Learning and leadership in coffee country

I have always wanted to visit the place where great coffee comes from, the home of the legendary Juan Valdez, pitchman for Colombian java, and his faithful donkey, whose name escapes me. Countless computer programmers, myself among them, have blessed these two late in the night as we slaved over our bug-infested code.

So here I am, writing from the beautiful city of Cartegena, Colombia. It sits on the northern coast of South America, about three and a half hours by plane from Miami. This city has seen visits from the Pope and U.S. President Clinton, but it’s also part of a country that’s famous for cocaine, car bombings, kidnappings and a lingering economic crisis. If you ask them in Spanish, the taxi drivers will give you an update of what went wrong today in their country. Yet they are fiercely proud and sometimes greet each other by saying “Viva, Colombia!”

One thing that’s going right in this country is that they are very committed to lifelong learning. Riding through the suburbs of the capital, Bogot