GCELE Kenya 2019 – 14 days – Lives Transformed.

GCELE Kenya (created by Silvio Santos, Kaitlyn Popert, Ukweli Wilson, Tommy Lu, Abdalla Ali, Abhishek Rajgor, Nicole Umana, Katherine Armstrong, Keisha Beattie, Vaaranan Jayakkumar, Brendan Chapman, Natashia Deer and Susan Chandy)

(We invite you to read, ponder and feel free to comment and share this blog with others. For more information on how you can be a change advocator or learn more about evolving in your understanding and opportunity as a Global Citizenship, please visit Centennial College Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion.)

We chose to construct this blog as a team where individuals shared daily reflections and in turn transformed 13 individual posts into one to share our experiences more holistically. Our hope is that not only will you glean insights from our experiences but also be challenged to support and use the privilege and influences that we have as individuals and a collective society to create meaningful and impactful change.

Kenya, a land of kindness. A place where wildlife and humans co-exist respectfully. A nation where the people are so vast and diverse yet celebrate their cooperative society by embodying what it means to make sure the past is honoured, the present is celebrated, and the future preserved. A land where the world should learn from ways that blend the advanced and the simple to create sustainable systems.

We were fortunate to have been allowed to attend as a group of 13 inspired and heart-directed representatives from across the college (ten students and 3 Faculty members) for ten days in Kenya through Centennial College and the visionary Global Citizenship office. A college where Global Citizenship and Social Justice is at the forefront of the academic experience and where donors come together selflessly to provide transformative experiences for the college community through different initiatives. A college where the focus is on offering the highest level of education but with a realization that learning the curriculum is only one essential aspect of creating change. Providing strategically crafted experiences guarantees that in our own way, assumptions can be broken down, divides solidified into a strong movement, minds shifted and the theoretical transformed into the applied.

These 14 days were an intense blend of collaborating with teachers and students at the Mitero primary school as well as sitting in the quiet strength and presence of a 90 plus year old Momma, whose mind is as alert as if she was still 15 years old and carries an immeasurable physical power and reminds us that storytelling is a conduit to understanding the past and how it impacts the future. Nightly reflections under an uncountable amount of stars and constellations break down our assumptions, perceptions’ and stereotypes while educating and challenging our learning under the limitless sky around the bonfire. Experiences that remind us that privilege is fluid and it is what we do with our privilege that is most relevant and influential. The honour of listening and breathing in the stories, challenges and vision of two different Woman’s Camps that work from a ground roots effort to create actual change and understanding and a 5-hour walk into the beauty and vulnerability of the Ngare Ndare Endangered forest/conversancy. 14 days is not enough for us to create massive change no matter how hard we contributed through our collaboration – in fact, it is a gift that is given to us to learn and grow a seed in our minds.

We heard a perfect quote from one of the managers at a Nursery where they grow exotic and indigenous plants, trees and flowers that they will sell to the community to create future growth. A place where if you buy 10 plants/flowers/trees – they will automatically plant 10 more for free. WHY? It’s a selfless, practical and visionary way to provide value and continuous rebirth to the community, earth and the future.

This gentleman said, ‘planting is not the key to true life; growth is.’ What he reminded us was that if we want to see permanent change – we cannot ‘plant’ something and walk away. We need to grow it – through unconditional love, intelligence, commitment, hard work, curiosity, kindness, attention and respect. This trip has done this. The long-term results of the growth will be determined through each of the individuals that were selected to be part of this experience. However; we feel confident that change has happened and like a butterfly, the transformation will be stunningly convincing.

 

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In the words of the students….

April 29, 2019 (Reflection #1) Silvio Santos

Our first full day! We went to the elephant orphanage in the morning and could see an organization involved in taking care of and preparing baby elephants to go back to nature. We saw them having milk with a gigantic baby bottle, eating trees branches and even touch them before heading to our first camp on the border of Ol Pejata Conservancy.

April 29, 2019, Kaitlyn Popert (Reflection #2) (Program – Social Service Worker Diploma Program)

We started our first full day in Kenya with a trip to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage just outside of Nairobi. This was by far one of the best experiences for me since it has always been a dream of mine to experience the endless energy and joy that baby elephants offer. Everything we experienced after this was just a bonus. My favourite part about this day was hearing the journey these orphaned elephants have gone through, from being rescued to rehabilitation and being released back into the wild. The dedication and love the caretakers provided was reflected in the way the elephants engaged with them and the visitors. I would visit this amazing place again and again.

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April 30, 2019 – Ukweli Wilson Reflection #1 (Program – Bachelors of Public Relations Management)

The Art of Perseverance

I really am so grateful at this moment. Firstly, I’ll start by saying that God really does have a sense of humour. A couple weeks ago, I remember specifically praying and asking to be more efficient when completing tasks and just generally getting into the habit of persevering through difficult circumstances; too many times I find myself being intimidated by daunting situations which often results in me giving up. Added to this however is my general contempt towards physical activities and pursuits which I view as more of a mental challenge than the physical one at hand- more often than not, I give up mentally before even attempting, and this too was something I wanted to work on personally.

Today was our first official day of work at Mitero Primary School. Initially, we thought the school was about a 5-minute walk from our camp, but it turned out that it was actually a different school we’d be going to that this one was about a 45-minute walk away! Needless to say, my first morning going to school was a challenge! (I would also learn to appreciate and welcome that word “challenge” more as the trip progressed.) The walk to the school could be defined by two main factors; extreme heat and length. Some parts of the journey saved us by providing shady forestry which allowed for us to cool down, just before embarking on another set of equator-temperature sun. With this being our first time making this trek, it definitely seemed more challenging- we were unsure of our exact destination and had no clear end in sight. But on we went- and what a treat was in store for our day ahead!

Upon our arrival at the school, the student’s break time came soon after. When the students saw us in the courtyard, the whole school came running out of class and towards us, swarming all around. It really was quite a moment. One little girl in particular by the name of Ann stuck by my side for the entire break. Playing with the students of Mitero after completing a very challenging walk for me was the icing on the cake. The day in itself provided so many personal victories. Even though I initially felt very overwhelmed by the day, having accomplished those few challenges gave me a feeling of hope which I took with me throughout the remainder of the trip. Would you believe I woke up the next day looking forward to the walk, and believe it or not, I gained new perspectives of the scenery and land we crossed with each journey I took?

Whenever faced with a difficulty or challenge now, I first ensure that my mentality is positive. With that, persevering through anything comes so much more easily! I’m thankful for that very challenging day which preceded and set the tone for the rest our time in Kenya. What an experience!

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May 1st, 2019 – Tommy Lu (Program – Bachelor of Science in Nursing Collaborative Nursing Degree.

 It is only the third day in Kenya and I can already say this trip is something I will treasure and cherish in my heart. May 1st is our second day with Mitero primary school however it is also Labour Day in Kenya, meaning no classes. Despite the fact that there was no school, we still had the delightful experience of playing with a few students that decided to come along! What surprised me the most was the fact that Samuel, the father of two of the students, took time out of his day to come help and talk with us. His work habits and dedication is truly an inspiration to many who had the pleasure of being able to interact with him.

During our discussion with the teachers of Mitero, they talked about how parents are usually supportive of their children going to school however their impact on the school remains neutral. Samuel, however, is an excellent example of a positive contribution to Mitero. All the work he does for the school is unpaid for, meaning he is offering his time in order to give the students of Mitero a better environment for education. He is someone who truly believes that education is important and acknowledges that it is crucial for children to be educated and pursue a future that differs from that of the traditional lifestyle that many Kenyan children are still used to.

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May 2, 2019 – Abdalla Ali (Program – Truck and Coach Technician Diploma)

My day on the 2nd of May started off like no other, we had breakfast at the camp and headed to the school. What happened after lunch is what really got to me the most. While waiting for the meeting with the teachers, Natashia and I decided to go into a classroom which had no teacher after the students insisted that we come in and do something with them. The school had a limited number of teachers and that meant some classrooms had to wait for them to finish with others to get to them. While the students waited, they would take turns teaching the class on previous lessons. The students were very respectful, they stood up as we entered and greeted us with a welcome song and only sat down after we instructed them to do so. After some introductions, we started off with hangman and gave them easy words, but after a couple of the letters, they were already guessing big words. The level of intelligence they have was something that still amazes me, by the time we were doing harder words they were going through them like it was nothing. Their level of understanding and positive attitude towards learning is something that stood out to me. After the games, the students kept asking us questions and just wanted to learn more about us and where we came from. Their curiosity and hunger for knowledge reminded me of myself and how I always go out of my way to learn new things about my profession and personal interests. The students taught me to value the knowledge I have and never take for granted the resources I have access to here in Canada.

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May 3, 2019 – Vaaranan Jayakkumar (Program – ELECTRO-MECHANICAL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY – AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS)

Thank you Centennial College for this great experience.

So as today was our last day with the Mitero Kids, we were all ready to finish the last little bit of work there needs to be done. We had prepared a little song for the kids so they can sing along with us, and they shared their talents with us! We prepared the interactive Little Shark Song for them, which we ourselves enjoyed practicing. So as we reached the school we drank some water and continued to our designated work. As part of our project, our goal was to plant 100 trees and we were only a few behind. Five of us continued to plant trees and today as we had more people we were able to dig more holes for the plants compared to the past few days. It was such an amazing experience planting trees and watering it once it’s done. The rest of our group continued with wall paintings (the talking walls on the outside of the school and educational pictures in the Kindergarten classroom.)

At the end of their school teacher and students welcomed is to the open around and they asked us to sit on the ground for some performance. Students from grade 7 started to dance and sing some songs for us. We all enjoyed every bit of it. And then Joyce (our amazing guide and partner from Rift Valley Adventures) went up and asked some academic questions and handed out prizes to the kids who answered it right following which came our part of the performance. We all gathered up at the front and started singing. The kids started to laugh and clap as the song was sung by our team. We improvised on the song a little bit and called in the school teachers to join is on the performance. In the end, we asked all the kids to join and it went so well and the happy part was, the kids loved the song. We all took a final pic together with all the students and teachers and our Centennial Team. It was a pleasure working and meeting the students. 🙂  It was such a nice and great learning experience for us and I was glad to be part of it.

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May 4, 2019 – Reflection #1 Abhishek Rajgor (Program – Construction Management)

After 4 days of overwhelming and beautiful experiences at the School, we had mixed feelings in terms of exploring newer activities of GCELE but also for not being able to be with the school kids. So the 7th day began with a relaxed morning schedule (which meant more sleep J), we were excited to explore the town of Nanyuki as it was our first instance of experiencing an urban environment in Kenya other than camp and the village we were at. The town was vivid in its own ways – from the colourful buildings to the sweet chaos of the marketplace, the town had everything to offer for a visual delight.

We strolled through the streets of the busiest areas of Nanyuki and were welcomed by locals at every corner with wide smiles & offering to visit their shops or stores.

It was indeed interesting to see how extremely contrasting lives of people exist so closely in the town of Nanyuki which boasts almost all urban facilities and the small village of Mitero which struggles to get electricity on most days.

May 4, 2019 – Reflection #2 – The Wisdom of a Mama   

Today was a blend of the past, with a step into the future. Before heading into the urban town of Nanyuki, we walked to a nearby farm and was privileged to sit and listen in the presence of a 90 plus-year-old Mama. Her stories recounted experiences and lessons from her youth to the present day while she freely shared her wisdom and insights. Her small physical stature was overwhelmed by her quiet strength, eyes that have experienced many lessons and her joy and faith that she endeavours to pass on to future generations.

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May-5: Silvio Santos (Program – Program Management, Post-Graduate)

Safari day in Ol Pejeta. Time to see the animals in the reserve while having a lot of patience and maybe luck. First animals to be seen was the impalas that were closed to some buffalos. Wild pigs with its big two teeth running, stopping eating grass, looking at the bus, running and stopping and so on. This animal had a short memory, it’s funny to observe it. Two charcoal were looking for eggs in a bird’s nest on the ground. Zebras with its unique stripes all over the body.

The reserve integrates agriculture with wildlife, there were around 40 cows with huge horns, a characteristic of Uganda cow type. I’m the night they are kept in a big cage so that they can be protected against lions. Cattle stays in the cage and will only go to eat grass in the reserve when they grow up enough to run away from lions. Lions usually don’t attack cows during the day because they prefer to avoid humans.

A family of three white rhinos (male, female and child) were spotted drinking water and defining territory by pooping. The reserve mission is to protect black rhinos and they’re doing a good job so far since in the 2000s the number of rhinos was 450 and nowadays is around 700. Poachers want the horns that are sold with a gram price higher than gold. It was believed that rhino horn powder would increase sexual performance, but nowadays it has been scientifically proofed it’s is a big mistake.

After lunch, we spotted a tower of giraffes when a ranger approached and told our bus driver the place where we could find two cheetahs. They were sleeping, but woke up, stared at us and slept again.

The day was fantastic so far, but it became perfect after we found a lioness and a lion – this closed our day with four of the five big animals. We couldn’t see Leopards (as they are not native to the conservancy) but it was great anyway.

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May 6 – 7, 2019 Nicole Umana – Project Management – Post Graduate Certificate

May 6th – Twala Maasai Village

By this point of the trip, we were already in the second half. We travelled for the most part of the day. Somewhere around 1 pm, we stopped to have lunch in the middle of what I called nowhere (probably somewhere for someone who knows the area) and ate lunch with the most amazing view.

We arrived at Twala, a space owned and managed by women of the Maasai Tribe. For the next two days, we were given the opportunity to camp there in order to learn more of how these women have grown as part of their tribe and the difficulties they have had to overcome to be respected as a part of a male dominant society.

For the rest of the day, we set up our tents, made dinner and reflected around the fire on life and career plans, which led us to a discussion about hard work, passion and the importance of self-thrive to succeed in life, no matter where you come from.

FUN FACT: In Africa, wildlife runs the business, so we had to fix our schedule for tomorrow because it seems like the elephants are hanging a little too close to the camp, making it unsafe for us to go start early in the morning for activities. In the city, how many times have you been late because of elephants?

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May 7th – Rosemary 

We woke up early and met Rosemary, the woman who started this community of woman. She told us a little bit about the start of the community and how the group has grown from 10 acres and 60 women up to 40 acres and 203 women currently.

This full day was about learning how Maasai women go on with their responsibilities.

We had the opportunity to fetch water as they do daily. They dig a big hole on the ground under they find clear water, put into a container and carry it with their heads, backs and the help of a cord. Each container weighs about 40-50 pounds (according to our estimates) and they usually have to carry them for very long distances to get some water to their houses. When we tried to do it, we carried the containers for less than 1 km and ended up exhausted. This was an eye-opening experience on how usually we take for granted the ease with which we have access to some resources.

Later on, Rosemary showed us around the land where they have developed different activities, that have turned them into the major economic support for their families. This is incredibly important because it has empowered women all over the community and it has helped the fight against previous traditions of the tribe such as female mutilation and arranged marriages. Nowadays girls get to decide who they want to marry, which is completely amazing.

Finally, my favourite part of the day was when we had the chance to sing and dance with the women. They have such great spirits, they are warriors and they have accomplished so much by working together, that songs and dances seemed like the perfect way to close a day that filled me with awe and admiration of how powerful we can be when we decide to work together.

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May 8, 2019 – Katherine Armstrong (Program – Child and Youth Care)

Today began at the Maasai women’s community and was our last morning with them. We packed our bags and tents, shared our final breakfast with Rosemary and Cecilia, and thanked them for sharing their space and stories with us. We then headed out for our drive to the next camp, which was approx. a 2.5-hour drive. These long drives usually consisted of card games, music, and LOTS of jokes. Thankfully we had a few stops along the way – our first stop was at Cedar Mall, somewhere we stopped often for a bathroom break and some Java Coffee House milkshakes. Our second stop was to another Maasai village, which was where one of our guides, Francis, was from. We were welcomed with songs and dances and had the opportunity to ask the women questions. They’ve been a community for 3 years and were so kind to us – they even prepared lunch for us, consisting of rice, lentils, and cooked goat. For many of us, it was the first time we’d ever tried goat – literally, every day is a new experience. They took us around their community for a tour, where we saw how they prepare food and sterilize horns used to store milk. After that, we got on our way and left the village towards our final destination, which was only a short 30 min drive.

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May 9, 2019, Keisha Beattie (Program – Broadcasting for Film, Television, Digital Media, and Radio)

I cannot believe that we had to say goodbye to the place where we called home for two weeks. We began our day with a bushcraft lesson from Francis. To be honest, before today, I had never heard of the term bushcraft ever in my life. We essentially went into the bush with Francis and he taught us survival skills that the Maasai warriors use. The highlight of this bushcraft experience was learning how to start a fire using cow poop! The hardest part of the day came upon us where we had to say goodbye to everyone who we met at Rift Valley Adventures – Joyce, Francis, Dorito, Omari, Ritchie, and everyone else who was so gracious to us. Goodbyes are tough. Especially to those who have made such an impact on your life. I think what I’ll take away most from this whole experience is, the fact that everyone who we came across was just so kind and warm-hearted to all of us. The people who live in Kenya may have it tough, but not once did we ever come across anyone who was unaccepting to us. Everyone wanted to share their stories with us and ensure we had the best experience we possibly could. I’ll always remember this trip and the people of Kenya. I will return back to Toronto with a heart that’s so full of love and appreciation.

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We thank you for taking the time to read our blog and hope that it has inspired and entertained you! Wherever you may travel, may you be inspired to use your privilege, influence and joy to create positive and collaborative change through every encounter, in each moment.

With heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Centennial College, the Global Citizenship and SAGE teams, the donors and to Joyce and Rift Valley Adventures (our partner in Kenya) for memories and experiences that will impact for a lifetime.

GCELE Kenya Team 2019

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Sorrow Can Make Way for Triumph

Written by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba:

I used to tell stories through dance. Each leap, twist, and turn held great emotion. I shared secrets through dance. I told of my sorrow and I told of my joy.

My dance journey began in my grandmother’s house in Zimbabwe circa 2003 when the vibrant sounds of Africa led me to move in jubilance. I instinctively loved to dance. When I encountered YouTube and its dance tutorials at the age of 10 I began to learn what seemed to come naturally. I leapt and twirled throughout my living room until I began to make sense of rhythm and my body and melody became one.

It wasn’t shocking when I chose to attend an art focused secondary school to pursue dance. I felt at home on the dance floor, at home in my bodysuit and dance shoes.

One fateful day marked the end of my dance career. It was not an ominous or eerie day. I certainly couldn’t have guessed what was to come. Like most days when tragedy occurs, it was normal, filled with the normal activities of a high school student. Pain has a way of screaming into normalcy.

I sauntered into my dance class, changed into my leotard and took to the stage. I leapt into the air as I performed a “grand jete” (a jump in which a dancer springs from one foot to land on the other with one leg forward and the other stretched backward while in the air).  I expected to land square on both feet. I did not. My knee dislocated mid-air and I fell with a thunder to the floor (on my knee I might add). That fateful day likely changed the course of my life.

The months that followed included ugly knee brace wearing, intensive physical therapy, and the warning from a doctor to seize dancing. “You have a condition in which your knees dislocate,” a doctor told me.

“You’ll be in a wheel chair by the time you are 40 if you do not stop dance training now.”

I did not want to obey that instruction, yet in tears, I did.

I dropped dance and began to pursue visual storytelling.

It’s sad isn’t it? Don’t you like I do, wonder what I might have been as a dancer had I continued?

Sorrow can make way for triumph if we allow it.

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Fadzaiishe Living Her Best Life in New York

 

 

I began to focus on other interests I’d seemingly ignored; writing, photography, film, visual arts. I excelled in these art forms and these art forms led me to journalism, namely multimedia storytelling. Multimedia storytelling led me to an opportunity to document a New York dance FLIP. I travelled with 16 dedicated Story Arts Centre dance performance students. I observed as they danced with passion. I journeyed to notable dance studios like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I’d only dreamt of such things.

It feels like my story turned full circle doesn’t it?

52674291_624654731307424_8033515028978073600_oToday, I still tell stories. Through poetry, prose, photography, and video, I tell stories brimming with truth and emotion. I share secrets through storytelling. I not only tell of my own sorrow and joy, but that of others.

 

 

Before and After: A New York City Heart Makeover

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Captured by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba

Written by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba:

Few dance performers are granted the opportunity to leap through New York, to dance to the melodies of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Steps on Broadway, and the Broadway Dance Center. There are few whose feet greet the streets of what is known to be dance central, New York City (NYC).

It is quite understandable that 16 graduating Story Arts Centre dance performance students embraced the opportunity to travel to NYC on a dance expedition with great excitement.

52596126_624639091308988_3429045229917831168_oOn the morning of Feb. 19, Ashley Cole-Daley, 19, Tameka Hendricks, 19, and Sydney Usselman 19, arrived at the Story Arts Centre in the wee hours of the day, around 5 a.m. to be exact. They anxiously loaded bags laden with enough dance clothing for four days on a giant Great Canadian Coach bus as they considered the 12-hour journey ahead. Much of it would be spent sleeping. While awake, they spoke of the anticipation and zeal for the trip.

“I’ve never been outside of Canada,” said Cole-Daley.

“(I’ve been) on Google a lot. (I have been searching), ‘What can I bring? What is New York? What are the people like? Is it like Toronto?’”

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Ashley Cole-Daley Captured by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba

Cole-Daley who started to dance at the age of eight after attending a Caribbean dance event was most excited to experience the dance culture in a different city. She was particularly eager to participate in the Hush Hip Hop Tour, a tour of New York as the birthplace of Hip Hop hosted by the Museum of the City of New York.

 

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Tameka Hendricks Captured by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba

Likewise, Hendricks who began to dance at the age of six and is well versed in many forms of dance looked forward to the activities planned on the itinerary.

“I’m excited to see the dance scene and the Broadway shows. I’m (also) excited to learn about Alvin Ailey because we get to see that studio,” she said.

Usselman, who participated in the trip the previous year as a first year student offered a distinct perspective.

“I think an overall group bond will be different,” Usselman said.

“This year, with everyone together, it’s going to be a full group experience.”

At the end of the trip, as dancers sauntered onto the bus, bodies aching from three days of rigorous dance training, their experiences equaled their initial thoughts about the trip.

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Sydney Usselman Captured by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba

Usselman’s love for NYC was reignited.
“I love the hustle and bustle of NYC, how crazy it is all the time. Everyone’s always just kind of running around. Everyone has a purpose and it’s really cool to see,” said Usselman.

Hendricks enjoyed the extraordinary dance training she received in NYC.

“I have never really done anything like this; the drop-in classes in another country. I felt like it was such a good experience. And I feel like it made me work even harder,” said Hendricks.

Cole-Daley who captured an impressive 629 photographs throughout the trip appreciated the opportunities she believes the trip unearthed for her and other students.

“New York being one of the cities with a huge dance scene, I think that’s great for dancers because they can see what they have outside of their hometown. I’m very grateful that I had this opportunity to travel to New York and experience dance here,” she said.

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New York View Captured by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba

 

 

 

Rapar – India, a spiritual retreat to improve me as a human being

How I obtained a positive decision for my trip to India it’s a mystery. For my surprise, after submitting the application, I received an email with an invitation for an interview, I went and gave my best but and after a few days, received a negative answer… They didn’t select me.

Rapar, India
Wearing classic Gujarati dresses

However, many weeks later a new email turned up, it was a new invitation to join the group! I was astonished as it wasn’t in my mind to travel abroad. It took me a few days to re-think the invitation and organize all my school work and personal responsibilities to take a final decision and join the journey.

 

Without any doubt, the trip was a great experience that helped me to improve myself as a global citizen and be more human. I practiced empathy and compassion every single day of the trip.

What did I expect?

I went to India without any assumptions, only the idea that I was going to give a hand in the construction of sustainable houses and see how people live there, but that was just a tiny part of all I have experienced and learnt.

The objective of this trip was to know more about the situation in Rapar, India, a small village in the state of Gujarat, also support the Institute for Social Action and Research (ISAR).
This Institute helps women in vulnerable situations, many of them due to problems related to SATA marriage (a system of exchange marriage) or simply because of their gender.

Life Stories

While in Canada we still dealing with some gender issues, in India be a woman, gay, lesbian or queer is a synonym of minority and inequality. This sad situation brought me to the point that sometimes we need to look beyond and support those in need on time because this can affect generation after generation.

During our stay, we had the chance to know and talk to a few women that suffered from violence, their stories impacted us a lot, It wasn’t easy to digest. However, thanks to the hard work of ISAR, now those women are empowered and ready to help their community.
It’s exciting to hear stories of bravery and courage, listened to them with opened hearts motivated and made us realize how cruel and unfair a human can be when moral and ethics are not part of our life, no matter where you live.

What we did

We have visited villages, schools and some touristic places to know more about the history of Gujarat. To know more about the reasons for the current status in India, we also had the opportunity to follow a few lessons about Sociology, Feminism and Economy with excellent teachers that I hope I can see again.

 

A fantastic experience

We made friends with locals who made us laugh and helped us with everything. I have no words to explain how they treated us, how much we laugh and cry together.
India wasn’t a school trip, was more than that, was a spiritual retreat which pumped up our souls and allowed us to be aware of the necessity of this world; Love and compassion.

Thanks to ISAR and Centennial College, I re-confirmed the following quote:

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.

My Peruvian Experience: Culturally Enriching and Personally Fulfilling

By Cindy Tieu (Peru: February 21, 2019 – March 3, 2019)

A map of the regions we stayed at: Illimo and Chiclayo in Lambayeque, and the Lima District

I spent my reading week travelling with ten students and two faculty members to and from Peru as part of Centennial College’s Faculty Lead International Program (FLIP). In summary, we spent 1.5 days in the capital – Lima, and 7 days in their fourth largest city – Chiclayo (located in the Lambayeque region of Peru). During the week (Monday-Friday), we would commute an hour from Chiclayo to Illimo where we worked at the Instituto de Educaciόn Superior Technolόgico Publico (IESTP), providing our recommendations for their pilot plant. Our week was very busy, with an industrial site visit each morning, followed by working on the pilot plant in the afternoon up until and sometimes after dinner as well. We wanted to ensure that we provided our Peruvian partners with the best quality recommendations we could to strengthen their path to success.

Ministry of Education & Impact of Centennial College


At the Ministry of Education on our very first day in Lima.
Photo by: Thanh Sang Huynh

On our first day in Lima, we visited the Ministry of Education and shared our views on the importance of education and hands on experience. This meeting was an eyeopener, hearing from the ministry representatives how important education is for the students to give them hope for a better life. We also heard about the impact of Centennial College’s involvement with CiCAN (Colleges and Institutes of Canada). The goal of the partnership is to help strengthen technical skills and training in the food industry for students in Illimo, Lambayeque, to help prepare the students for employment.

In Lambayeque, we also had the opportunity to meet with the regional government. We acted as support to our Peruvian partners to gain funding and prioritize education for the students in Illimo. A press release of the meeting can be found here: https://www.regionlambayeque.gob.pe/web/noticia/detalle/26831?pass=Mg==

Peruvian Culture & Food

Anytime we had the opportunity to interact with someone in Peru, they always asked if we enjoyed their food. The answer was an obvious yes! In preparation for the trip, I had a list of foods I wanted to try with anticucho (beef heart) and ceviche (cured raw fish) being at the top. Lima, Chiclayo, and Illimo did not disappoint. I especially loved the home cooked feel of the dishes from Chiclayo and Illimo, with almost all dishes in some form of saltado (stir fry), like lomo saltado or polo saltado. The second thing the Peruvians are very proud of is Chiclayo known as the City of Friendship. This was very evident with all the Peruvians we interacted with. Even with a significant language barrier, everyone was very welcoming to us during our stay. Our Peruvian partners spent every moment with us from our very first day in Chiclayo up until we passed security at the airport to leave Chiclayo. They stayed with us during dinners and took us to industrial visits, museums, and as much site seeing as we could squeeze into our busy schedules. They made sure that our trip was not only filled with lots of work, but enjoyable and culturally enriching.

Industrial Site Visits

In total, we visited five industrial sites in Lambayeque: Guinea Pig Farm, Animal Feed Production Facility, Banana Plantation, Bee Apiary, and Gandules International. I learned about:

  • the challenges of breeding guinea pig in hot climates and the different characteristics of different breeds
  • the variety of animal feeds one small scale facility can produce
  • Peruvians wanting to expand the banana market in Peru to have a sustainable business both internationally and nationally
  • the value of the Queen Bee (in monetary value and its role in the colony)
  • the functionality of a larger scale production facility for international exports of peppers and mangos

IESTP Work & Students

Prior to our departure, our group had been working very hard to research and compile documents to be applied to a dairy production facility in Illimo. Our goal was to work on the Pre-Requisite Plans, specifically the Premises, Receiving & Storage, Equipment, Personnel, Sanitation & Pest Control, and Recall System. This is something we study extensively in our Food Safety Management class in our final semester of the Food Science Technology Program. We were divided into groups to further become expertise on butter, yogurt, and cheese, something we studied in our Food Processing and Technology classes taken in Semester 4 and 5.

Once we arrived at the IESTP, we got to see the beginning stages of the pilot plant and the equipment to be used for the production of butter, yogurt, cheese, and the addition of jam. The structure of the building is there, but there is much more construction to be done before it is ready for production. Over the course of four days, we worked as a group to provide our recommendations and technical background on the production facility, procedures and training to be done, and processing of each product to ensure food safety and quality. We did not have access to internet at the facility and had a very poor connection back at the hotel, so we heavily relied on our knowledge and each other as a team to provide quality content for our Peruvian partners. We wrote SOPs and SSOPs, designed product flow charts and diagrams, developed a traceability program, and provided general recommendations on premises, sanitation, pest control, and GMPs training. The pilot plant will not only be able to produce product for local sales, but to also serve as a teaching facility for the students enrolled at the IESTP to further prepare them for the workforce.

The highlight of my trip was interacting with the students there, and learning about the impact of our visit and the values and hard work of each student. We had the opportunity to speak with the students who took off a day of work to welcome us at the institute. Most of the students are young, but they hold much more experience in the agricultural field than I do as a Food Scientist working in the industry at present. They’ve spent their entire lives working in the field, and their passion can be seen through their commitment to education and the industry. Although there was a language barrier, I could feel the appreciation and the excitement the students had for us being there – something that we hopefully conveyed on our end as well. We were hearing about the impact Centennial College has and will continue to make for our Peruvian partners, but it wasn’t until this point that I truly felt humbled because the students and the professors at the IESTP made an impact on me, bringing value to this trip. I feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity to share and to learn, realizing that language barrier is nothing compared to our shared passion in the food industry which crosses cultures and countries.

FLIP PERU-2019: Once in a lifetime experience

Hello everyone,

My Peruvian journey started with a cover letter, resume and interview and ended with international culture, friends for life, work experience, fun with mentors and a lifelong memorable learning experience.

Initially, I was really anxious about the journey, due to multiple reasons like food, since I being a vegetarian, whether I would be able to fulfill the work for which I was selected and most importantly travelling and living with people I rarely interacted during my time at Centennial College. My first memorable experience was the visit to Ministry of Education, Peru. I was really touched by the words of one of ministers, “studying in this college would be last chance for students to get over their current situation and become a better educated qualified individual”. Hence, I made sure that I make full use of this opportunity by contributing to this mission during the time in Peru. At IESTP, Peru I got to know some really motivated, excited students with a strong learning desire and willing to contribute in making society better. Likewise, the professors and college staff at IESTP, Peru greeted us warmly and kindly with open hearts while our time in Peru.

However, as the time passed, I experienced a lot many things including the visit to Apiary, Guinea Pig farm, Banana plantation and an industrial visit to Gandules Inc. Apart from this, I experienced the local Peruvian culture by a visit to museums, a jungle safari and visit to rock and sand beach, local handicrafts shops. All this combined with really tasted ethnic Peruvian food and drinks: I still remember the Chicha.

During the entire journey from boarding the departure plane to Peru and back to Toronto, it was a mix and complex amalgamation of feelings which can’t be described in words. I experienced and understood the people around me, carried with me both tangible and non-tangible skills and tried understanding the world from a different view altogether.

My deepest thank to SAGE, FLIP, Centennial College and two most important persons: Steve and Professor Xavier. I thank Centennial College once again for giving me an opportunity to represent centennial college as a college ambassador.

Thanking you,

Bhupesh Chandra Tiwari

Puerto Plata and Community Based Tourism

By Sara Archambault

Being given the opportunity to travel thousands of kilometres away with 11 of my classmates and 2 of my instructors to the beautiful Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic was a once in a lifetime experience. It was humbling and eye-opening to the way in which other people live in different places. The first thing I noticed was the people and how friendly and kind they were to us, regardless of what they may be experiencing and that caused me to feel a great appreciation for my life back in Canada. I was flooded with emotions and a renewal of energy for change. I was finally able to look through the community development lens in real life situations while I endured this experience and I was able to relate it back to the community economic development principles.

Fort San Felipe in Puerto Plata

Some of the community-based tourism excursions that we were able to participate in was a cable car ride, a visit to Fort San Felipe with a monument to General Gregorio LuPeron, Sosua Beach, a hike to Los Charcos, an amber mine, a week stay at Tubagua Eco lodge, and the Pedro Garcia coffee village. These experiences were full of breathtaking views and once in a lifetime experiences, it also highlights many of what Puerto Plata has to offer to tourists. These experiences relate to the principles of community economic development because of the use of locally produced goods such as food products or handmade souvenirs. It also displays the local skill development of the community members by utilizing their skills, knowledge, and social capital to create income. I feel that community-based tourism is essential in getting money back into the economy of Puerto Plata because it does not see as many tourists as other communities, and it also gets tourists off of resorts and into local communities. CBT is a great way to bring back those tourists and for them to see what Puerto Plata has to offer and hopefully with the recent revitalization in tourism, their economy can get the kick-start that it needs

– Cultivate the habit of being grateful-

View from the cable car ride in San 
Felipede De Puerto Plata 
The view from the Tubagua Ecolodge Puerto Plata


Sosua Beach in Puerto Plata

My Flip Trip Experience in Puerto Plata

Written By: Abena Martin

To begin with, it’s hard to put into words the way I feel while experiencing the flip trip in the Dominican Republic. However, overall this experience has been such a delight as well as life-changing. This was a wonderful and a great way of viewing and identifying the different communities of Puerto Plata. During this flip trip, I was able to explore a few communities as well as experience some of the extraordinary excursion Puerto Plata has to offer. For instance, some of these tourist sites entailed the cable car ride, 27 waterfalls, Amber Cove, hiking trip down the mountain, attending Sosua beach, viewing the military fort, God’s pool (Waterfalls), as well as giving the chance to pour a concrete floor for the UNPC office among other great things. Furthermore, I was giving the chance to explore life on a whole other level. I got the chance to view a different part of the world that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see up close in personal.

Moreover, getting a better understanding of life and having a better understanding of new-comers. Honestly, the thing that impressed me most, I would have to say was visiting the neighborhood of Neuvo Renacer and seeing some community member’s drive and in order to see and make a difference. For one thing, there was a community member name (Sandra) who was also known as the Mother Theresa, who was the community advocate, pastor, as well as other major roles she has played. Puerto Plata is a beautiful island with such richness of culture, during my stay in this great place I have come to realize the essence of how gifted this island truly is. Overall, this trip was a memorable experience with such overflowing knowledge to gain as well as looking at community structures in a different lens. I feel ecstatic to have been giving the chance to go on an excursion such as this standard. Besides, I was participating, gaining knowledge, as well as memories.

Therefore, this experience had made me be humble and understanding, and opened in allowing new advantages to not scare me rather than enlighten me. My heart is still smiling with such gratitude, this flip trip is like a gift that I will always cherish and hold close to my heart. I would recommend that students get involved with this great opportunity and challenge themselves to do something incredible that otherwise they wouldn’t have done. When individuals take a vacation, they usually sit on the resorts not really giving the chance to go view the area where they are residing at, in an up-close and personal manner.

República Dominicana

Insight on Community-Based Tourism

By David Cavalier

March 6, 2019

Eight days from snow fall to sunshine, from city life to country-side life, from heated showers to to cold showers, from waking up to noisy cars, bus and trains to waking up to melodic birds, dogs and roosters. Why am I speaking about this transition, what could be so interesting about this blog. Lets continue reading and we will find out. Lets expand on a life changing, career gearing and community economic understanding experience. This was sponsored by Sage and Centennial College for Community Development students who are taking the course Community Economic Development.

“The What!!!”

  • Hands On experiences of successful, progressive, and unsuccessful Community-Based Tourism.
  • Community Economic Development
  • Identifying Community Economic Development Principles throughout experiences

Journey Just Starting to Puerto Plata

One Stop Please!!! To Puerto Plata

Our arrival was very warm and welcoming. Many of my classmates have never been to a tropical island so their expressions were so assuming and innocent. I really appreciated being back in the tropics being a tropical islander myself #JamaicanForever

“The Gut!!!”

Most days I woke up feeling thanking, feeling fit and ready for whatever activity we had planned for that day. Its was exciting learning but my true excitement came from learning with my peers. My classmates are one big drama and I love them, especially my wonderful teachers. I was impressed by the many ways community tourism could flourish and even compete against big multinational corporations tourism. Even incorporating or bonding with cruise ships in order to give tourist a real cultural experience while also re-channeling their spending directly into the communities and the country.

“So What!!!”

I assumed that local communities had nothing to do with Economic Development and that this was solely Government issues and Foreign Investors. I assumed that a community played no part in Tourism also and that the more an hotel had to offer the better the visitors experience. I was so WRONG.

We drove around parts of the island where we did some money exchange, engaged in very insightful teaching and sharing of history by our dear friend and tour guide, and of course some sightseeing. We then stopped at the Fortress of San Felipe where we listened to more historical teachings and took some of the most beautiful pictures, thus far at least. We then made our way to Cable Car Puerto Plata. Along with this journey as we waited for the cable car we stop and dance to some sweet cultural Merengue music that was being played in the lobby-like area by four locals. The vibe, the atmosphere, and the love were felt, and as we left, many of us gave financial donations in their donation bucket. After that experience, we encountered a magician at the front of the car stand.

To end our trip we visited the 27 Waterfalls (Los Charcos), due to the low water we only had access to a few falls instead of all of them. This is the most successful community-based tourism that we had the privileged to experience (had fun) and take notes on.

Our trip concluded with a night just as eventful as the day

  • Tired – NO
  • Hungry – NO
  • Bored – NO
  • Happy – YES

“Now what!!!”

I personally appreciated this trip, and all the experience. My understanding grew, my interest change, my perspective shifted, so much has happened. Sage! You made HUGE impact on this young man’s life. Centennial College! You made a HUGE impact on this young man’s life.

Beautiful

As a tourist I will be more mindful when visiting other countries and try to get the real cultural experience, invest my time and money into community based tourism. As a Community Development Worker I will encourage the true nature of Community Economic Development and apply all I have learn, seen and practiced in both theory and practical.