From Lima to Chiclayo

Hi all, this is Cindy (FLIP Peru, 2019). After 12 hours of travel time, we finally arrived at our hotel in Lima! It was 3am and we were all exhausted so it was straight to bed for us.

After breakfast in the morning, we departed for the Ministry of Education. Here, we were able to share our experiences, hopes, and excitement with the team. We specifically highlighted our diverse FLIP team, both culturally and academically. The purpose of our visit is to help a pilot plant in Illimo build their prerequisite plans and set them on the path to success. Moreover, my personal goal is to immerse myself in all of the Peruvian culture, from food to customs and traditions. I not only want to share my experiences, but to learn as much as I can about our Peruvian partners. After our Ministry visit, we spent the rest of the day immersing ourselves in the food culture and Peruvian markets surrounding our hotel.

Day 2 in Peru was spent exploring the Larcomar area, followed by our next flight out of Lima and into Chiclayo for the late evening.

We were all settled into Chiclayo for Day 3’s cultural day, spent visiting museums in Lambayeque and a historic dry jungle where we learned about and saw the impact of El Nino on their ecosystems and economy.

Today we are up bright and early to begin our first day in Illimo and are excited to meet with our Peruvian partners to begin a week full of work, sharing our knowledge and cultures.

My Global Experience – FLIP to Belgium (July 2018)

Written by: Lauren Clancy

Before this Global Experience, travelling has always been somewhat of a pipe dream for me. I have a long list of places I want to see, but seldom had the resources to go. One of the best things to have happened to me was seeing the email about the opportunity to travel to Belgium for beverage marketing. Not only could I go to one of the countries I have most wanted to travel to, but I also would be able to work toward my career goals. As an advertising student, this program would give me a better understanding of where my field fit into the broader marketing mix. Once I found out about this Faculty-Lead International Program (FLIP) I thought of little else besides getting through the application process — and I am so grateful that I was eventually chosen to go.

The Buildings

One of the things that struck me right away was how beautiful the city of Ghent was. It was surreal to look outside the hostel and see a picturesque gothic church from your window and a castle at the end of the canal. Every day on the way to class you would notice new buildings and just be blown away by the architecture. Either with beautiful colours or intricately engraved stonework, each building was so unique and so different than anything I had ever seen before. What’s more is that amidst these old buildings was the very modern Graffitistraat, a street where graffiti is legalized. With everything being within walking distance, you really got to take in and appreciate the city.

 

The Activities

With so much to take in, I was surprised by the great balance between course work and exploration. For beverage marketing, we were tasked with devising a marketing strategy that could launch a Danish beer from Rise Brewery into the Belgian market. We were able to tour breweries of Belgium like Gruut and Duvel Moortgat, which are micro and macro breweries respectively, as well as attend several tastings. On our weekend break many of our group travelled to the coastal city of Ostend and attended an event sponsored by Desperados. Even on our weekend without class, we were able to have an enjoyable experience that also worked to give us a better understanding of the promotional strategies used by competing brands in the market.

The Food

Not only were we engaged in so many activities, we were also learning about the Belgian market and the Belgian consumer. To truly develop a feasible marketing strategy we had to speak with locals and bartenders. This was such an amazing experience because you got learn so much more about Belgium by talking with the people who knew the country best. We were given great insight into our projects, but also references of places we should see and specific local foods we should try. Everywhere in Ghent were small cafes, confectionaries, and privately owned restaurants (which was a big departure from the franchises we see everywhere in Canada). It was really helpful to get recommendations and make the most of our two weeks in this country – I also do not think I will have such delicious waffles ever again!

The Takeaway

In hindsight, I believe there is no better way to truly immerse yourself into a new country than to study there. While I was only in Belgium for two weeks, I feel like I got to learn so much about another culture. Working in cross-cultural teams meant I got to really understand both the similarities and differences in our daily lives. Yet, what surprised me most was that we were not just working with Belgian and Danish students. Many students, even within the Canadian group, were international students who came from different countries than the country he or she represented for this FLIP. We had such an eclectic cultural mix within the three participating schools (some students being from Poland, Bulgaria, Colombia, Brazil, India and Ireland). Not only did we come from different countries, but also we were all in somewhat different programs in school. This meant we could bring something unique to the table and learn from each other for these projects. I think this FLIP really showed me how people can come together and form friendships that transcend different backgrounds and experiences, and it was really special to be a part of that. I am so grateful that SaGE and Centennial have provided me with this opportunity to make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Thank you so much for this unforgettable Global Experience! 

-Lauren

Global Experience Belgium!

From June 30 – July 14 I took part in the Alcohol and Beverage Capstone Project at the Artevelde University College in Ghent, Belgium.

This project was to create a marketing strategy for Ærø Brewery located in Denmark to enter successfully in Belgium’s Alcohol and Beverage market.

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The program was a mix of Denmark, Belgium and Canadian students using all of our different educational backgrounds to apply it to marketing to make this organic beer line succeed in Belgium.

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I started to learn that Belgium looked at beer as a culture and they enjoyed local beer products. There were many different types of beers to taste and we got the opportunity to see how beer was produced from Dorval, De Halve Maan, Gruut (local breweries). A small group of students had an opportunity to visit the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam.764aea3d-83da-4294-abcf-ec9a90be763e

 

 

I loved seeing how beer was more to individuals than just being a liquor, but rather, it brought people together given the fact that it was allowed and sold everywhere. I loved how beer had so many different types to enjoy and was loved by everyone differently. In the midst of learning about beer in Belgium, I also got to know the students better that were on the trip as the week progressed. The trip was filled with diverse students from different part of the world which made the trip more inviting to learn about different cultures and ethics.

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I left with two favourite things Duvel beer and Bitterballen.

 

 

I would like to thank Centennial College Sage department for giving students the opportunity to interview and be selected for a journey to change their global understanding and be able to grow the students skillset.  I had a wonderful time in Belgium and truly believe international experience is an asset to any individual living in a diverse community and wanting to become part of a worldwide business network.

Ghent

Written by: Maegan. S 
The Business School - Business Administration- Entrepreneurship

China-FLIP-2018

moonThe experience of the trip has started in the plane as it has taken us 14 hours to arrive. Each hour was passing, I felt that it was talking about the differentiation and the new things that we’re going to experience, such as, food, culture, society, language, Shops, tourist places, social media, technology, and the business companies that we visited it.

 

IMG_0396On the second day, we went to meet with the other members of Centennial College in Suzhou greeting us with a warm welcome. We saw a show of a nice unusual opera that they create it, dance and song between man and women, dressed in costume for a masquerade.

Then we meet with our Chinese buddies to share information about the country, know more about young people in China and share some Chinese food at the lunchtime together. Also, we had some lectures in Centennial College by Chinese instructors explaining Chinese society, and the accelerated development in term of technology and business in China.

The next following days were more excited and enjoyable when we start interacting more with the natural and traditional things in China. We went to two different parks, museum, traditional shops, Suzhou Centre, expiation, restaurants, museum, and the Tower.

We also went into the Orient Pearl Tower (468 m) and have pictures of the city from its glasses floor. Indeed, the view in front of the tower in Shanghai at night with the lighten building, that change in colours, and the colourful modern ship crossing the dark lake at the night, and the moon in the sky this moment was the time when we can say that “A picture tells a thousand words”. We were exploring that from the restaurant as it is the best place to have an enjoyable dinner beside this view.

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Suzhou Shop Centre was an enormous building designed in an attractive way. There were the longest electronic stairs that cross over two floors. The shop centre has 168 restaurants that were full of people more than the shops itself.

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The traditional old building with a roof made of stone with four high sharp sides on each level that looks as lofty, surrounded with green and colourful grass and flowers it was all picturesque.

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In addition, the traditional shops in Shanghai have special pieces of arts and new useful products that people would love to own one of them at least.

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Also, the museum in the tower that comprises an exhibition of large natural pictures and it shows wax replica people at work, house, and in court.

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The Industrial Suzhou Park was a new incredible experience to see.

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They illustrate their information about the country developing stage and forecasting statistics for the future of the industry, business, and technology. All that was shown on maps made of 3D modeling provided with a special design and light to make it remarkable. One of the things that they have done is that they had illustrated Suzhou map by building small different buildings on the floor with the same design as it is in the reality. A person was explaining about each part of the city and each specific part will radiate with colorful lights while his explaining about it.

mmexport1525475762565 (2)As China is a combination of historical and modern cities, we visited the Humble Administration Garden which has a history of over 1000 years.

mmexport1525616152457On the day that we were traveling back, we rode in the express train on the speed of 300km per one second. Where the place that will take 20 minutes to arrive at, it will take just 3 minutes on this train!

Furthermore, the ten different companies that we luckily visited it.

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Black & Dakar and Samsung where both are smart manufacturing companies that integrate the power and the intelligence of people and machines together to achieve its massive production goals. For example, it was incredible to believe that Samsung Company produces 1000 laptops per day where each laptop will take them just in 3 minutes to produce!

CCBC, and Government of Canada that both had provided us with more information about the market, export, import, and some business rules for an international company interring its business in China.

Naked Hub, which is a sharing co-working space, shared by business members and entrepreneur. People can meet with them to discuss their business to reduce the risk while interring the market in China.

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We also visited the famous W hotel that is made of luxury materials such as the colorful velvet, and the silk walls. Adding to its high service to customers with all the facilities and the outstanding overlooking of Suzhou lake and shop center.

Another organization was Shoutout. It is an event planning company that tries to maximize the inventory in the city. It gathers people and invites celebrities to promote different new brands and small business in China to support them.

In Fashion Shard Company, they explain to us more about the social media that is different from ours. People rely on social media and do everything on some apps such as WeChat, that has more than 500 million followers, Weibo, and Alibaba where people can book their plane, restaurant, pay their payment to the bank, connect with other and see the news and the pictures of the celebrities, so they can dress and eat the same thing as them and show their friends proudly.

TongZhou, that sells their products on Amazon. We had to choose a product from them and explain it in our own words to help them sell it on Amazon with short and efficient way.

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Hong Country Embroidery Company which produce fancy silk cloth with a unique design made accurately and efficiency.
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Visiting those companies have added an effective value to our trip. Learning from them some new comprehensible in term of business in China which was all beneficial to know especially for a new company entering the market in China.

Before the last day, we had to submit our reports and do our presentation about a Canadian company that each group has chosen to analyze all the factors, SWOT, the 4Ps related to this company while interring the market in China.

Thanks to all of the facilities from Centennial College in Canada and in China providing us with a great service to enjoy the trip. Also, thanks to our professors Linda and Justin supporting us there. I am also grateful to Centennial College giving me this great opportunity to visit China and experience new things.

Written by: Noushein D. Shirazi

#I am in love with DR-Banana#

I was shocked with the  taste and authenticity of Puerto Plata Bananas . Last six months  in Canada I was having only mechanized and processed artificial Bananas .I felt almost like the length, breadth and size of this bananas  is preplanned before it comes in Canadian market .The bananas in the capitalist countries is genetically modified  (GMO) which are intended to stay longer with all kinds of preservatives . In the case of Puerto Plata ,Which is unexposed to the MNCs and Giant Players is still having the banana in the way God has created . Mostly in Super markets of Canada we get Bananas which has sticker or seal on it which is not from the banana tree . Which essentially means these bananas are well processed with chemicals . Here in Puerto Plata , we can have organic banana which is  not having seal or sticker but having all the nutrients and vitamins.  I love to see more organic bananas from Dominican republic  reaching out to different parts of the world which can gradually reduce the consumption of mechanized Bananas. #Jofin T Lorance # The Banana Boy

FLIP China – Suzhou 2018

May 03rd, 2018, day one….The learning experience was starting.  In our first day, I had the opportunity to watch the Suzhou traditional opera called Kunqu Opera.  This traditional kind of art was performed by the Centennial Suzhou professor and his student.

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In our second day, we visited Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). This place is an exhibition of the technology and industrial development in Suzhou in the last 25 years.  Suzhou Industrial Park shows how have been developing the city, and what are the main goals for Suzhou. SIP is the place where investors can see how Suzhou is right now, and how will be its future.

Another place we visited was the Hong Couture Embroidery Home, in this place we listened to a presentation from the owner´s daughter.  In this presentation, she explained to us what embroidery is, what their target is, and she spoke about the embroidery school that they also have.  We had a practical experience in embroidery.  We learned from firsthand how to embroider, and also we had some practice.

Suzhou is a beautiful, and have some traditional places.  In our adventure to discover Suzhou we visited the Humboldt Administrations Gardens, those gardens are more than 600 years old.  In this place, I felt like a movie, with stunning landscapes, beautiful views, and too many people enjoyed it.

The Flip trip goal was how to do business in China, so our itinerary was prepared for this. In that 15 days, we had time to visit some companies that help us to achieve this goal.  One of those companies was Canada China Business Council.  The council made an amazing and complete presentation, where we can see the main steps to do business in China, and what are the keys to startup.  We had an overview of what are the regulations that investors face when they try to enter the Chinese market.  This visit was so productive for us, and we can take a lot of information about our project.

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Another company was Naked hub, this is a company that shares workspaces with different companies, small business, entrepreneurs, and small startups.  They offer all that companies need about spaces and facilities.  It is a very workplace to work, friendly and wide spaces.  Companies can rent the spaces for a couple of hours or a year.  They have an app where they posted information about availabilities and event that they have.

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The amazing Flip trip team made an appointment to visit Black & Decker and Samsung.  Those companies are astonishing.  They have an awesome production line, and they also are the smart factory. We can see in the firsthand how technology and human interaction created a perfect product in just a couple of minutes.  Black & Decker work mainly for the North American market because in China they do not have high demand.

In our practice activity, we work with Tongzhou. This is a company that sells lunch bag in Amazon for North American customers.  Their CEO made a presentation for us where he showed what is the company mission, vision, and goals.  Also, he asked for help.  He gave to us an assignment about rewrite some of their Amazon publication.  The objective for this assignment was to make the publications more attractive according to the North American customers. We had the chance to work together with Chinese people, and bring some advice for them.

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Before finish our Flip, we went together with the hospitality team at W hotel.  This is a five starts hotel. It is luxury, fancy, and stunning hotel.  In this experiences, we can learn about hospitality, and how details are so important to make a profitable business.  The concept that they have is amazing. They are working to make very good experiences for the guests, different styles, and needs.

In our last weekend in China, we had the opportunity to visit Shanghai as tourists.  We met some places as Yu Garden & Bazar, The Bund, Shanghai Maglev train, and the Oriental Pearl Tower. The last one was an awesome experience for me.  To walk on the glass floor was unbelieve, and unforgettable times.

Closing our trip, we made an entry market presentation.  In this presentation, we present one Canadian company to start the business in Chinese market.  We can take our knowledge about the Chinese market and their regulations, and take all of that information to create a plan on how to start the business in China.  Canadian companies like Tim Hortons, Canada goose, and Saputo took part in those presentations where Chinese student can see what each of those companies need to do to enter the Chinese Market.  What will be their partner, in which cities of China they are starting, how will be possible Chinese accept our proposal?  We had the chance to learn in real life how to do business in China, and how to put into practice that knowledge and combine them with our program.  Thanks, SAGE and Centennial College for this amazing learning experience.  Centennial students take advantages about this kind of program and go for it…..

Jennerys Gonzalez – Flip China -Suzhou 2018.

 

FLIP – Dominican Republic Experience (Part 3)

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
DAYS FIVE, SIX, SEVEN AND EIGHT
From scraps to something beautiful. A bunch of lovely, vibrant, energetic young ladies made it their pleasure to invite us into​n their homes and literarily their homes, we tore up discarded papers, washed it in a machine, blended for purity, then made into brand new paper for books, necklaces, rings etc. which they sell to visitors who take advantage of this tour, the prices are very reasonable and for a community asset based experience that revolves around the community, creating employment for the community members (one who lives over the river, who travels by boat every day to get to work). Walking through a “BARRIO” “Ghetto” as we may call it, was exciting, it reminded us of the gifts that we have and must cherish. We saw a baseball field that many of these children use for their enhancement of the baseball skills, Baseball is the most profitable, popular sport here on the Island. Many local youths have become popular through this sport. We saw small houses, un-employed persons just sitting at home and some very idle hands that may not be useful due to many reasons surrounding their situations.

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Growing chocolate YUMMMMMM. Eating the natural real fresh coco plant was awesome, even Hassan made good use of the entire plant!!!! I left my mark on mother nature as I planted a tree so within the next 3 years I will return to reap my fruits of my labour. This tour is operated by UMPC Guananico and is certified by Turisopp, the local Tourisim Ministry and this tour is also a part of the community and its mandate. Volunteers like Felix, lives in the community and spends most of his time with tis valuable community development experience. It has clear family connections which makes it stronger and viable. And if planting a tree, eating a scrumptious lunch, getting a coco facial service was not enough then we had to go dance up a storm….MERENGUE. hips were oved, legs were twirled, oh YEAH. This additional tour of Dominican’s history is again done under the umbrella of the community, the contributions are endless, hence making members own their history will make history!!!!
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Happier times after MERENGUE.
DIAMONDS are a girl’s best friend but after that trip to the AMBER MINES, we want no more diamonds. Amber is the way to go. Open back truck, fresh air, waving to natives, holding the sun in our hands, looking at God’s creation through the lenses of mother nature and just taking in the serenity of the countryside was a breath of fresh air, as we made it to the Amber Mines. Short but sweet visit. This tour had started out as an active experience, however as time elapsed it has dwindled into a less attended experience, reasons surrounding this experience varies. Bad roads, long journey (Even though it was very refreshing and community oriented), unsafe mines, and some amount of neglect are visual indicators of the low attendance. Our presence was needed as we did continuous evaluations on all these community-based experiences. So again, Thank you Centennial College and all other stakeholders on this mission.
Embarking upon the final days ahead we became celebrities. Just take a look!!!!!, we met with Senor Juan Pablo, who gave us an in-dept look and well explained presentation on all those experiences we experienced, and how they came about, how we must use the different eyes, hands to make the community stands out, the inclusion of the members in every community and the heart of what community-based assets are and they do for everyone. Adventure called. Damagua falls, 27 waterfalls, can you believe it, all of 27 waterfalls in one location (however we did 7). The adventure was awesome, sliding, gliding, jumping and just splashing in God’s creation, no artificial inseminations. This tour is one of the most popular tour for the cruise ship passengers and this too started out as a small community-based experience.

The last supper!!!!!!Playa Cabarete, was our final night destination, eating fish, lobsters, burgers and shrimps, then we hit the dance floor. Dance we did. Dominicans had noting on us!!!!

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Spending our last moments with one key individual was not to be missed. Juanin’s mountain tour made the trip a worthwhile experience, a long but rejuvenated walk to two most breath-taking waterfalls was worth the walk. This tour is tied to the Coffee experience, and it provides employment for the operator Juanin and his family, as sometimes his nephew and his brother tags along with him. He told us of the benefits of this tour, as for the community and who benefits, the land owner who gives and charges them to walk through the land, the host of the tour and the coffee host. This is a small tour but the community is well a part of it.

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THANK YOU, CENTENNIAL COLLEGE, FOR THIS FIRST-HAND CONNECTION TO WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED AND WHAT WE WILL BE EXPERIENCING IN THE FUTURE……!!!!!

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Departing Moments at the Lodge. Thanks Tim and the crew!!!!!

FLIP; Dominican Republic Experience (Part 2)

DAYS ONE, TWO, THREE AND FOUR

We landed in Puerta Plata/Dominican Republic on the last inbound aircraft in La Aeropuerto, on route to our lovely Eco-Lodge in the serene hills of Tubagua. The immense culture shock was felt in a profound way. Rustic, natural, open, sentimentally attached bungalows were our home. Not many amenities we were used to back in the suburbs or back in the city, but still we were captured by the atmosphere.
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February 25, breakfast (fresh fruits, scrambled eggs, sausages and fresh toast), then a coaster (15 seater) bus emerged for us to live the day in the life of a tourist. Just a peek into the day’s activities: one of the most amazing, breath-taking, exhilarating, well-maintained​ tours here in Puerta Plata was called the Cable Car (aka. El Teleferico) tour, which is located on the mountain of “Isabel de la Torres”. That left us speechless. Touring the city of Puerta Plata was a reminder of back home (Jamaica). This city has all that is needed to survive in a thriving country. The newly refurbished, open, free, accessible zone on the waterfront boulevard called La Puntia (an old fort built by Columbus) was just another prime example of giving power to the people. This park hosts a gigantic dome, play area overlooking the ocean and an old fort that has so much history (sad, but owned by the people) behind it. The day’s activities culminated at the Sosua Beach, which is described as the heartbeat​ of the city; the active, fun mecca of Puerta Plata, a beach (playa) designated for tourists and locals alike.

 

 

Caves we discovered!!!!
When we speak of community-based assets and how community members own them, then we speak of what’s developing now in Puerto Plata. Listening to a refreshing, enlightening explanation of how many of those excursions came to fruition by Senor Juan Pablo, Director of the Chamber of Commerce for the province of Puerto Plata. In his elaborate presentation, we were engulfed in how the formation of groups, organizations, and community leaders that have shaped community development projects and products such as: Rincon Caliente and Hacienda Cufa among others. We were educated by Dominican’s elite. This educational value cannot be bought.

 

 

Ingles professor y professora’s we became, teaching our native tongue and learning or for me brushing up on my Espanol, was the order of the morning. In an open truck,​ we travelled down the countrysides​ to this well-organized Escuela (School), well behaved (Students) estudiantes. Bueno estudiantes.!!!!!! A part of our learning experience was to ensure sustainable learning was imparted, and impart we did with a lot of fun!!!!!!, meeting up with two of Centennial’s best SSW students, who are currently in the ​Dominican Republic carrying out their mandate of creating sustainable, beneficial projects for the community of Tubagua.

Day three, in the classroom again, as our well-spoken guest speaker Mrs​. Amber Ahus-DeAbbot, told us on the many contributions that her company FATHOM has made and is continuing to make to the sustainability of community-based assets. FATHOM which once operated an exclusive cruise for community-based excursions directly impacting the communities, due to challenges which we will face in our future endeavours, had to abandon ship!!! FATHOM is still in the business of creating projects that are not dependent on any particular company/organization for its survival. HATS off to Amber and her Carnival Cruise Lines Company. One of their projects that they oversee is the Coffee tour right there in Tubagua, where guests are able to experience coffee at its finest. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE, “from the ​ground to the tree and from the tree to the cup!!!!!!. One of FATHOM’S babies!!, that they maintain and continue to nurture.

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We had our class moments, completing Reflections, blogs and evaluations amidst all the experiences.!!!!!

FLIP ; Dominica Republic Experience 2018 (Part 1)

Hola/ Hi everyone, come with me on this reflective journey as I share my first-day experience in the Dominica Republic FLIP 2018. We arrived at the Eco-lodge in the hills of Tubagua, it was the most natural place I have ever been in my whole life with a beautiful breath-taking view.

The day begins with breakfast: fresh fruits, homemade granola, yogurt, eggs, sausage, and toast. Next is our coastal drive in the town of Puerto Plata where Alexis, our amazing tour guide, shared short enlightening anecdotes of the country’s history with us along the way. First stop was the cable car ride in Puerto Plata, this service fully funded by the government 60% of this profit given back to the community and 40% use to pay staff and maintenance. The day was full of awe-inspiring moments, but one of the most highlighting moments for me was the cable car ride up to the mountain of Isabella de la Torres. Why? This mountain is about 2,225 ft high, yes!!!!!! It’s that high. In my opinion, it was a frightening and exciting moment all at once for most of us including myself. However, once we arrived at the top of the mountain all that changed as we disembarked from the car and started taking pictures of the beauty in sight. The atmosphere was welcoming both by local vendors and local peoples. The use of local goods and services was fully evident they use the local resources to create some form of short/ long term employment by building on their natural resources. For example, we bought from the local vendors stalls souvenirs such as jewelry made from local material called larimar a rare blue stone found only in the Dominica Republic. We then made our way down the trail stopped at a cave (yes ppl a cave),  which appears to have been there since the time of the Tainos.  I would say my day was a full course meal and i enjoyed every moment. multiple stops between but this is just a taste for you.

I went to China, and it changed my life

 

I mean, it really did. And I’ve been back for over a month (or 2) now and have spent most of that time trying to figure out how to put a life changing experience into words. Starting from the beginning is always good, which in the beginning of this journey I almost didn’t apply. One of my professors passed along a message to my classmate saying he thought we would both be awesome candidates for this opportunity. I was flattered. Ok I was anxious first, then nervous, then flattered. I’m a mature student with 2 little ones and I’d never spent 2 weeks (the duration of the FLIP) away from them. It wasn’t an exciting thought. Then the typical anxieties came flooding in like what if I don’t like it? The flight is so long!! What am I going to eat there?? It went on like this for sometime, until on the deadline day for the application I decided to go for it with hours to spare. We can fast forward all the red tape up to the fact that I went and it was amazing!

As a hospitality student and lover, I was so impressed and pleased with how we were treated. From the moment we landed and were introduced to our student friends and professors, they were the definition of hospitable. They wouldn’t even let us carry our own luggage! The very first night there we were taken out to the most amazing dinner. This was probably first “I’m not in Toronto anymore” moment because they only had chopsticks to eat with and I was so hungry, I had no choice but to learn. And the food was amazing! Only one of many amazing meals I would experience.

Suzhou is a beautiful place, both during the day and at night. A modern city that’s always busy. That made me feel more at home. Where we stayed was a place called the education town which is basically an area filled with colleges and universities from around the world, apartments and little plazas and grocery stores. There were always students buzzing around buying coffee and breakfast to get to class or buying dinner to go home and study with. I instantly felt at ease being here, any anxieties I felt before the trip were gone. Of course there were cultural differences, we had to squat to use most public toilets (a lot easier than I thought it would be!), and there was an obvious language barrier. But none of these things made our trip difficult, in fact I enjoyed all the new experiences and being outside of my comfort zone.

Did I mention this was a culinary FLIP? I like to cook as much as I like to write an essay (not very much) but Chef Feng made it easy, enjoyable and loveable. They only use one knife in Chinese cooking, a cleaver, and while it takes some getting used to, it is much easier than switching out knives all the time. They also only use a wok to cook every part of the meal in. The meat/fish, the rice, the veggies everything! After each part is done the wok gets a quick rinse and it’s on to the next. My fondest memory would have to be that by the end of the trip we had memorized Chef’s go to seasoning for every dish we made: Salt, pepper, little sugar, little MSG (still a huge part of Chinese cuisine), little Chinese cooking wine/vinegar. Like clock work, we would add this combination to every meal. Some of my most memorable moments were spent in the kitchen learning new things and jumping out of my comfort zone.

Other memorable times were the time spent in the classroom with our amazing teacher Lissy learning about Chinese culture. Every thing about their history and way of life is based off of their rich history. Every holiday has a deeply touching story, stories about love, respect and happiness. We created a presentation all about Canada, lead by myself, some other students and our teacher Wenli. We taught everyone about our own culture, history, we even passed around some of our coloured money (their money is still paper and all one colour there) It ended with a game to test their listening skills which everyone loved! On our day off, we took a trip to the beautiful Shanghai by local subway and speed train. Shanghai is one of the most stunning places I’ve seen, reminding me of Toronto or New York City. And finally, at the end of my trip, it was my birthday and to get to celebrate it with new friends both from home and abroad, made it one of my most unforgettable yet.

The last night in Suzhou was the best by far. We had the chance to talk about our experiences on this trip, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We cried and cried, so moved and forever changed by these short two weeks. I cannot thank Chef Sam, Wenli, and the SAGE team for giving me the opportunity to take this trip. Enjoy a small fraction of some of the pictures we took on this trip. It truly changed me and I will forever be grateful. If you ever have a chance to visit China, do it! Your heart and your stomach will be better from it.

All photo creds go to my picture goddess Julie Miguel http://www.juliemiguel.com. She also made a blog post about China, so head on over to check it out!

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Renee Tingle