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.
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
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!
Puerto Plata is a beautiful city located in The Dominican Republic and I feel extremely blessed to have experienced the gems throughout this city and the lovely people that live there. My stay at the Tubagua Ecolodge was truly a challenge for me but I’m so glad I pushed past my fears and made the best of it. I am not an outdoorsy type of lady and I have a serious fear of bugs but I didn’t want that to stop me from all that was ahead of me for the next 6 days. I got to experience hiking to “God’s swimming pool” a beautiful waterfall located 40 mins away from the lodge and it was AMAZING! Walking through the hills and valleys was exhilarating and it made feel like I could conquer the world! Me and the FLIP team alongside our wonderful tour guide, encouraged each other, shared stories about challenges we faced and overcame and we kept each other smiling with our corny jokes. Many of us haven’t walked that long and far in a very long time, but we just kept going! I saw all my classmates and instructors in a whole new light and I felt so empowered by each of them whenever I would feel like it was getting tough. I compared that whole hiking experience to life, we go through ups and downs, we struggle, it gets tough but we just gotta persevere. Then when you get to the finish line you realize it was all worth it in the end and the challenges you faced weren’t so bad after all. Even leaning on a friend for support is necessary at times too, because we all face similar challenges.
All of the excursions really impressed me, I felt like our days were planned out well and taught us so much about community development and how successful organizations and projects can be if we use the tools we have learned and apply them. I assumed we would be doing a lot of work in the underserved communities so I was ready to get to work! but instead we heard very heartfelt stories, we learned about the failures and successes and we took a tour throughout the area and got a clear picture of what an underserved community in another country looks like.
This experience has taught me to push past any fears I have and to never assume nor have any expectations. I learned to just go for it, face everything head on, to never be afraid to ask for help or to ask a question and use every experience to help you be a better person. I plan to use all the tools I learned from being apart of a team with individuals who share the same passions and vision but have unique personalities, in my own projects and at work so we can be successful when trying to create an effective community based program etc.
You just gotta F-L-I-P!! (Forget Limitations & Instill Positivity)
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”.
It is now the last day in Peru. Last night during dinner, we each shared our thoughts on the program and our experience with each other. Among the things said were how much of an impact we felt we made, the amount of knowledge we were able to apply from Centennial, and the bond we now share with each other. What amazed me was the amount of work and cultural activities we were able to squeeze in ten days and the appreciation I felt for our two faculty members and the rest of the team. As of right now, we are all waiting in the airport both excited to get home, but also sad to leave Peru.
We have spent the last four days in Illimo working on the prerequisite plans for the pilot plant located within the Institute. They intend on producing jam, cheese, yogurt, and butter. It will also function as a teaching facility for the students. Part of our responsibilities included developing SOPs for receiving and storage, SSOPs for the equipment and common areas, processing flow charts and diagrams, and recommendations for the premises, pest control, and traceability.
We spent half of each day preparing thse documents. On the first day, we spent the other
half socializing with the students and alumini at the Institute. We learned abour their history, culture, and passion for the industry. It was humbling to meet the students, because even though they work so hard, each of them took a day off to welcome us to the Institute.
For the other days, we had site visits to industrial partners including a banana plantation, guinea pig farm, animal feed production facility, and bee apiary. Each location began as a family run business and has developed into profitable establishments in Peru. It was an honour to speak to the representatives and owners, and to see their dedication and pride with their respective companies.
We have spent many hours at the Institute and back at the hotel completing all the documents for the Institute. Tomorrow we will spend our last day presenting these documents to our Peruvian partners.