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September 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
Sonya's leaving party
Sonya's leaving party

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.

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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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Avoiding the Tornado

The following day after the heavy downpour Juan K told me that there had been a tornado on the coast that came onto the land near to the university. While all of the other universities in the area were closed and evacuated, apparently students at Uninorte were unimpressed with the lack of urgency and response displayed by their university!

Today was the first day I experienced having to get on and off the bus while it was moving - right after witnessing a guy losing his grip and falling off the bus. I thought the stories of such incidents were a myth until I experienced it myself. One of the best aspects of the roads in Barranquilla is the bus system - the locals find it amusing when I praise it: it's clean and efficient compared to buses back home - never having to wait more than a few minutes maximum for the next bus to come along. I think they are so efficient as they are all in competition with each other for customers, racing along the roads to be the first to pick people up.

Another aspect of the buses is the street sellers who get on the bus, climbing over the barrier without any disapproval from the driver. The other day a kid selling stickers came around - although I did not understand what he was saying - it sounded passionate and a hard sell as he placed a sticker on everyone and then collected the majority of them afterwards as well as some loose change from people.

Dinner with work…

Juliet and James
Juliet & James dressed up!

This week the foundation had a visit from Marc Jan Mataheru, visiting from the Bernard Van Leer foundation over in the Netherlands, one of the many supporting organisations of the foundation we are working for.

As part of his visit, we were taken out to dinner with the staff of the foundation in honour of his visit. The dinner was located in the Barranquilla Plaza, conveniently just opposite Juan K's apartment. It was an interesting evening as we spoke to Marc in English gaining a deeper understanding of how the two foundations work together. Struggling further with Spanish we laughed a lot and spent time with Beegy and Jese those we worked closely with (see photo at the foot of the page).

Another culture - home from home

Since I arrived in the country, being Jewish I tried to make contact with the local Jews in Barranquilla. Despite numerous attempts I finally got a response, a phone call from the Rabbi inviting me to the service.

This was really special experience, meeting the local community and recognising local tunes of some of the prayers at the Friday evening service. After the service, I was welcomed back to a family's home for dinner. While the family were disappointed to hear it had taken so long to get in contact with the community, they apologised and were more than pleased to have me as a visitor. They were all so impressed with the adventures that I had had over the last few weeks and wished that more people were able to experience what I have here in Colombia.

Sonya's leaving party

After the meal they kindly dropped me off at an AIESECers house for Sonya's leaving party - another fun-filled night except when one of the AIESECers ended up walking in to a glass door with a tray of glasses, cutting herself, resulting in as hospital trip. She was fine in the end after having to have stitches.

River in the street
River in the street

In the morning on Saturday, Dan Uno and I went shopping for a bit. As it began to rain, I saw for the first time mini 'arroyos' (rivers) - flooding in the streets, see photo left. It can get much worse than this though.

In the afternoon we went back to Juli's swimming pool on the coast for one last time.

At Juli's pool
At Juli's pool

Bee, Laura and Jen were in town for the night having come back from Tayrona National Park - I had wanted to go with them but we were going the following weekend. We all went out for a few drinks for Juli's birthday.

In true Colombian style, we were running late so only half the people got in the club. The others went to another club. Bee was staying at Juan K's as well. When Laura and Jen went home, on a whim Bee and I ended up going up to the 26th floor of the building to see the view of the city at night, we ended up talking into the early hours of the morning - sharing stories of the last few weeks.

Written by James Eder

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