Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Internship in Bogota Puts Theory into Practice

Following his first year at SAIS Europe, as part of a recurring summer series of articles chronicling our students’ internships, Latin American Studies Concentrator Eli BirgĂ© is spending his summer in Bogota. Below are his first reflections on the experience.

Bogota, Colombia
My summer internship in Bogota has been an elegant capstone to two semesters of study in Bologna, Italy. The experience has led me from Latin Europe to Latin America, from the Apennines to the Andes and from development theory into practice.

The Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF) is Latin America's home-grown development bank. The infrastructure team where I work is dedicated to improving Colombia's global competitiveness and domestic inclusivity through improved industrial integration and mobility.
Eli Birgé, 1yr MA student

Now is a particularly exciting time for Colombian infrastructure. Despite being endowed with immense natural resource wealth (second only to Brazil on the continent), Colombia's industrial hubs and ports are disjointed from each other by three Andean cordilleras, jungles, rivers and lousy roads. CAF's concerted effort to break this socio-economic bottleneck could unlock the country's impressive growth potential. 

My role on the infrastructure team has given me the chance to burnish the skills I acquired at SAIS, particularly in project finance, excel modelling and Spanish. Most projects are ad hoc, and my supervisor gives me the latitude to tailor them to my professional objectives. 

SAIS reunion in Bogota, Colombia
Although the workdays are long (about eleven hours) Bogota offers plenty of diversions. On weekends I take my bicycle onto the non-motorized ciclovias, discover a new fruit at the outdoor markets or crash quincinieras at the salsa clubs.  I even recently was able to attend a SAIS reunion here in Bogota. In all, my summer internship following my year at SAIS Europe in Bologna, has been off to a great start!

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