My Peruvian Experience: Culturally Enriching and Personally Fulfilling

By Cindy Tieu (Peru: February 21, 2019 – March 3, 2019)

A map of the regions we stayed at: Illimo and Chiclayo in Lambayeque, and the Lima District

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


At the Ministry of Education on our very first day in Lima.
Photo by: Thanh Sang Huynh

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 employment.

In Lambayeque, we also had the opportunity to meet with the regional government. We acted as 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 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.

FLIP PERU 2019

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

Thank you – Kalaiselvi Vasudevan

Left my heart in Peru

IMG_0469

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”.

Thanh Sang Huynh – FLIP Peru 2019

Reflecting at the Airport

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.

Cindy (FLIP PERU, 2019)

Working at the Instituto de Educación Superior Tecnológico Publico (IESTP), Illimo.

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.

Cindy (FLIP PERU, 2019)

FLIP-Peru My Experience so far…

By Jenny San Juan

It’s been 5 days already in Peru. We spent 2 nights in Lima and then came to Chiclayo, another city in Peru where we are going to work helping develop premises, GMPs, SOPs for a educational food processing plant. People here are so warm, polite, welcome, and sweet. Undoubtedly, this is a great experience to get to know Peruvian culture and understand that we have more similarities than differences.

The professors of the IESTP Institute are so professional and very warm facilitators.

We did not imagine the scope that Centennial College had in Peru. I feel very proud of being a Centennial College student as I myself witnessed how hard Centennial College have worked and continue to work towards helping building a more focused and efficient education system based on the local community’s needs. Even more inspirational is to know that Centennial College participation in this type of projects had inspired other local and international institutions and organizations to take part on this project. The outcome? Well, more young local people with less resources, and otherwise not able to access superior education, are now on their way to college and building a professional career that will enhance their lives and their community in countless ways, and you can feel it when they look at us with grateful faces for us being here.

What an amazing experience!

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.

FLIP Peru, Pre-departure Excitement​

by Jenny San Juan

Only 24 hours before leaving Toronto for the exciting adventure that awaits in Illimo, Peru. I never thought that in my last semester of Food Science Technology I would have the opportunity to apply the acquired knowledge at Centennial College and even more at an international level.  Everything is almost packed up, and the expectations are only arising. There are no words to explain how grateful I am to be part of this journey that starts tomorrow.  It does feel amazing being a Centennial College student and have been given the opportunity to explore another country and on top of that learning and adding professional as well as academic experiences that in the future will be interesting stories to tell. Although I am excited, I am trying to keep my assumptions to the limit, so that everything in Peru will be surprising rather than upsetting for not fulfilling any unrealistic assumptions I could have.

I am super excited about what are we going to live and learn in Peru, and will ever be grateful for being part of this Global Experience.

Peru, off we go!