My trip to the DR was amazing! From living at Tubagua Ecolodge to hiking miles of beautiful mountainscapes, from learning about Dominican culture through Merengue dancing to being on the ground interacting with folks, this experience was one of the most eye-opening and impactful trips I have ever taken part in!
I felt immediately connected to the people there, and I was pleasantly welcomed with open arms to the community. I feel grateful and humbled by my experiences at Tubagua Ecolodge, and I was extremely impressed with the food and accommodations (THAT STUNNING VIEW)! I was also very impressed by the Community Based Tourism (CBT) in the community, namely the Amber Mines tour because we learned about the development of the tours and how far they have come in the way of developing the tour to support the needs of many different tour groups/tourists.
Heading to the DR, I was expecting to experience a bit of discomfort surrounding being ‘off the resort’, as I have been told my entire life that “it is unsafe to leave the resort”. However, my assumptions were proven wrong, and the reality was that I felt safer and more confident while I was in the community that at any resort I have ever been to. I learned that there is so much more to the community than what the big resort chains have made me believe for all my life.
This experience has made me realize that there is so much beauty in development, and I am grateful to have been able to witness CBT from the beginning stages to the finished tour. I am excited to take my knowledge back to the Centennial College community, as well as my future career opportunities, and apply the tools I gained while taking part in this FLIP trip, to benefit other CBT initiatives in the GTA!
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.
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?
Today, 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.
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.
On 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?’”
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.
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.
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.
By Cindy Tieu (Peru: February 21, 2019 – March 3, 2019)
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
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
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.
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.
As a group of students we were offered the opportunity to visit the community of Puerto Plata and learn about the community development skills, observe the economy of the people, and build skills among other things. It was an eye-opening experience, where a student like me was able to see an entire world outside of Canada and experience something I wouldn’t have been able to without Sage. We got to meet local community members that accepted us like family, help them with different initiatives, and immerse ourselves in the Dominican culture. The opportunity to observe the local economy as well, see the strengths and weaknesses associated with it, and make note of the opportunities of growth there helped us gain experience with international economies and how to help them with their various needs. Another amazing thing that we were able to do was have to opportunity to listen to a number of different speakers and guests who taught us a multitude of things that relate to our field and future career paths.
The main reason we went to the Dominican Republic as a class was to observe their economy, analyze its strengths and weaknesses, and apply our Community Development techniques there. When people think of the DR the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people is the resorts, and the party life on the beach. But as we had came to learn, this beautiful land had a lot more to offer then that. The economy of the DR is comprised of a very intricate web of corresponding political bodies, agencies, and international organizations. One interesting thing I learnt is that the Japanese helped to boost the tourism for the DR, but only for a contracted amount of time. Aside from the tourism though unfortunately there is a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor. If you are not able to work with tourists, or know English it is hard to make a sustainable living for many Dominicans. We have noticed a paradigm shift in thinking though when it comes to economic development strategies, and local communities are now starting to take advantage of their local commodities and cultural hotspots. One that I wish to mention is the amazing coffee in the DR. There has been an effort to attract tourists to see the coffee manufacturing process, from the tree to the cup, and with the added bonus of seeing the locals sing to the beans it is a great experience they can capitalize on.
The People and the Experience
Overall this was an amazing eye-opener of an experience, and one that was a huge learning opportunity for a lot of us. For some it was the catalyst for them to realize what exactly they wanted to do in the community development field. For others it helped them learn more about the economic development of countries outside of their own. And for myself personally it was a chance to learn more about myself and how I can better interact with not just my classmates but with different kinds of people around the world.
The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, something that a lot of us did not expect. Waking up every morning to see the sun rise over the hills of Puerto Plata, going for 4 hour long hikes across the land just to dive into a beautiful lake and more was something that created a deep connection between nature and us all. But the most beautiful thing we encountered on our trip was the people. Every Dominican we met showed us a level of love and care that we don’t often see from strangers. When they found out we were there to do Community work as well they treated us with even more hospitality, and this is something I would like everyone who visits the DR to see, and not just the resorts that don’t help their communities. In conclusion this trip was an amazing life-changing experience that I must thank SAGE and Centennial College for giving me the opportunity to experience!
I was fortunate to spend seven days in the Dominican Republic with my eleven classmates and two of my professors on a project. This project was sponsored by Centennial College which is located in Toronto, Canada. The course is Community Economic Development, located within the Community Development Program). We traveled to the Dominican Republic to study what is Community-Based Tourism. While we were there, we did lots of projects and touring, we learned about Community-based tourism from a community point of view. However, what stood out to me was the water situation I experienced while being at the Ecolodge where we stayed and how we take water consumption and electricity for granted.
Why promote Community Based Tourism?
To save water and electricity: Conservation of water is vital for globalization. In Canada we waste gallons of water, we shower for hours at a time consuming not only large amounts of water but electricity.
* In the Dominican Republic, most days we were only allowed to shower for 10 minutes the most or else water will run out. You had to wet your skin, turn the water off, lather it will soap and rinse it off.
* Toilets were flushed only when you stool or if the urine in the toilet was brown in colour, if it was light yellow you urinate in it until such time or someone use it to stool then you flush to help conserve the water.
* Lights were turned off every time you left the room which was an open concept. You get the natural light during the day from the sun. The view for your bed was breathtaking as you see the hills, valleys and the lights from the city at night whiles lying on your bed.
* Most of the lights were turn off at a particular time in the night, so getting to the toilet you either had to use your mobile phone torchlight or a manual torchlight.
* There was no bottled water on the Ecolodge; we had filtered water, in which you take your recycled water bottle and fill it up for your needs.
Wake up Canada! Although we are going to be one of the last countries in North America affected by global warming, if we don’t take note and conserve, conserve, conserve, we will be affected at some point. Let’s teach our children how important it is to lessen our ecological footprints, while thinking about the effects of global warming.
With this in mind think about this, I visited the twenty-seven waterfalls (Los Charcos), and due to global warming (ie. rain drought in the region), we only had access to ten falls instead of the regular twelve which is used for tourism. All of this effect is due to climate change and no rainfall, there was no water in the remaining falls. How ironic that is, yes it is, but it is the facts. I remember when I was small and would get angry when my parents say to me
* “If you are not using the lights turn it off.”
* “Stop standing in front of the fridge so long with the door open.”
* “Who is watching the television? Turn it off” or
* “Why the fan is on, and no one is using it?”
All of that was for financial purposes. Today it is for us to save energy and our planet.
So why promote Community Based-Tourism?
So we can learn to appreciate what we have with a renewed sense of Global warming effects and how we can learn to lessen our footprints one by one.
It was a great honor to be a part of Faculty Led International Program #FLIPPERU organized by #centennialcollege. Group of 10 students from Food science Technology department along with a professor and chair person started the trip. The program involved setting up a pilot plant at IESTP, ILLIMO by applying our technical knowledge in real time and helping them in designing the process flow for dairy and Jam products, developing #SSOPs, #GMPs and providing recommendations for all the #prerequisite programs. We also got the opportunity to meet the Ministry of Education, Lima and Regional Governor of Lambayeque. Apart from this, field tour to Banana plantation, Guinea Pig farm, Apicola Apiculutre, Agro farms were the highlight which gave us practical knowledge about the food industries.
Through this great opportunity I gained technical knowledge and most importantly learnt to work with a team of 10 students from different parts of the Country and achieve common goal.
Apart from all the technical experience it was a fun filled trip visiting museums and understanding their civilization, enjoyed with the group at Lima and Chiclayo beaches, buying souvenirs from local markets and most importantly exploring the local Peruvian food.
Thank you @centennial_sage #SaGEJourneys for providing such a wonderful opportunity. Many thanks to #Professor Xavier Aguirre and #Chair Steve Boloudakis for organizing and helping us, without their support this trip wouldn’t be possible. Special mention to the Illimo, Peruvian partners for their hospitality and kindness. #GlobalExperience
10 days is neither short nor long for a school trip to Peru but it is long enough for us to get to know each other. Thanks Centennial College for giving us a chance to apply what we have learnt from Food Science Technology program to support in building a pilot plant for IESTP, ILLIMO. Teamwork and friendship connected us to be one to help our college’s partner in Illimo and also learnt from them who are full of hospitality and will. Not only that it was such an honor for us to introduce ourselves and share our work and experience with Ministry of Education in Lima, Peru.
10 students with 10 different characteristics from 5 countries Canada, India, Venezuela, Jamaica and Vietnam have gathered and been led by our stunning professor- Xavier and Steve. We have worked together to build a safety program for the pilot plant in the partner institute with constructive recommendations. No matter how hard we worked, we are happy to be welcomed warmly from Ms. Maria, Lidia and Peruvian students. The extreme heat of this tropical country cannot stop our willing contributions to the success of the final project. Besides, we had a great opportunity to discover Lima – the capital of Peru and Chiclayo – a beach city which is known as a city of friendship. In Lima, we had a meeting with the authorities of Ministry of Education to present our projects along with our college’s introduction. Only 2 days in Lima, we made time to visit some local markets to buy souvenirs for family and friends and also did not forget to taste some local foods. 10 strangers became friends from that moment.
After an 8-hour-and-a-half flight, we arrived in Chiclayo city where we had cultural activities by visiting Sican museums and the dry forest in Pomac before having another meeting with regional government of Lambayeque. Then we started working on our project at IESTP. It took us about 1 hour to commute every single day by van. On the first working day, our hearts were melted by a small banner in Spanish “Bienvenidos Amigos Canadienses” (Welcome Canadian friends) right at the main office of the institute. Getting to know about this institute, the profs, staffs and students was a pleasure. The students are very young but they have a huge passion for the subjects they are following at school. Without modern facilities, they have been studying very hard for a better life after graduation. We were surprised to know many students out there can not afford to study even though the tuition fee for one year is about 250 soles (around 100 CAD). We decided to raise a fund from our group for 5 scholarship awards named “FLIP Peru 2019” for the freshmen after our very emotional discussion.
Saying goodbye is never easy but this happens sometimes in life. We were very proud, not because of receiving the certificate of recognition from IESTP, but eventually we found ourselves and learnt some lessons which we have not got from school. What is more, we meet each other for one mission and become friends. We would like to use an old African proverb, which Steve reminded us, to put an end for this post “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.