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Colombia new hot spot for scholarship students

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Image above: Jonathan Burkin in Medellin

Once known as one of the world’s most notorious cities during the reign of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel, Medellin in Colombia is hot again, but this time for the right reasons.

The city is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations among young New Zealanders benefitting from the Prime Minister’s Scholarships to Latin America (PMSLA).

The 11 University of Auckland students selected for the 2018-2019 PMSLA scholarships will include five doctoral candidates and six undergraduates. All 11 will complete 12-week internships with businesses in Medellin delivered through the Intern Group.

Business culture

The programme includes cultural programming, lectures and opportunities to meet with key business and government representatives. This enables participants to get both a breadth and depth of understanding of Medellin and Latin American business culture.

The first scholarships were announced by then Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce in June 2016, as an extension to the successful Prime Minister’s Scholarships to Asia. Reflecting the growing strategic importance of the Latin America to New Zealand, the programme gives young New Zealanders valuable exposure to language, culture and business in the region.

Urban transformation

More than 30 students have since travelled to Medellin for a range of reasons; some completing semester exchanges at EAFIT University or doing internships with local government and businesses, while others have completed short programmes at the Universidad de Antioquia.

The latest group, who will go in December, resulted from a 2017 visit to Medellin by the University’s International Office, along with the Dean of Graduate Studies and head of the university’s PhD programme, Dr Caroline Daley.

“We were impressed by the commitment shown by local government to the urban transformation of the city and the innovative approaches to business by organisations such as Ruta N and Bancolombia,” says Shane Ball from the International Office.

Innovative city

University arts and commerce student Jonathan Burkin, who recently returned to Auckland from a two-semester study abroad experience at EAFIT University in Medellin, agrees.

“The opportunity to study in in a city that has bounded through the face of adversity and developed into one of the world’s most innovative metropolitan areas was simply too good to miss."

He says he found living and studying there a transformative experience.

“The diverse nature of culture, language and history all combined on a daily basis to ensure I would wake up each day knowing I would smell, hear, see or do something I would otherwise never have done. I found it incredibly difficult to leave. My experience studying overseas in Colombia not only has completely changed my previous ambitions in terms of potential careers, but my overall outlook on life. I find myself driven by the idea of further learning and immersion in Latin America culture and society.”

Source: University of Auckland

This entry was posted on Aug 03, 2018

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