A “Stick”, a “Rock” and a “Take-away” A series of Reflective stories

So where do I begin…There are just so many elements of this global experience that have “stuck with me, rocked me and that I have definitely taken away with me.” When I consider the application process for the Kenya 2018 GCELE, I remember some of my written words – “rich heritage birthed out of the richness of Africa”; “life changing opportunity to assist in the development and delivery of education in rural Kenya”; “everyday cross-cultural interactions being real opportunities to begin actualizing our global responsibilities”; and “a witnessing of the transformation of our students through concrete experiential learning” – all these elements (and so much more) were realized via this GCELE.

The excitement of the long journey ahead could be scooped up at Pearson International Airport as the Project participants and Team Leaders arrived on Thursday February 22, 2018. As I watched each of us arrive, I could see the unspoken anticipation and wonder on everyone’s face. DSC_1148[1]Although late in the evening when we arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, that same look had turned to amazement, as we had finally reached the Mother Land! After a restful night (and a hot shower!) at the Wildebeest Eco Camp, located in the heart of Nairobi, it was here during breakfast that I had my first encounter with a gentleman named “Nigel Linacre”, the co-founder of an organization called “Wellboring” – whose mission is to bring clean water to more Kenyan Schools. As I listened to his unabashed, passionate account of the work his organization (of mostly volunteers!) and the impacts on the lives of the people of the villages and communities who worked in collaboration on these sustainable projects, I was totally blown away that it was not “happenstance” that Nigel and I encountered each other, but this was a powerful introduction to the experience this GCELE was to afford us. After soaking up the beautiful surroundings, serene sounds and heat that washed over us, we were off to our first stop – The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery located in Nairobi National Park, who provide a safe haven to orphaned baby elephants. “The Nursery provides the first stage in the hand-rearing and development of milk dependent baby elephants. Once they graduate from the Nursery, aged 2-3 years, the elephants move to one of the DSWT’s Reintegration Centres in Tsavo East National Park, from where they will ultimately return to the wild.” DSC_1178[1]To be this close to these majestic, wild animals and their caretakers (who knew each of the elephants by name and each of their personal characteristics) was awesome and I learned (more than I ever knew) so much about the natural life span of elephants in the wild and the incredible efforts being taken in the area of Conservation here in Kenya. We were also afforded a front rope view of an orphaned giraffe (quite a frisky one!). DSC_1181[1]After our experience at the Elephant Orphanage, it was back on the bus and on the road to our home (for the next 10 days) Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the region of Laikipia, outside of the town of Nanyuki…a 6-7 hour bus ride!!!! Good thing I brought a book…that I never opened, because the sights and sounds on the road to Ol Pejeta were jaw dropping.

And that’s another story:)

Angela Provo,
Professor, Early Childhood Education Program

Kenya 2018 GCELE

GCELE Kenya: Light

Written By: Jake G. Sirineo

It was 2 days after since we have arrived in Nairobi, Kenya when I first wrote in my journal about all the things that I have witnessed so far. It was approximately 11:00 AM in Kenya, 4:00 AM in Toronto on October 25th of 2016. I wrote about how we passed through the city using the highway and saw a mixture of infrastructure ranging from modern buildings to roofless vendors on the side of the road. It was rare to find paved sidewalks so you will frequently see people walking just about anywhere, including on the side of the 3-lane highways which we traveled on often. We arrived at our destination to adjust to the new environment, acclimatize (it was about 2000 m above sea level where we stayed), rest up to meet the kids the following day as I completed my first journal entry.

It was the morning of October 26th of 2016, the first day on our agenda to visit the school, when I woke up at approximately 7:00 AM not to the sounds of roosters, but to the sounds of wild African animals mingling to write on my journal about all the excitement that I felt to be finally waking up in Kenya for a volunteer trip. We repeated the wake-up-early-and-have-breakfast for 4 more days to build desks and bond with the children. We had the opportunity to teach the kids how to play Octopus and playing with them made me realize how slow I actually am at running. I also did not realize how much those 4 days would feel like such a workout, but I have never felt so rewarded to use tools and build desks just so that more students would be able to attend school. The days we spent with the kids came to an end and I reflected; as many games and short lessons we taught the children’s classes I learnt more from them than I have expected to. They utilized the simplest of objects and turned them into toys to play with and they would all play with one another like one big family. I have never met kids who had so little in material yet had so much heart along with the biggest smiles. I will definitely miss the kids, their positive energy, gratitude, and their leading example of what a community should be like.

It was the morning of November 4th, 2016 when I wrote my final journal entry before departing back to Canada the next morning. I recapped all the adventures that were experienced, lessons that were learned and how weird it was to say that we were finally going home. Like all good dreams we must wake up and have them come to an end but as I wrote in my journal and looked back at the time spent in Kenya; I feel nothing but immense love knowing how fortunate I was to have been a part of this adventure. From the 2 weeks spent in Kenya I have learnt so much about the country, the world, myself and how they are all just a funny reflection of one another. Apart from witnessing the indescribable beauty found in the footsteps taken on this journey, what I take most with me is the reality of injustices and how important it is to be a conscious and global citizen. I encountered gender inequalities, animal rights issues, poverty, but have also met with inspiring heroes and activists who will stand against the unjust to make a difference no matter how big or small.  I end my journal with a quote that Muhammad Ali once said, “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”

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GCELE Kenya Favorite Moments

Hi! My name is Takise, I am a forth semester Global Business Management International Student from Jamaica. I along with seven other students and three Centennial College faculty members had the opportunity to spend two glorious weeks in Kenya. This was all made possible through Centennial’s Global Citizen Equity Learning Experience (GCELE). This experience has definitely reinforced in me the importance of being appreciative of the things I’ve taken for granted; like the well-furnished classrooms and numerous resources we enjoy at Centennial College.

Let me take you through a few of my favorite moments on what I consider to be my best travel experience. They didn’t lie when they said this was a learning experience. We learnt a lot! Including a bit of the local language, Swahili.

Here is a photo of travel buddies (I’m third from left), and Joyce our wonderful guide to the far right. This trip wouldn’t be the same without her. It almost felt like she knew EVERYTHING and was ready to answer all our questions.

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Here we are wearing traditional Maasai attire with the women at the Twala Cultural Centre. This is the first all-female community. The community came into existence less than 20 years ago, because women wanted to be independent and generate income that would allow them to be good providers for their families. Initially they were underestimated and the men in their village thought they would never survive on their own (they proved them wrong). Today one of their income streams comes from supplying Lush Cosmetics with aloe which they grow.

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This is Rosemarie, she’s the founder of the Maasai women’s group. There is too much to say about the courage of this woman and how much she has done for women in Kenya. Not just her community but the entire country. She is the reason they no longer practice female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. Very inspiring woman, her struggles to gain equality for women is proof that we can all do more to help the less fortunate.

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Meet Sudan he’s the LAST male Northern White Rhino. He lives on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nanyuki, Kenya.  I imagine it would be a sad existence if my entire species was about to become extinct. Rhinos are killed by poachers for their horns which is a very valuable, but illegal “commodity”.  Learning about what’s happened to the Northern White Rhino’s has made me think twice about supporting companies that kill animals for purposes other than eating.

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AND the children! The most memorable part of this experience. They were so warm and welcoming. Though they didn’t have enough desks and chair they were so eager to learn, and learn they did. All the classes we visited had really bright and energetic students with big dreams of what they wanted their future to look like. We spent our morning at the Irura Primary School making desks and chair for the students. I can speak for everyone who went on this trip when I say this was a very rewarding feeling. Knowing that you have helped in a tangible way and seeing the appreciation on their faces. They taught us games and we did the same. I enjoyed their company and getting to know them individually. I hope to see them again.

Don’t forget to share and check out my next blog about my experience in Kenya there is so much more to share.

Asante Sana! (Thank you).

 

Serious decisions or how to realize the enormous scope of the experience you can get from GCELE

by H. Yurkiv

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take a break, run away from your problems, and travel all over the world? Meet new people, try new things, and enrich your knowledge? This is a very wishful change many people seek for when their life turns into routine. Not exceptionally I am one of them. In this entry, I would like to share an introductory story of the out-of-this world experience, that still gives me bittersweet guts, even after three weeks I’ve come back.

By a mere accident and luckily I happened to study in Centennial college that runs a GCELE program – an opportunity of indulging change I needed so much. Right away I obviously applied for this project, but neither did I take it seriously at that time, nor even when I went for an interview. I convinced myself that there are plenty of other smart people out there that will get in, you know? Yes, I need to stop thinking that way, I know.

I guess that based on paradoxical principles of this world, the less you expect from it, the more you get. So let’s be less eloquent and break that intrigue. Here I am, going on GCELE to Kenya. Such statement was shocking not only for me,  but for my dad too, who did not expect it to be such a faraway place from home. He hoped me to give up till the last moment by the way. I think dad does not realize that I got that persistence and stubbornness from him.

Honestly, no matter how bad I wanted to go on this trip, being a full-time nursing student already makes your life very tough, and realizing the amount of time I will have to invest to catch up on content that I am about to miss before I even go to Kenya made me feel doubts and anxiety many many times. At that time I really needed someone’s encouragement and support, but because I am such a lovely introvert, I can easily use fingers of my one hand to count people who knew that I am going somewhere. Yes, I already had self-management skills, because you cannot survive without that in nursing school, but there was no self-efficacy at all.

Universe had a mercy on me one more time, and I have finally heard those needed words, which ultimately were crucial.

“How many times in your life will you get a free trip to Kenya? That’s why you should go”.

Those words I heard were so simple, but yet so true, and I realized that surprisingly no one have told them to me up to this moment. And you know what? No matter how simply it sounds, I risked it all and went.

There is a saying in my culture that man who doesn’t take risk will not drink champagne later on. My champagne had the best taste in the world, and this I truly realize now (for some reason it takes me a long time to process really meaningful moments that I have experienced). I can confidently say that the outcome I got absolutely payed-off all that hardness I went through. It is definitely possible to get something if you really want it, just don’t forget that there has to be a balance. Saying that,  input must be equal to output. Miracles do happen, but don’t expect them to happen on a regular basis. The amount of work you put in determines the extent of your desire to get something. Therefore, work hard and you will get rewarded for that. Even though it sounds as a common sense, I hope this statement will be inspiring or encouraging for someone, whose struggles include, but are not limited to serious decision of stopping your routine for a second and taking some time for yourself to make this short life memorable.  

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Photo: Mount Kenya, Ol Pejeta Conservancy. November 2016.