Being part of FLIP #centennial_sage was a huge honour, a big thanks to #centennialcollege for providing this opportunity. Applied our knowledge and experience to implement #prerequisiteprograms for a pilot plant IESTP, ILLIMO. It was a great experience which helped me to learn technical as well as personal skills as working with a group of 10 students from different countries with different ideas is never easy but this is how you learn #teamwork. Besides this, a warm welcome by our Peruvian partners made our willingness for our project more stronger. Also, we visited museums, beach and a number of manufacturing plants which added a lot of fun. Received the certification of recognition for all of our team work and also raised fund from our group for students as a scholarship after going through emotional discussion about the poverty and passion of Peruvian children for education. The trip was overall mixture of education, fun and a lifelong rememberable global experience.
I am thankful to Centennial college for organizing the Faculty-Led International Program. It was an honour to be a part of the FLIP -Peru program. Along with my ten other classmates and two faculty members (Prof. Xavier Aguirre and Prof. Marco). Our journey began on Feb 22, 2020. We had a daily visit to IESTP – Illimo to work on the pilot plant. Along with IESTP, we visited few other places such as Guinea pig farm, apiary, National Institute of Agricultural Research and Gandules internationals.
On day one we visited Guinea pig farm where we learned about the rearing of the pigs. Later we headed to see the IESTP pilot plant. On day two, we visited the apiary where we saw honey bees, artificial honeycombs and equipment to obtain honey. Day three, we visited the international institute of agricultural research where we learned about the natural media of pest control (Using insects and larva). Day four we visited one of the biggest facilities in Peru “Gandules Internationals”. Day five was scheduled to visit farms and fields of Gandules Internationals. Day six, we utilized for cultural activities where we visited three amazing museums.
The IESTP pilot plant is designed for the production of jam, yogurt, pickles, cheese and honey. They have a few modern types of equipment which is enough to start production for small scale businesses. The professors and employees of the institute are very hardworking and trying their best to start the plant as soon as possible. I am very glad that I also contributed something to help them. The task was given to us was to develop a process flow chart and diagram for jam, pickles and yogurt production. We all tried our best to develop those. For their better understanding, we translated those charts in Spanish. We also got a chance to do premises inspection which was a great learning experience. The visit to Gandules International was amazing. I learned a lot about pickle facility and GMPs. I saw practically what I learned so far during the course of three semesters. We also visited their farms and fields to see how and what technology they use to grow their vegetables especially bell peppers and jalapeno.
The Peruvian people are very humble, kind and warm. They respect their visitors and try to provide the best hospitality. Our cultural activities began with a dinner party at the guinea pig farm owner’s house. The next day we visited three museums where we learned about the Peruvian ancestors and their culture. We returned home safely on March 2, 2020.
Overall the experience of the FLIP Peru program was amazing and memorable. I would like to thank #SaGE for organizing such a wonderful study trip. Our instructors, prof. Xavier and Prof. Marco took care of all of us and made sure of our safety. It was a safe and pleasant journey. I will never forget the FLIP Peru trip.
#FLIP-Peru (Food Science Technology)
As I signed up for the FLIP (Faculty lead International Placement) program I had no idea what to expect. Would we be working with grassroots trailblazers? Perhaps we would be focusing more on the economic history of the area. Maybe we would be working to share the message of living a greener and cleaner life! Everyone said it would change the way I look at the world but it was hard to believe. Taking off into Canadian skies, I felt excited and nervous about the adventure I was about to embark on.
We landed in Puerto Plata, a city hosting the first port ever created by Christopher Columbus in the Dominican Republic and soon learned that part of our job was to keep our eyes open to notice the assets available in each community. This was to come up with ways to engage tourists, that recently began returning to Puerto Plata on cruise ships, in a sustainable way. The point was to step away from walled-off resorts and cruise ship routines enough to take in the beautiful communities that surrounded the port, support the local economy and take home an unforgettable and changing experience.
We visited many budding experiences with fresh eyes and eager hearts. We visited a backyard mine owned by a local family where chunks of amber were extracted from the ground and made into jewellery. We visited a beautiful and warm family that owned a coffee plantation up in the mountains. We experienced how coffee beans travel from the tree to the cup and clapped along to a diddy they sang while grinding freshly roasted coffee beans (which smell amazing by the way). We scaled mountains and slunk through rivers examining prospective tourism opportunities and enjoyed the breathtaking view.
It all seemed so beautiful, tranquil and new but we learned that Puerto Plata was actually recovering from a difficult past. Puerto Plata was well known for being a major port, tourism hotspot and coffee-growing region which attracted attention from around the globe. In the 1980s, coffee leaf rust, a global disease that had been spreading, killed 80% of the coffee trees in the area and its economy took a devastating hit. This caused farmers to begin deforestation in an attempt to rid the mountainside of these diseased coffee trees and pick up cattle farming instead. Large expanses of grass replaced lush shaded coffee forests and in turn, less rainfall was able to trickle through the mountainside gound into the riverways. Because of this, Yasica river, a large river flowing through the area lost 50% of its water flow over the course of twenty years.
It took a while to get my head around that one. I’ve heard of cause and effect. I’ve learned in class how everything is connected but I haven’t seen it like this. To think that what would seem like an opportunistic moment (beginning a cattle farm) could become so devastating (drying up a major river) was beyond anything I could imagine! This trip wasn’t about one person, one project, one town… it was about realizing how everything is intertwined and connected and how every part of the economy is part of a fine intricate web.
I walked into this program expecting to help a few people or work together on a project that needed extra workers on the job but I was so mistaken. Although we did meet beautiful people, listened to excellent music, experienced amazing food and shared incredible conversation about the Dominican Republic, this was about increasing the health of communities through something as small as tourists planting little coffee tree seeds and placing them in a nursery. A task that took a few minutes out of the day and meant to appease bored vacationers, created a whole opportunity to impact the entirety of Puerto Plata. If the coffee trees can be given to farmers, they can plant those trees and the forests surrounding, protecting those trees will return. If the forests return, the roots that hold those forests will hold more heavy rain and allow the waters to trickle through the ground and replenish the rivers. If the waters are going into the river, there is less runoff and flooding of towns will lessen and people can build their communities with more security. The impact is tremendous!
Everything is connected whether we see it or not. This just so happened to be a more dramatic situation in which I could spend one week with the right people and see the big picture but life isn’t like that and many communities aren’t either. It’s important for us to realize that. I went from feeling so confident in participating in this program to being humbled and dumbfounded by how big the impact of each activity is. I feel that I need to learn, now more than ever, about how those interconnections work and how I can be an advocate for positive change. As a community development worker, I would like to carry this experience into every project I work on. Not only is this applicable in community development work but it’s applicable to all areas of life. I would like to remember that all things are connected, whether I see it right away or not, and work towards healthy connectivity between those aspects.
This experience has changed all my perception about Community Economic Development, the course which my FLIP was connected to. I could see and understand how it works in a practical situation and it made all the difference for me. I am glad for the learning, for the group support, for the professors and my friends, we created deep connections and we quite enjoyed this experience together.
We visited communities, talked with local people, compared the community-based tourism and the typical tourism in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We learned more than concepts and processes, we felt the reality and how things happen in the real-life. I feel more prepared for the placement next semester. Also, we had two professors with us, so we could have insights about the engagement process.
I was happy to see how the community did not give up and is still looking for a better quality of life for all of them. The Dominican Republic has a sad history with a lot of struggles and fights, but they are strong, happy and kind people. I would like to mention our guide, Juanin, an excellent professional who took care of everyone and very knowledgeable.
In each community, we understood something about Community Development Work, which is a wide program. We had moments to connect all the aspects within the program, such as local people, economic aspects, sustainability, social issues, different and divergent approaches. Also, every day we had moments to discuss what we did and our perspectives; they were great talks, where the group felt safe to present their opinions and different reflections without judgement. Learning from other´s experiences is one of the best ways to increase our knowledge and expand our minds. After these days I feel more confident in myself and my professional future. I believe I can do a good job and support people to change their lives.
I recently returned from the Dominican Republic with some of my classmates and teachers from the Community Development Work Program. The purpose of the trip was to study community-based tourism in economic community development. Before having this experience, I had a very shallow idea of how these two areas were connected, however after returning, I feel as though I have a much deeper understanding not only of what we learned while abroad but how to connect my experiences to the work that we are doing here in Toronto.
We had the opportunity to participate in many of the tourist activities in Puerto Plata. Puerto Plata suffered a major crash in their economy after the wave of tourists who were coming in for the resorts dissipated. Their goal is to redesign tourism based on natural assets, in a way that supports their local economy, and directed focus to one of their most incredible assets; the mountains.
We were allowed to participate in many of the tourist activities that have recently opened, such as a cable car ride to a beautiful mountain top above the clouds, hikes through the mountainside and rivers, visiting and swimming in beautiful natural springs and waterfalls, planting coffee plants and many other unforgettable experiences.
Near the end of the trip, we were able to apply the knowledge and skills that we have gained throughout the year, as well as from lectures and presentations that we participated in during our time in the Dominican Republic.
I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a valuable experience. I made so many deep connections to my peers, our local partners, and the country. I came back with a brand new perspective on community development work and the value of community. We became a family on this trip and I am so happy to say that I have made lifelong friends who I was fortunate enough to share this incredible experience with.
Returning to Toronto and getting back school, I am so excited to share my experiences and everything that I learned with my classmates, and I feel that I have so much more to share and to put into my work in the future whether it is during class, placements or my future after graduating from Centennial.
Overall, it was such an amazing and valuable experience and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful program!
Being an international student is not easy. When you begin to experience the changes of being away from home, many feelings can take place and make you think day by day if you made a good decision when you left. However, there are places and people that from the first moment, make you remember where you came from and give you the warmth of the home you left, allowing you to forget those sad feelings and providing you with a wonderful experience.
I am going to tell you about my trip when I found the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic, I was very excited to meet a new country, fear and happiness took a place on me because I did not know what I was going to find in This place, which at that time was unknown to me and. When I got there, these feelings got bigger once I realized that I was in a country that would remind me of thousands of things that I had left behind. The experience on Puerto Plata gave me the feeling of being at home, having the opportunity to experience their culture allowed me to see the world with other eyes and grow personally and professionally.
I met many places and people who full me with their happiness. One of them was the Community of Pedro Garcia, which is characterized by coffee production. When I found myself on his coffee trial, I could understand the importance of persistence and the desire of a community to move forward. I also saw how people care about teaching others to be able to progress on their own. On the other hand, I learned about the love and conviction of people in the Nuevo Renacer neighbourhood, where they taught me that any goal you set for yourself, you can achieve if you wish with your heart. This community gave me great motivation to continue striving within my profession and to be able to do my best. Since I could feel the pure love of these people, especially children, who thank you for your work with a huge smile and a hug that leaves you breathless.
If you ask me the reasons why you should go to this place, I will assure that the community of Puerto Plata, will fill you with its wonderful culture, you will feel the warmth and hope of its people and you will be able to experiments its beautiful nature, that day by day gives you a new sense of peace and tranquillity, while allowing you to learn about the importance of working as a team, being persistent and having a vision beyond the limits.
Saying goodbye to this place was not easy and I thanks with my hearth for the great teachings that left me, especially those with whom we could share more moments. Juanin, Tim, Alexis, Sandra, Amber, Juan Pablo and Liz.
Andrea Castillo, 301098175
PUERTO PLATA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Community Development Worker
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 Illinois, Lambayeque, to help prepare the students for employment.
In Lambayeque, we also had the opportunity to meet with the regional government. We acted as a 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 the processing of each product to ensure food safety and quality. We did not have access to the 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 a 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 the language barrier is nothing compared to our shared passion in the food industry which crosses cultures and countries.
By Cindy Tieu (Peru: February 21, 2019 – March 3, 2019)
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 the Ministry of Education, Peru. I was really touched by the words of one of the 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 to 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 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 a visit to rock and sand beaches, local handicraft 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 that 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 to understand the world from a different view altogether.
My deepest thanks to SAGE, FLIP, Centennial College and the two most important persons: Steve and Professor Xavier. I thank Centennial College once again for giving me an opportunity to represent the Centennial college as a college ambassador.
Bhupesh Chandra Tiwari
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.
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-
By Sara Archambault
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 neighbourhood 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.
Written By: Abena Martin