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A Tale of Three Cities: Iron Sharpens Iron Colombia

Posted July 15, 2015 by Emma Schaafsma '17

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Bogota

As part of the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy’s Iron Sharpens Iron program, we traveled from Panama to Colombia last month. Our first stop in Colombia was in Bogota. Upon arriving, we went to the El Camino School for lunch and discussion with some local business owners and economists. We learned about the decrease in poverty and insecurity since 2002 and the subsequent growth and increasing public perception of security. This coincided with the election of President Alvaro Uribe, who took the offensive against the terrorist group, FARC, or “Armed Colombian Revolutionary Forces.” We also met a future Wheaton freshman, Camila Moreno, and had the privilege of going to her family’s house for dinner. While in Bogota we also met with Vivian Morales, former attorney general and current Colombian senator. Vivian spoke on her faith, corruption issues, and the difficulties of being a woman in politics due to pervasive media scrutiny. We also had the chance to meet with her husband, a former M-19 guerilla and former Colombian senator. It was fascinating to learn about the guerilla movement in Colombia and how it has changed throughout history. 

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Cartagena

 

By the end of the Bogota leg of our trip, we were all pretty worn out. Luckily, Cartagena provided a much-needed break. While in Cartagena, we toured the old city’s massive fort. The old city was very beautiful and looked rather European. We also had a nice day of relaxing on the beach and riding jet skis. Cartagena is the historic Spanish seaport on the Caribbean and was the site of many pirate attacks.

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Medellin

In Medellin, we got back to business. Medellin was once one of the most violent cities in the world, during the reign of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Medellin drug cartel. Since his death in 1992, the city has become significantly safer due, in part, to America’s “Plan Colombia” funding. We toured Prodia, a flavor and scent company. While there, we learned about their history, strategies, and business vision. This was interesting because while in the states we had toured FONA, an American-based flavor company. Thus, we were able to compare the two companies. To add some cultural perspective, we visited a museum which displayed many Botero paintings. We also met with the Founder’s Institute, an organization that helps finance local start-ups. It was interesting to learn about how the Founder’s Institute develops these young companies. Medellin had a mild temperature and was quietly nestled between many mountains. Overall, Medellin was very beautiful and we all thoroughly enjoyed our time here. 

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Emma Schaafsma '17 traveled with Wheaton College's Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy's Iron Sharpens Iron program in Latin America this summer. Photo captions (from top): Photo of Bogota from Montserrat Peak; In Cartagena; Overlooking Medellin. Read Emma's classmate Kelen Caldwell '17's account of ISI's travels in Panama, and share your summer experiences on social media using the hashtag #MyWheaton.

 

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