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September 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
Last night in Barranquilla
Last night in Barranquilla

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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The last week at work

Now it was a case of tying up loose ends - we only had two months for the full duration of our work, Juliet and I had put together a coherent proposal in English and in Spanish, with the help of local AIESECers. We met with the main person directly in charge of us at the foundation, Camillo and presented him with our findings and recommendations for what needs to be done to gain a deeper understanding of the foundation and how it can be improved and gain more help from external organisations.

Usual routine

Tuesday night came around again and it was our last movie night in Barranquilla, we saw Hombres En Llamas - which was all a bit surreal watching it in Colombia as it was about kidnappings in Mexico City, which might be, in many minds, associated with Colombia.

Preschool children

On Wednesday - our official final day at work - we went to one of the pre-schools and gave all of the children Colombian bracelets which they all seemed very happy with. We only stayed for a few hours but it was good fun and left me feeling hopeful that over the last few months, we had helped in some way to improve the situation here - really our impact will only be known further down the line, when our suggestions are implemented and work continued. We will have to wait and see…

Bee gets funding

Bee, who is working in Cali, sent out an email informing everyone of her success, one of the organisations she had spoken to had agreed to give her foundation funding - we were all so happy for her and can not imagine how good that feeling would have been. Well done Bee!

Dinner with Juan K's family

In the evening I took Juan K's family out for a Chinese dinner to thank them for their hospitality. I can't emphasise how grateful I am for all of the kindness they have showed me, welcoming me into their home and providing all my food for the duration of my stay - without their support my whole experience wouldn't have been possible.

I also invited Enis, the maid, for dinner but she said no which really was a shame. Juan K said whenever invited on occasions like this she rarely said yes. As a thank you, I bought some flowers and chocolates. It was her who made me all my meals, so I was disappointed she didn't join us for dinner, but there was nothing more I could do to persuade her.


After dinner, Juan K and I along with some other AIESECers had been invited out to have traditional South American food, empinadas. Already full from dinner, everyone else found it amusing to offer me a personal selection which I simply could not eat. I discreetly offloaded them to others near me without seeming rude...

Back to Henry's


On our last night in Barranquilla, we went to Henry's, one of the bars we started off at in my first diary article. A small gathering of the other internationals and a few of our closest AIESECers - many people couldn't make it due to the pressures of their university timetables and examinations, with some people starting as early as 6am! We then moved on from Henry's and ended up in Bongo's for our last Baranquilla salsa session - a surprisingly tame last night in Barranquilla but after Dan and Sonya had already left, it felt like we were ready to go.

Off to the airport

Breakfast at Juan K's
Breakfast at Juan K's

On Friday morning, everyone met at Juan K's for the last time to get a taxi to the airport. It was hard to believe that we were leaving with so many fond memories that the last few months have brought.

In typical Colombian style, we were all waiting around, us UK lot under the impression a taxi had been pre-booked. As it got closer to our departure time, Juli decided to call for a taxi - we just looked at each other and laughed at the laid-back Colombian way of organising everything. Juliet, Dan Dos and I checked in and said our final good-byes...

Written by James Eder

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Barranquilla - arrow shows Juan K's apartment
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