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.

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