I am ecstatic to be writing about, my wonderful SIP trip to Urbania Italy, with Centennial College and Centro Studi Italiani. From the beginning to the end, everyone you met was eager to welcome you into their homeland and into their lives. From the directors of the school to the staff, our homestay host, and the locals, we were constantly surrounded by Italian hospitality and warmth. This immersion into the culture, allowed no time to miss or develop homesickness. Urbania became home. We now have a new family with our hosts, and made new friends that will last a lifetime. Creating this close bond, was not easy. However, a goal of mine was to be more accepting of situations and become more outgoing. This allowed me to benefit fully from all the experiences in front of me. This trip truly encouraged me to develop communication skills, that are invaluable in today’s job society. I am grateful to have participated in this program. All of my expectations were shattered, and I came back to Centennial College with a sweeter outlook on our world. Grazie mille Centennial College e Centro Studi Italiani !
by Thi Huyen Anh Nguyen
This year I want to celebrate CANADA’s 150th birthday in Cuba. I felt kindly honored to be selected to participate the project “ Cuba Food security” of Centennial in Cuba. This was an incredible experience to meet and work with a team, a community and a family in Cuba. I am thankful to Centennial College and Canada for giving me the opportunities to study, live, work and enjoy my life in Canada.
My trip to Cuba, Varadero was a trip of a lifetime! As I look back at this experience, I am incredibly grateful to Centennial College to have given me this opportunity. Before my departure to Cuba, I was very nervous but excited to be going to a country I’ve never been before. Although my GCELE group had a lot of meetings provided by our leaders to prepare us for this experience, it is completely different from when you are there. Arriving at the Juan Gomez airport in Varadero, I was already in love with Cuba, especially at how hot it was compared to Toronto. We took a school bus to where we were staying; Casa Del Carino, our home for the next ten days, it was beautiful place with an incredible view of the beach in the background.
On the second day, we visited two local farms. The first farm was a developing farm called Rosy farm the owners were a very loving couple and were generous to allow us to explore their land. The second farm was more developed with a lot of different crops and animals. An interesting part of this farm was the farmer had invented a solution without the use of chemicals called EM. This solution could be utilized for many things, but one thing that amazed me about it was he used it in his bunny cages, and there were no bad odours from the rabbit’s cages at all!
The Jardines Bellmar was the farm we worked on for the duration of our trip, and let me tell you it was a lot of hard work! Being in the hot sun, cutting down trees and weeds with machetes was something I’ve never done before. But for Roberto and Cusa the couple who own the farm, I give them a lot of credit to be able to do that every day and without so much help. Working on the farm, it made me reflect and take a look at how much effort and hard work goes into the food that is put on my plate every day.
Being in Cuba was a memorable experience for me. I was able to meet amazing, loving people, from Roberto and Cusa to the fabulous ladies who cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all of us every day to the grade eight students who worked with us on the farm. At times the media can portray Cuba in a negative way and before coming here, I had some of those negative images and stereotypes within me. But after ten days of being in Cuba, I honestly believe how the media portrays Cuba to be untrue. Although they may not be the richest people, they are rich with love, family, and culture and that is something that radiates in every single Cuban. Cuba is a beautiful place that I definitely plan on visiting again…. Viva Cuba!
Culture, Language and Appreciation
My first impression of Italy was how similar I felt the landscape was to my home in British Columbia. The lush rich colors of varying greens flashed from the trees and foliage which created a very organic feel. I felt like I was being welcomed to a country who was proud of their rich soil and I knew real food and culture was going to enjoyed here. Then I didn’t feel so far away from home.
The further away from the big city we went the quieter it became and the foliage became more intimate along the winding roads as the bus maneuvered us safely through the mountains. I arrived with the group in the world-renowned town of Urbania, Italy with a thought of food and rest….too be continued.