Neyaashiinigmiing

Learning experience

My experience in Neyaashinnigmiing was filled with opportunities to meet Natives and learn about the connection between what we know as sustainability and their common knowledge of protecting the land and water. I think there are a lot of misconceptions, and perhaps I held some of those stereotypes as well, that the traditions of the Native people are lost. What I have learnt is that if anything the traditions are thriving. Considering the system has been set out to make sure inequality, especially among the Natives, remains, it is a wonder that a community could be so resilient. I am a witness to the inequality, by learning about the issue of housing on the reserve, and I sat through a land claims hearing that is only meant to discredit the fact that the Natives of Canada were here before any of us. I have learnt how subtle inequality functions in our society. Inequality now perpetuates through technicalities. Regulations, financing, purchases all require written code and have loopholes due to the nature of our Treaty system. Natives can be swindled out of opportunity simply because the Canadian government does not want to address how to incorporate the Treaty system into our own established paradigm. Before anything can truly be done about inequality, acknowledging the root causes must be done first. I believe the root causes of the inequalities in our society stems very much from denial. Governments deny the history of when the inequalities in society really started to become disparaged. Even when it comes to addictions, mental illness, and homelessness in our society, recognition of individualized histories of how these members of society become vulnerable is ignored. There are a lot of assumptions in a society like as long as you have education, health care or employment, that is enough for you to sustain yourself. But it is not enough, humans go through stresses, which I think relates a lot to see the devastation in the world. Seeing nature being treated the way it is, feeling helpless to this, and feeling helpless when it comes to seeing wars, or famines in the world as well. Humans are living in an unsustainable world, and the call to action feels weak at times. But speaking on these issues and showing a counter-argument to what is seen as the cultural norm, can change minds and hearts when it comes to voting and making sustainable choices.

Staying on the reserve

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Staying in Neyaashinnigmiing, changed my outlook on Native communities from reading so much, to actually meeting the people that I did. When one of the Native fishermen was sharing his story, I was overwhelmed with tears. I had to step outside into the cold and felt the air like never before. I felt like I was suffocating when the cold air filled my lungs, it quickly stopped my tears. That is the power of storytelling, of sharing experiences. Face to face conversations moves the objective story away from the forefront and the true human emotions come forward. Understanding does not come from books only, it comes from our lived experiences. To truly believe in change, you must value what you know.

What we can do

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The key to sustainability is the individuals’ choices. By raising awareness, and questioning people’s core beliefs in what they hold to know to be true about the environment, about themselves, and about the interaction between oneself and nature. The Bagadiwaad-Alliance will continue to educate students, sowing seeds of knowledge throughout communities in Ontario. I have learnt too much now to not try to take that seed and let it grow throughout the Centennial College community. The biggest lesson I took from the global experience program is what pride means to me. Understanding pride also means understanding shame. I am proud to be Canadian and I am proud of how beautiful the land is here. I am also ashamed that my choices could potentially contribute to a climate and food crisis. Every choice I make can be as small as treading a needle to as large as being a leader in motivating others to make more sustainable choices. We are humans, we can make mistakes, but we can also make the choice to correct them as that is the power of free will. Every choice we make is an exchange with mother earth. Everything is matters from nature, from the concrete we walk on to the beautiful flowers we see. Mother earth can teach us as well as sustain us. If we listen with our minds, hearts, and intuition, we will protect future generations.

– Oriana Cardarelli-Goddard, GCELE

 

 

One Young World Summit 2016

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Last month around these days, I was planning to go on a trip of a lifetime. Centennial College provided me with the opportunity to go and feed my hunger to be part of global event, the universally acclaimed One Young World Summit founded by David Jones and Kate Robertson. The first summit was held in 2012 by the leadership and guidance of Former President of Ireland, Mary Robertson, and after that has been an active Counselor for all the summits. One Young World  is the preeminent global forum for leaders aged 18-30. The not-for-profit organization hosts an annual Summit with 1,300 delegates from all 196 countries; drawn from businesses, universities, NGOs and other forward thinking organizations. The delegates are joined by One Young World Counselors — global luminaries who support the network of young leaders in their ambitious projects for change. Kofi Annan, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton have attended previous One Young World Summits as Counselors.

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Opening Ceremonies

Being a One Young World Ambassador was no easy road for me, as being the lone representative for Centennial College required me to pass an interview which had all the potential candidates. Luckily and due to my good interview I was selected to represent my second home country Canada . I traveled to Ottawa through VIA train and reached the Hotel Delta on October 28th. Shortly after I reached my destination, the opening ceremony was held on the beautiful grounds of Parliament Hill.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Speaks

The opening ceremony started with an orchestra by a NGO, Orkidstra. Then, all the Counselors arrived on stage and were welcomed by David and Kate. Finally, came the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Then the day ended with beautiful flag ceremony and small keynotes by Counselors preparing us for what is next in three days.

Here is the link to the speech of our Prime Minister: https://www.facebook.com/JustinPJTrudeau/videos/10154700020940649/

The next day was full of plenary sessions, networking breaks and free Starbucks coffee! The three days focused on health, violent extremism, education, gender equality and economy. Amongst all these informative sessions, the things which left impressions on me are:

I learned that to change the world, we have to unite. As emerging leaders and the leaders of today in our communities, working alone is simply not an option.

1 – If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together
2015 Queen’s Young Leader award winner PJ Mandewa-Cole from Sierra Leone talked about his organization’s efforts in transforming the situation in the country and how by building a movement and leading people to join his mission really helped to super power his work.

2 – We need to bridge the gap between developing and developed nations

Listening to the way Mohammed Yunus has used social entrepreneurship and micro finance to transform livelihoods into sustainable entrepreneurship across Bangladesh inspired me. Developing parts of the world can adopt practices from other regions and the infrastructure and thought leaders from developed parts of the world can play a key part in injecting the inspiration, governance and leadership to help effectively build capacity on a global scale. We need cross-fertilization of ideas and talent between all corners of the world if we really want to unlock the key to equality in both participation of various groups and in economic development and opportunity creation.

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Internal Breakout Session

3 – Cross-cutting partnerships are the way forward                                                        

Every sector, every country, every leader, has a piece of knowledge and experience which could be useful. I learned from breakout sessions at the conference that economic opportunities could be created for young people through effective collaborations between corporate foundations donating their employees’ time along with effective microfinance schemes, government backing and local leaders promoting opportunities. Who will be the leaders, the glue, the nucleus which joins such initiatives and leadership together to achieve systemic, sustainable social change? We need to think deeply about strategic, cross sector partnerships. In the UK for example, Youth Business International who I work for, work with governments, local agencies, donors and corporates in order to build youth entrepreneurship programmes across the world creating businesses and employment opportunities for young people.

I hope my thoughts and reflections are useful and give some ideas about achieving social change in innovative ways in your community. I will certainly be sharing further insight in future posts and look forward to your comments.

Amongst all these I came across so many young, successful people working hard to change their lives and ultimately change this planet. Made many friends from USA, UK, Spain, Austria, France, Brazil, Colombia, Australia and many more across the globe.

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The Shaw Centre, where the Summit was hosted.
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The famous Rideau Canal in front of the Shaw Centre.
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Needs no introduction! The famous landmark of Canada – Parliament Hill.
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And, finally, the best thing I ever ate in my life – the Austrian delicacy: Chicken Schnitzel.

By: Sunpreet Singh

Habitat for Humanity – GCELE TEAM YUKON!

I cannot begin to describe how amazing my experience with Habitat for Humanity Yukon has been. I’ll admit while filling out the GCELE form, Yukon was my last choice. I was a little disappointed when I saw the congratulation email saying I had been chosen to join the team going to Yukon as opposed to China or Costa Rica. I remember thinking to myself, “Ugh. Yukon? It’s in Canada, it’s going to be so boring.” Boy was I wrong. The staff members and other students were such a blast to be with, I would not have wanted this trip to be any other way.

Before the trip, there had been several meetings for everyone to get to know each other. My initial thoughts about the group were that we were all pretty shy and that getting comfortable with each other would take a long time. Also, my perspective on Yukon, and the trip in general, was very limited. I thought that the families we would be helping would be of native descent, I thought we would be staying in tents or a run-down lodge and I thought we would be eating at McDonald’s every day. To say the least, I was pretty ignorant.

First group photo!
First group photo!

Many things surprised me once we were in Yukon.

  1. I didn’t have to sleep in a tent! The Yukon Inn was much more than what I had anticipated. The beds were soft, there was never a lack of hot water in the showers and not one bug or roach in sight! The television actually had good cable too! hotel
  2. I also didn’t eat McDonald’s for 8 days! I remember google mapping the Yukon Inn and noticing the McDonald’s across the street thinking I’d have to eat Big Mac’s and french fries every day. There were so many different places to eat at that every dinner was at a new restaurant. Also, the Yukon Inn had such a wide variety of breakfast that you could honestly order something new every morning.
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    First breakfast together!

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    Antionette’s (this was SO good)
  3. The families that would live in the duplex home we were building were not what I had pictured. I had expected people of native descent (tanned skin, long, dark hair, custom clothing). Meeting Jeff, Tanya and Brendan made me realize that there aren’t just natives who live in Whitehorse and that there are different types of poverty. GCELE – Team Yukon!
  4. I used more than just a hammer! I was genuinely surprised when we got to use a table saw, a Sawzall, an electric mitre saw, a nail gun, etc. Habitat for Humanity trusted a bunch of college students, who aren’t even studying construction, to build a house… Thankfully we had patient leaders (Jean-Marc, Jerome, Nico, Brendan and Stu) to help guide us the entire time. 8
  5. We lifted 600+ lbs of wood! It’s amazing what teamwork can do. I never thought that I’d have to lift roof trusses, or even being able to lift them at all. 1Roof
  6. Bannock (specifically Shawana’s bannock) is to die for.

    Look at that bannock!
    Look at that bannock!

This once in a lifetime experience has given me a broader perspective on life. It has shown me what teamwork can do. It has introduced me to some amazing people I would have never talked to on my own. It has given me a better understanding of charity vs. social justice, and that more of the latter should be done. It has taught me to keep my mind open and not be so judgemental and narrow-minded. Thank you Centennial and Habitat for Humanity for giving me this opportunity!

Team Yukon!
Team Yukon!
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Whitehorse, Yukon will forever have our heart!

– Kristina Maniacup

Below is a short video I put together highlighting our trip. And by short I mean 19 minutes… ENJOY!

Trip to Remember!!!!!

Trip of a lifetime to say the least! This past June I had the opportunity to travel to Prince Edward Island to participate in a GCELE and represent Centennial College, my second home.

The first day we spent at the Habitat for Humanity warehouse cutting lumber that was to be made into picnic benches for an upcoming fundraiser. It was rainy and cold but that never stopped us! We pushed through lifting, cutting, transporting, and organizing every single piece of wood. We encouraged each other and most of all we completed our task with no injuries, all 10 fingers in tact!

The second day we finally got to work on the house. It was amusing to see all of the ladies minus Pierre, wearing hard hats with tool belts. Most of us had never even picked up a hammer before. We divided ourselves into a few small groups and we worked effectively. At the end of the day it was an unbelievable feeling to see how much worked we had completed. We all had a sense of accomplishment knowing that our hard work would give a family a home that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

Later that night we had the pleasure of meeting Erica and her daughter, who are the future owners of the house we built. The moment we were introduced it gave me clarity. I knew then that no matter how many bumps and bruises I got, I would never quit.

Overall it was an experience I will never forget. Not only was I able to apply what I learned during my first year at Centennial College, I also was able to learn so much. Hats off to Pierre and Anjana, at all times they kept their composure and helped to keep the group focused and on task. Thank you Centennial College for the opportunity to travel to Prince Edward Island and help to make a difference in a deserving families life.Bonding over some grub!!!

P.E.I = Beautiful
P.E.I = Beautiful
After a hard days work;)
After a hard days work;)

Who Helps Who Part 2 ( the End ): Building Community: PEI-1 June 21-28, 2015

As our team leader reminded us to finish my journal. There you go, here is the story to be continued till end:

Day 5

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In the morning as usual: getting ready and getting into the car : those are the hardest part of morning routine. Beside that the car ride to the Nine Miles Creek takes  30 minutes in length has made a few gals taking a short snooze, right Rebecca?

Today our task is : putting the porch posts/ columns! my team this time: Kate, Tiffany, Nikki and myself

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our Post experts: Kate and Tiffany : watch! they know what they are doing
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Selfie is always the fun thing especially after making mistakes
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Yes! we did it one post straight! well done girls: another 7 to go!

When one team continue working on framing inside the house, another team led by Mr. Pierre continue finishing their roofing job.

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It’s Brittany and Rebecca in action ( on the roof!)
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Mr. Don ( Habitat for Humanity PEI Project Manager) is showing roofing team how to install shingles near soffit and eavestrough
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the roofing team has finished the roof ! good job!

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our Team Leader Pierre! the best leader ever!
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the sweetest staff guide that Centennial College that has ever appointed: and our team is the lucky one to have her in our team! Anjana Patrick: she is the roofer by weekend 🙂

Oh yeah! I almost forget to mention about the drywalls! Oh my lord! those are  heavy! But since we are strong girls: we manage to move all drywalls ( we are talking about hundreds of them) from the yard in to the house before raining

We finish our job for the day, going back to the hostel and having a nice shower and then ready for a photoshoot and having dinner. The night ends with the moment of sharing!

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I finally get a chance to take pictures with Lupines! credit to Anjana Patrick : the photographer
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The most exciting moment is to eat out! this time: Pedro’s Island Eatery! I am hungry!
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my dinnah! Steak and Scallops
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Oh Mr. Pierre by the help of Karla  is giving an instruction how to make a joke ( kidding)
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the night ends with this recognition award: everybody got one: sweet so sweet: at least I found one  new job: a comedian (apparently)

DAY 6

It’s getting harder: the tension in the site job ( you know what I mean: It’s FRIDAY). everyone wants to finish working asap and the project manager wants the target is being reached

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tighten up all posts/columns
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It’s having difficulty with a dull screw driver
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Pierre and Anjana are helping to finish the last post that needed to be screwed
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the best lunch at the job site
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I know Karla it’s hard, isn’t it?
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you know what I mean, right? it’s Friday!
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Yay! we finish
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our 5 days work on job site has paid off: we’ve done our job and reached the target!
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“I Build great houses” showing off pose! finally got to visit Brackley Beach at the first time!
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Can you see what we actually have for dinner? Lobsters and 4 anti allergic pills ( not shown in the pictures)
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With Erika and Alyannah. A mother and a daughter. It’s true that we help them to build their house. But they help me to learn how to share blessings and to understand that it’s worth giving your thought, energy and time to people who really deserve
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A thank you letter from Erika and Alyannah. From me: I thank you Centennial College via GCELE, Habitat for Humanity PEI and Thank you Erika and Alyannah and all my PEI Team 1 to help me to be a better person and to help me to recognize myself that I could do something beyond my expectation YOU HELP ME!
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A Souvenir To Remember

Day 7

Day 7 is the fun part: sightseeing to explore PEI and souvenirs  shopping

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Do you know that The Confederation Bridge in PEI with12,9 km ( 8 miles) in length is the longest bridge in world crossing ice-covered water?
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One of benefit joining GCELE program: finding best friends!
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Lunch at Landmark Café at Victoria by the Sea
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The best fish lunch I have ever had at Victoria by the Sea ( because I went there once)
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Landmark Café
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all handcrafts the restaurant owner collected from many places around the world including Bali Indonesia ( he got a lot of stuffs and stories about Bali by the way!
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one of the must visits while in PEI : Cow Creamery!
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Taking a tour at Founders Hall Charlottetown is a great thing to do and to learn more about Confederation of Canada
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with Mr. George Brown (statue)
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Going to PEI without bringing back Lobsters? come on It’s 8 lbs.
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Have an opportunity to meet Mr. Sadat, the owner of Afghan Restaurant named Sadat’s Cuisine. He is one of family that Habitat for Humanity helped building their house in 2011
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Afghan food
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Did we look tired of being good girls with one bodyguard to make sure nobody go to jail and nobody go to ER
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Anne of Green Gables Chocolate store! I finished the coffee bean chocolate a gift from Habitat for humanity and had to buy another 3 packs for moi alone

DAY 8

It’s day 8, Its time to say Sayonara but we still have a bit of time to explore the Brackley Neighborhood: so we rent bikes, visited the Dunn Gallery and Boutique Café and Brackley Beach

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We started our day with Lupins
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Waiting for rental bike being open with Miss Mexico
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Yay! we got the bikes!
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I am riding a bike
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Look what I got Bee! a stone from the Atlantic Ocean ( Brackley Beach)
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relaxing: feel like one of the gallery owner
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Group Selfie with Robyn and Karla
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the Smell of The Ocean I love
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Roommates Wefie
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We are here!
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Before Sayonara to “our home far from home” How I like my team, really shows her 🙂
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Anjana the Sweet pie and me
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this is how we say,” I don’t wanna go home”

Days POST PEI

Another amazing thing about joining GCELE and GEO programs, you will make new friends, at least one of two  become your friends, there is a possibility  they could be your friends for life not just for a summer or spring….like a song” Amigos Para Siempre”

we did a roommate reunion and got together few times  : we hope our friendship grows fonder

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We went to Taste of the Danforth and had so much fun
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in our first get together: we are Satisfying of our thirstiness by drinking things we are not allowed to do while in PEI: WE ALL ADMITTED THAT WE FOLLOWED ALL RULES: such as good girls.

I  will say that  because of Centennial College with its programs:  I have gained a lot of new experience, I added friends and I have improved my knowledge and I have valued myself higher than ever.

THANK YOU!

Lessons Learned in PEI

Personally, I do not think there are enough words in the English Dictionary or the Universe that can truly describe how amazing, humbling and rewarding my experience with Habitat for Humanity PEI was. From July 5-12 I had the chance to work alongside a diverse group of staff and students from Centennial College, whom I probably would have never met if I did not go on this GCELE. Within one week, these people who were complete strangers to me grew to become some of the most dedicated, hardworking, loving, compassionate and humorous people that I have come across in my life. Along with this phenomenal group I was able to work alongside some of the most wonderful Habitat Staff and volunteers, who taught me some very valuable lessons.

Prior to being on this build, I knew very little of the amazing work that Habitat does not only in PEI but across the world. You see I come from a family full of electricians and contractors that all had their share of habitat moments yet never fully explain why they have volunteered. Habitat strives to provide affordable housing for families across the planet in hopes that one day everyone will be able to own a place to call home. Within PEI, Habitat aims to build five houses a year for families that truly deserve them. In order to qualify for housing an individual or family is evaluated within three areas: 1) ability to repay a Habitat Mortgage 2) level of need and 3) willingness to partner. Also in order to qualify families must also have a minimum income of $23, 228, as well as provide numerous documents about financials and also provide 500 hours of “sweat equity” in which they will provide labour on their own homes and other builds, do media and other projects and 100 of these hours must be completed before the start of their own homes build.

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Here is some of the really valuable lessons that I learned while on my GCELE:

  1. YOUR COMFORT LEVEL WILL BE TESTED:    For a whole week I was thrown into close living quarters with six other women who I had met only a handful of times prior to the trip. We lived in a dormitory style hostel which consisted of 4 sets of bunk-beds and very little walking space. We had shared shower and washroom facilities which means waiting for sometimes fifteen to thirty minutes for showers and the use of a toilet. Your patience will be tested but after a few days you get used to it. For those who are uncomfortable with using port-a-potty, that is all that is available on build sites, yes you will use one when you have no other choice. There is also the case of those who do snore or talk in their sleep, I suggest bringing ear plugs as they will drown out the sound of not only that but people coming and going from the room and moving about the hostel.

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EVERYONE HAS A STORY: Two people/ families that really touched my heart while I was in PEI was that of the wonderful volunteer Tammy and the ever so gracious Sadat Family.

Tammy is a volunteer with Habitat who does all the painting and trim on the last 8 houses that have been built on the island. Tammy started out volunteering for Habitat when she was sentenced to 137 hours of Community Service for a DUI. After completing her required hours she just never left Habitat. She fell in love with what they do and knew that she wanted to do more. Despite her past people come to know that Tammy is this phenomenal women who light up a room with her smile and make anyone feel comfortable with just a laugh or a little story. As I spent only four hours with her I came to know that Tammy lives a tiny little trailer with her fisherman boyfriend. Money is tight and there are times when they can barely afford to feed themselves, yet Tammy gives back to her community each and every day. Tammy not only volunteers with Habitat but she also provides palliative care for those around her, provides a place of refuge for those who are homeless or have ran away from their own demons and also rents out rooms to university students. If there was a word to describe Tammy it would be: HERO.

The Sadat Family: is a family of seven that came to Canada as Refugees in 2007. We had a chance to meet them when they opened the doors of their restaurant to provide us dinner one night while in Charlottetown. Their restaurant Sadat’s Cuisine provides some of the best Afghani food I have ever had and also provides a little bit of comfort for those who are missing home. Mr. Sadat and his wonderful family were the recipients of the biggest house that Habitat PEI has ever built for a family on the island and provide a hearty and delicious dinner to Habitat Volunteers in gratitude. Mr. Sadat did not get into full detail of his story of hardships, trials, tribulations, horror and heartbreak about coming to Canada, but you can tell in one’s eyes that even though he and his family had a horrible time coming to Canada they are very grateful for what they have and are very willing to open their doors to everyone they meet. If you are interested in reading their story you can find it here: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2015-01-17/article-4010493/Afghan-couple-recall-remarkable,-jarring-journey-to-Prince-Edward-Island/1) One word to describe this amazing family is: SURVIVORS

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 TEAMWORK AND COMMUNICATION IS VITAL: During the week build I had the chance to do many different things however two of the main things that stuck out for me were facia and drywall. During these two very different areas of housing building you are required to work with a team and communicate at all times to complete these task. I know that I am not Hercules and would not have been able to put up drywall nor facia without the help of teammates and other strong arms. During both times each member had to communicate at all times to make sure that cuts were precise, pieces were nailed in, fit perfectly, and all task were completed. There was no time to sit around and be lazy, we had homes to build for two very deserving families and had a timeline to do so.

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YOU ARE BOUND TO FIND OUT A LOT ABOUT YOURSELF: This statement I can speak a lot about, you see amongst my family and close friends I am known as a princess, who does not get dirty nor does a lot of heavy lifting. I prefer to spend time with people who I know and am very uncomfortable in situations where I do not know people. However I learned many things about myself: it is okay to get dirty, it will just wash off at the end of the day. I can lift more than I thought I could, hanging drywall is not easy but someone had to lift it and along with a great team all heavy lifting can be done. Living in close proximity of people I do not know no longer bothers me, you learn to adapt and accept the traits of those around you and you learn to move within a synchronized rhythm. Lastly, you can truly do anything that you put your mind to, I knew every little about building a house and math is not my strong point, but when you are determined to do something, miracles happen and your body, mind and soul just do what it has to.

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Overall I had a truly amazing and wonderful experience in PEI and would not change a thing (except the mass amount of bugs). The team I had with me was amazing and I learned not only a lot about myself but about different cultures and countries around the world that I have never been. I am so grateful for being able to experience this with Centennial College and cannot wait to get on another GCELE and Habitat build here in Toronto. I also cannot wait to get back to PEI and fall in love with the province all over again.

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Alicia Bell

Child and Youth Care

PEI GCELE Team 2

Prince Edward Island, the birthplace of Canada.

Words cannot describe how amazing and humbling my experience with Habitat for Humanity PEI has been. This past week, I had the opportunity to work alongside some of Centennial College’s most hard-working, respectful and hilarious staff and students whom I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet outside of being selected for the GCELE. Additionally, I had the chance to meet and work with some of Habitat for Humanity’s most dedicated and inspiring employees and volunteers.

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Prior to this GCELE trip, I had attended a HFH volunteer orientation session in Toronto a couple of years ago. I didn’t commit to any builds at the time so I wasn’t sure of what to expect on this trip to PEI. With this trip, I was thrown into close living quarters with 13 strangers. We had little Internet access, very few hours of screen time, communal accommodations and a structured schedule set by Habitat for Humanity.

Here are some things that I learned while on this GCELE:

  • Hearing individuals’ stories of hardship and perseverance make way for personal reflection and feelings of gratitude. One of the restaurants we went to during the week was Sadat’s Cuisine in Charlottetown. The Sadat family of seven came to PEI as refugees in 2007 (article here). And with the help of Habitat for Humanity, the Sadat family was built the biggest home on PEI to date to accommodate their large family. While Said Akbar Sadat was telling his family’s heart wrenching story about coming to Canada and starting over, his voice was filled with love and appreciation for the kindness and gifts they’ve received.
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  • Teamwork, pitching in and cooperation are vital interpersonal skills – especially when drywalling! We were there to help build a house for a family in need – there was no room for people to slack off and not participate in the daily tasks assigned.
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  • You are bound to experience discomfort and inconveniences – you’ve just got to suck it up and stick it out! I can confidentially say that I had the most mosquito bites of our group on this trip. My left eyelid was swollen for the first half of the trip with a bug bite below my brow line and one under my eye making me look like a female Quasimodo without the hunchback. Showers, bathroom and the kitchen were shared spaces so you had to be mindful of others. There may be snorers amongst the people that you’re sharing a room. Your everyday comforts and luxuries are not always readily available, so find better ways to spend your time. Another takeaway from this point? Bring lots of insect repellent and ear plugs.

I had a wonderful time in PEI and I am so grateful to have experienced it through Centennial’s amazing GCELE program. From my experience, Islanders are very friendly and gracious people. The lifestyle there is very relaxed compared to Toronto and there’s very little traffic on the roads. There’s a strong sense of community and pride in PEI… I mean it is the birthplace of Canada after all.

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Fiona Lui
Children’s Media post-graduate program
PEI TEAM #2

Key Points about PEI

1. Local fresh seafood. Of course, who doesn’t like fresh tasty lobster and mussels?

2. PEI potatoes. The perfect result of the unique environment and weather!

3. COW icecream. Won’t be disappointed by Mooey Gooey, Wowie Cowie and Moo-York Cheesecake!

4. Insects spray and afterbite. You might want to prepare them before get into the field. The grass is green, the flower is beautiful but the insects are just the nature of life, don’t let them bring you down.

5. Sea. Clear and blue, endless and forever. It’s good to bring a pair of sunglass and sun block lotion, simply lie down on the beach, listen to the sound of sea and fall into the dream of earth.

6. Bicycles. It’s good to rent a bicycle and enjoy the vivid air since there is only a few cars on the street. Also to explore secret places that car can never reach.

7. People. Friendly, friendly and friendly. Warm welcome and great smile.

8. Life Style. More relaxed compared to Toronto. There is not much to do over there but it’s a great place to free your spirit.

9. Shopping. They do have Walmart and Tim hortons, but Pepsi is more popular than Coca-cola in restaurants.

10. Habitat for humanity in PEI. An organization that aim for giving people safe and affordable houses.

11. Values of Habitat for Humanity. Housing for all, believe in the worth and dignity of every human being, build partnership with other people, hold faith in action and maintain diversity and inclusiveness.

12. Volunteer. Habitate for Humanity is always waiting for you.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Poverty is a relative issue

I have been taking so long to start with my post because when I think of my experience back in PEI I get a mix of emotions and thoughts that I can’t put together to make a sentence, so this is my first attempt and I hope it goes well and you like it.

I arrived to Canada on January this year, I am from Mexico, a developing country that doesn’t look like Canada at all. My first thoughts about Canada were about the weather (I know it sounds like a cliché). I never felt so cold in my life like the first 3 weeks I spent here. Next, I realized that everyone was prepared and Winter is just the time of the year when people enjoy Winter sports, shopping indoors and building their summer bodies in the gym! I liked that attitude! For me it was a challenge to feel comfortable and happy in the street with such weather, but I decided I was going to make the most out of this experience and take any opportunity that meant discovery and growth…

During my second week of classes I attended a talk about the GCELE programs. I applied a few days after and got selected a month later. I was so happy to know that soon I would be traveling somewhere within Canada and I would get to see the real culture and I would see what poverty was like in Canada.

At first I was a little exceptic to be honest, the poverty I had seen was raw, poor people in Mexico live under 6 dollars a day, they don’t always go to school because they can’t afford school supplies and tuition, and their diet is restricted to the basic foods. It was impossible that they had that here. I was just about to break some of my paradigms.

Poverty as I know now, is a relative issue worldwide. Every country fights its own battles, but poverty is not a lifestyle, it’s a concept. Poverty doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. Poverty means not to have access to what the majority of the population does in each country, it could be education or healthcare, it could be a new car every year, it could be more than 50 dls a day or just new clothes every season. Every country has a standard of poverty, but within their duties, governments and citizens fight it every day with hard work, and I know this now because I also realized that our work as volunteers is just a piece of a big puzzle. Our labor as global citizens is just as meaningful as what governments, organizations and corporations do. We empower our community and therefore society when we decide to act and be part of the solution to a wordlwide issue. I am proud to be part of this and I encourage you to see beyond your daily landscape and see how our little actions make big changes.

Being part of a GCELE is a door to a life-changing experience.

Karla Cabrera

PEI June 21-28 / 2015