit of a surprise when seeing it for the first time.

Later in the evening, a DJ appeared on stage. It was none other than the DJ from the night before! He spotted Dan in the crowd, La Bamba came on again so Dan was summoned to the stage, the centre of attention! We all joined him because I thought he might need to be rescued if the DJ started playing Spanish songs again.

Bee, James and Jen party in a club
Bee, James and Jen

The crowd cheered as they were told we're from different locations. The atmospheres in the Clubs are great, really friendly and everyone generally seems happier. I've got a feeling it has something to do with the Latin music and the warmer climate.

Written by James Eder

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