The campus kicked off with a welcome dinner organized by HEC, followed the day after by a reception at the Canadian Embassy in Bogota, where we met with some diplomats and commercial attachés. The first days were spent visiting various organizations in Bogota; from Inalde and Cesa, two local business schools with international reach, to Pacific Rubiales, a large petroleum company. Being the capital of the country, this city appeared more formal and corporate than the other two that we visited; and it struck me by his size and traffic.
The second city that we visited was Medellin, a place that was chosen by Citigroup as the most innovative city in the world in 2013, and that amazed us all with the use of existing relatively simple technologies in solving social problems. They use escalators and cable cars as means of mass transportation for those living on some of the many hills surrounding the city. They have earmarked a percentage of the dividend generated by the city’s utility company to develop and support innovative business ideas, for which they have created an entire ecosystem to accomplish this objective.
Last but not least, we stopped in Cartagena. A Caribbean city that held the treasuries of the Spanish empire in the 1600’s before they were shipped to the old continent. It was attacked and invaded by English pirates that sometimes succeeded, but that failed in their last and more massive attempt to conquer this charming place. We visited an NGO that works with (very) scarce resources to help extremely poor kids to have better opportunities on life; but we also saw the opposite, the container port, where huge amounts of international trade happen every day.
We had the fortune of participating in this campus while the national soccer team was playing the world cup, which permitted us to watch some games, and understand the passion that Colombian profess for their team. The Colombia campus went beyond my expectations; the visits, the activities, and the organization were formidable.