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Colombia

I recollect imagining what it would feel like to live in a castle and wear a tiara. “Princess” was a game I adored. One of my favorite stories was that of an Indian queen – Jhansi ki Rani.

RANI is queen in Hindi. REINA is queen in Spanish. RANI = REINA = QUEEN

At age eleven, playing “Princess”, dreaming of wearing a tiara and listening to stories about a brave queen – Did I ever think that one evening in Bogota, March 2009 four Colombians would start calling me “la reina de India?” Not really!

I was taught to bargain with a taxi driver in Spanish. Ofcourse he found it highly amusing. The clincher to my bargaining attempt was “Yo no soy la reina de India!” – I’m not the queen of India! It was the first time I had tried to speak in Spanish to a local.

There were somethings that struck me about Colombia and its people:

In India we are taught to believe “Atithi devo bhava” – A guest is blessed. While in Colombia I felt like maybe they believed this as well. It was like being at home.

Colombians are happy people – Walking outside university, driving through the streets or interacting with AIESECers; everywhere I looked I saw smiles and laughter! “Welcome to the happiest place in the world” Lucas said when he received me at the airport, and it’s true! In spite of the many challenges, it is a happy country.

The youth of Colombia are focused and committed to making a change. I facilitated a conference for 30 young people from across Colombia. One our first discussions looked at the social, economic and political challenges in Colombia today, and how young people in AIESEC can create a positive impact. There seemed to be a spark in every eye, to make a difference and shape a winning future for Colombia.

Young Colombians have a strong will to listen and learn. They are quick to pick up new ideas and apply these ideas in their realities. They realize that now is the time to take these ideas and make them happen!

Do you think cheese in hot chocolate would taste nice? I didn’t think so, until I tried it. The Colombians also seem to have a knack of coming up with weird food combinations that taste brilliant! 

La reina de India, Blue mountains, coffee, and a generation of talented young people working to build a future for the country is how I remember my visit to Colombia.