A Travellerspoint blog

Colombia

NSCC in Colombia day 2

rain 15 °C

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We are very lucky on this trip to Bogota to have help from our colleague Jos Nolle, the International Director at Niagara College who is on secondment to the Association of Canadian Community Colleges Education for Employment (EFE) project in Colombia for a year. Jos is well known to many in the international education field in Canada and has been working with partners in South America for many years.

Jos has helped us set up meetings and network with several agencies and organizations in Bogota, and we thanked him by buying him lunch (as they say, no such thing as a free lunch!). Jos also shared alot of background on the EFE project, the education system and economic and political trends in Colombia and gave us some great advice on working with student exchange partners in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Thank you Jos! Jos has a great blog, and some good photos on what he is up to and you can also see what we had for lunch on his blog: http://josnolle.blogspot.com

Most of our visit in Bogota involved meetings to help us research opportunities for NSCC in Colombia, but we were also able to visit our new exchange partner university CESA in Bogota. CESA is a well respected business school, and we were able to meet with the Rector, several staff, visit the beautiful campus of older restored homes which have been equipped with modern equipment and even features a stock trading centre (students are given a project to invest College funds in the stock market each term! no pressure!). We also had the pleasure to meet Alejandra Rivera, a bright and outgoing student who has selected by CESA for an Canadian Government ELAP scholarship application to study for a semester at NSCC. Alejandra is very excited to come to NSCC, and we hope she is awarded the scholarship!

Our partnership discussions with CESA began when International Director Eden Bolivar visited NSCC during the ELAP mission last fall. I asked her about her impressions of NSCC from that visit:

"The visit to Nova Scotia Community College was very fruitful and very well organized. I had the chance to see that Community Colleges in Canada have very good infrastructure facilities and offer very high quality programs. Usually in developing countries like Colombia, some students think that the programs offered by Community Colleges are inferior to those offered by universities. This visit allowed me to have more information that I could relay to our students.
The presentation done by NSCC was very interesting and I learned that articulation agreements exist between community colleges and universities giving students different pathways to develop professionally. Lunch was superb and the visit to the culinary arts was fun and interesting"

We are just getting accustomed to lively Bogota but it is already time to leave... Next stop: Arequipa, Peru

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 16:01 Archived in Colombia Tagged canada colombia nova_scotia nscc Comments (0)

NSCC in Colombia day 1

rain 14 °C

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After the first day in Bogota, Colombia arriving from Guyaquil, Ecuador, i started to notice similarities and differences between the countries even at the airport.

The first thing i noticed: i need a warmer jacket - high up in the Andes (2500 metres +), Bogota is at least 10 degrees cooler that Guayaquil at this time of year and the rain was making it feel even cooler. Yes, it is March and in Halifax there is yet another winter storm that closed NSCC campuses, but still... Also, rainy season in Bogota means you need to bring your umbrella everywhere even if it is sunny when you leave the hotel in the morning.

Second thing I noticed: both Guayaquil and Bogota have new, big, modern airports, which match the growing and expanding economies of the region. But in Bogota, you are likely to bump into Canadians at the airport. Yes, in Ecuador I did spot a few Tilly hats that probably belonged to Canadians. But the Canadians you are likely to find at the airport in Bogota are likely to be oil or mining executives. We ended up talking to an oil guy from Calgary on the shuttle bus who travels here regularly. "Extractive industries" are big business in Colombia and Canadians are involved in a big way - more than half of the international investment in mining in Colombia is Canadian. Gold mining has a long history in Colombia and the Museo del Oro in central Bogota (photo above) has a huge collection of Inca and pre-Inca gold.

Third thing: traffic is bad. It is bad in Guayaquil and bad in Bogota. The city is growing fast (7 million +), and to cope with the number of cars on the road each car has a restriction on days of the week and/or times of day it can be on the road. There are other innovations like a redesigned mass transit system and new bike paths but the traffic jams are just plain bad. One trip across town for a meeting at the Canadian Embassy took one hour one way and 15 minutes on the way back. Crossing the street is also intense!

Fourth thing: the coffee is really GOOD - here in Bogota and in Guayaquil. I work in many countries where the coffee is either non existent or instant and i am an addict, not just to the caffeine but also the taste, so this is fantastic!

Fifth thing: the food is amazing - in Guayaquil and Bogota. Lunch is the big meal in both places and it is totally different from eating a boring sandwich at your desk like many of us do in Canada. A big, long, delicious cultural experience.

Finally: people are friendly - here and in Guayaquil - despite the long hours people work and the traffic which would make me really cranky I think!

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 14:29 Archived in Colombia Tagged canada colombia nova_scotia nscc Comments (0)

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