It’s Colombia, Not Columbia

Camilo Pabón, Contributor
Stan Chang, Contributor

Colombia Trek: A week in the land of Magical Realism. Camilo Pabón (MBA ’20) reports, with photography by Stan Chang (MBA ’20).

For a week during spring break, 300 students from HBS got to travel around Colombia, visiting Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena. For many, this was their first time in the country and their first visit to South America. The result: a great collection of memories and experiences for posterity in the land of Magical Realism.

The trip started in Bogotá, where for a day and a half people got to explore some iconic areas and places (such as La Candelaria and Monserrate), tried new exotic fruits and natural juices at a market, heard about the transformation of the country, and danced the entire night in a traditional Colombian party at Andres Carne de Res.

Guatapé and Medellín were the next stops. After hiking a giant rock in Guatapé, we ended the first day with a party at a boat in the middle of a lake with great views, one of the preferred locations for our Instagrammer classmates. The visit to Medellín continued with tours that gave people the opportunity to witness the transformation of the city into a vibrant place with an exemplary transportation system, to learn about coffee (one of Colombia’s flagship products) at a local farm, and to experience the art present in different corners of the city (from the traditional sculptures of Botero to the modern street art in Comuna 13).

Cartagena was the final stop of the trip. In a mix of history and fun activities, people got to walk around the old city’s narrow streets, to enjoy the local gastronomic scene, to spend a day at an island, and to watch the sunset and the stunning views of the city from a catamaran.

We, the Colombian RCs who organized this trip, are really grateful, happy, and proud that HBS got to see what Colombia has to offer and that many of you fell in love with our country. You are welcome to come back any time, and next time you will already know what arepas and aguardiente are, but most important, you will know that it’s Colombia, not Columbia.

Camilo Pabón (MBA ’20) is from Cúcuta, Colombia, and graduated from Universidad de Los Andes (in Bogotá, Colombia) in 2011 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Economics. Upon graduation, Camilo joined J.P. Morgan’s Latin America Investment Banking team, where he worked for 6½ years in the Bogotá, New York, and Mexico City offices. Prior to starting his MBA, Camilo also spent some months in São Paulo, Brazil, working for a startup in the fintech space. Camilo is part of the Harvard Business School’s class of 2020 and is a proud member of section H.

Stan Chang (MS/MBA ’20) is an RC in Section C. He enjoys travel photography and planning activities for his section in his role as social chair. Stan is part of the inaugural MS/MBA cohort and looks forward to blending his engineering experience with his business learnings to bring cutting edge technologies to market.