GCELE Kenya 2019 – 14 days – Lives Transformed.

GCELE Kenya 

(We invite you to read, ponder and feel free to comment and share this blog with others. For more information on how you can be a change advocator or learn more about evolving in your understanding and opportunity as a Global Citizenship, please visit Centennial College Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion.)

We chose to construct this blog as a team where individuals shared daily reflections and in turn transformed 13 individual posts into one to share our experiences more holistically. Our hope is that not only will you glean insights from our experiences but also be challenged to support and use the privilege and influences that we have as individuals and a collective society to create meaningful and impactful change.

Kenya, a land of kindness. A place where wildlife and humans co-exist respectfully. A nation where the people are so vast and diverse yet celebrate their cooperative society by embodying what it means to make sure the past is honoured, the present is celebrated, and the future preserved. A land where the world should learn from ways that blend the advanced and the simple to create sustainable systems.

We were fortunate to have been allowed to attend as a group of 13 inspired and heart-directed representatives from across the college (ten students and 3 Faculty members) for ten days in Kenya through Centennial College and the visionary Global Citizenship office. A college where Global Citizenship and Social Justice is at the forefront of the academic experience and where donors come together selflessly to provide transformative experiences for the college community through different initiatives. A college where the focus is on offering the highest level of education but with a realization that learning the curriculum is only one essential aspect of creating change. Providing strategically crafted experiences guarantees that in our own way, assumptions can be broken down, divides solidified into a strong movement, minds shifted and the theoretical transformed into the applied.

These 14 days were an intense blend of collaborating with teachers and students at the Mitero primary school as well as sitting in the quiet strength and presence of a 90 plus-year-old Momma, whose mind is as alert as if she was still 15 years old and carries an immeasurable physical power and reminds us that storytelling is a conduit to understanding the past and how it impacts the future. Nightly reflections under an uncountable amount of stars and constellations break down our assumptions, perceptions’ and stereotypes while educating and challenging our learning under the limitless sky around the bonfire. Experiences that remind us that privilege is fluid and it is what we do with our privilege that is most relevant and influential. The honour of listening and breathing in the stories, challenges and vision of two different Woman’s Camps that work from a ground roots effort to create actual change and understanding and a 5-hour walk into the beauty and vulnerability of the Ngare Ndare Endangered forest/conversancy. 14 days is not enough for us to create massive change no matter how hard we contributed through our collaboration – in fact, it is a gift that is given to us to learn and grow a seed in our minds.

We heard a perfect quote from one of the managers at a Nursery where they grow exotic and indigenous plants, trees and flowers that they will sell to the community to create future growth. A place where if you buy 10 plants/flowers/trees – they will automatically plant 10 more for free. WHY? It’s a selfless, practical and visionary way to provide value and continuous rebirth to the community, earth and the future.

This gentleman said, ‘planting is not the key to true life; growth is.’ What he reminded us was that if we want to see permanent change – we cannot ‘plant’ something and walk away. We need to grow it – through unconditional love, intelligence, commitment, hard work, curiosity, kindness, attention and respect. This trip has done this. The long-term results of the growth will be determined through each of the individuals that were selected to be part of this experience. However; we feel confident that change has happened and like a butterfly, the transformation will be stunningly convincing.


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In the words of the students….

April 29, 2019 (Reflection #1) Silvio Santos

Our first full day! We went to the elephant orphanage in the morning and could see an organization involved in taking care of and preparing baby elephants to go back to nature. We saw them having milk with a gigantic baby bottle, eating tree branches and even touch them before heading to our first camp on the border of Ol Pejata Conservancy.

April 29, 2019, Kaitlyn Popert (Reflection #2) (Program – Social Service Worker Diploma Program)

We started our first full day in Kenya with a trip to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage just outside of Nairobi. This was by far one of the best experiences for me since it has always been a dream of mine to experience the endless energy and joy that baby elephants offer. Everything we experienced after this was just a bonus. My favourite part about this day was hearing the journey these orphaned elephants have gone through, from being rescued to rehabilitation and being released back into the wild. The dedication and love the caretakers provided was reflected in the way the elephants engaged with them and the visitors. I would visit this amazing place again and again.

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April 30, 2019 – Ukweli Wilson Reflection #1 (Program – Bachelors of Public Relations Management)

The Art of Perseverance

I really am so grateful at this moment. Firstly, I’ll start by saying that God really does have a sense of humour. A couple weeks ago, I remember specifically praying and asking to be more efficient when completing tasks and just generally getting into the habit of persevering through difficult circumstances; too many times I find myself being intimidated by daunting situations which often results in me giving up. Added to this however is my general contempt towards physical activities and pursuits which I view as more of a mental challenge than the physical one at hand- more often than not, I give up mentally before even attempting, and this too was something I wanted to work on personally.

Today was our first official day of work at Mitero Primary School. Initially, we thought the school was about a 5-minute walk from our camp, but it turned out that it was actually a different school we’d be going to that this one was about a 45-minute walk away! Needless to say, my first morning going to school was a challenge! (I would also learn to appreciate and welcome that word “challenge” more as the trip progressed.) The walk to the school could be defined by two main factors; extreme heat and length. Some parts of the journey saved us by providing shady forestry which allowed for us to cool down, just before embarking on another set of equator-temperature sun. With this being our first time making this trek, it definitely seemed more challenging- we were unsure of our exact destination and had no clear end in sight. But on we went- and what a treat was in store for our day ahead!

Upon our arrival at the school, the student’s break time came soon after. When the students saw us in the courtyard, the whole school came running out of class and towards us, swarming all around. It really was quite a moment. One little girl in particular by the name of Ann stuck by my side for the entire break. Playing with the students of Mitero after completing a very challenging walk for me was the icing on the cake. The day in itself provided so many personal victories. Even though I initially felt very overwhelmed by the day, having accomplished those few challenges gave me a feeling of hope which I took with me throughout the remainder of the trip. Would you believe I woke up the next day looking forward to the walk, and believe it or not, I gained new perspectives of the scenery and land we crossed with each journey I took?

Whenever faced with a difficulty or challenge now, I first ensure that my mentality is positive. With that, persevering through anything comes so much more easily! I’m thankful for that very challenging day which preceded and set the tone for the rest of our time in Kenya. What an experience!

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May 1st, 2019 – Tommy Lu (Program – Bachelor of Science in Nursing Collaborative Nursing Degree.

 It is only the third day in Kenya and I can already say this trip is something I will treasure and cherish in my heart. May 1st is our second day with Mitero primary school however it is also Labour Day in Kenya, meaning no classes. Despite the fact that there was no school, we still had the delightful experience of playing with a few students that decided to come along! What surprised me the most was the fact that Samuel, the father of two of the students, took time out of his day to come help and talk with us. His work habits and dedication is truly an inspiration to many who had the pleasure of being able to interact with him.

During our discussion with the teachers of Mitero, they talked about how parents are usually supportive of their children going to school however their impact on the school remains neutral. Samuel, however, is an excellent example of a positive contribution to Mitero. All the work he does for the school is unpaid for, meaning he is offering his time in order to give the students of Mitero a better environment for education. He is someone who truly believes that education is important and acknowledges that it is crucial for children to be educated and pursue a future that differs from that of the traditional lifestyle that many Kenyan children are still used to.

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May 2, 2019 – Abdalla Ali (Program – Truck and Coach Technician Diploma)

My day on the 2nd of May started off like no other, we had breakfast at the camp and headed to the school. What happened after lunch is what really got to me the most. While waiting for the meeting with the teachers, Natashia and I decided to go into a classroom that had no teacher after the students insisted that we come in and do something with them. The school had a limited number of teachers and that meant some classrooms had to wait for them to finish with others to get to them. While the students waited, they would take turns teaching the class on previous lessons. The students were very respectful, they stood up as we entered and greeted us with a welcome song and only sat down after we instructed them to do so. After some introductions, we started off with hangman and gave them easy words, but after a couple of the letters, they were already guessing big words. The level of intelligence they have was something that still amazes me, by the time we were doing harder words they were going through them like it was nothing. Their level of understanding and positive attitude towards learning is something that stood out to me. After the games, the students kept asking us questions and just wanted to learn more about us and where we came from. Their curiosity and hunger for knowledge reminded me of myself and how I always go out of my way to learn new things about my profession and personal interests. The students taught me to value the knowledge I have and never take for granted the resources I have access to here in Canada.

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Thank you Centennial College for this great experience.

So as today was our last day with the Mitero Kids, we were all ready to finish the last little bit of work there needs to be done. We had prepared a little song for the kids so they can sing along with us, and they shared their talents with us! We prepared the interactive Little Shark Song for them, which we ourselves enjoyed practicing. So as we reached the school we drank some water and continued to our designated work. As part of our project, our goal was to plant 100 trees and we were only a few behinds. Five of us continued to plant trees and today as we had more people we were able to dig more holes for the plants compared to the past few days. It was such an amazing experience planting trees and watering it once it’s done. The rest of our group continued with wall paintings (the talking walls on the outside of the school and educational pictures in the Kindergarten classroom.)

At the end of their school teacher and students welcomed is to the open around and they asked us to sit on the ground for some performance. Students from grade 7 started to dance and sing some songs for us. We all enjoyed every bit of it. And then Joyce (our amazing guide and partner from Rift Valley Adventures) went up and asked some academic questions and handed out prizes to the kids who answered it right following which came our part of the performance. We all gathered up at the front and started singing. The kids started to laugh and clap as the song was sung by our team. We improvised on the song a little bit and called in the school teachers to join is on the performance. In the end, we asked all the kids to join and it went so well and the happy part was, the kids loved the song. We all took a final pic together with all the students and teachers and our Centennial Team. It was a pleasure working and meeting the students. 🙂  It was such a nice and great learning experience for us and I was glad to be part of it.

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May 4, 2019 – Reflection #1 Abhishek Rajgor (Program – Construction Management)

After 4 days of overwhelming and beautiful experiences at the School, we had mixed feelings in terms of exploring newer activities of GCELE but also for not being able to be with the school kids. So the 7th day began with a relaxed morning schedule (which meant more sleep J), we were excited to explore the town of Nanyuki as it was our first instance of experiencing an urban environment in Kenya other than camp and the village we were at. The town was vivid in its own ways – from the colourful buildings to the sweet chaos of the marketplace, the town had everything to offer for a visual delight.

We strolled through the streets of the busiest areas of Nanyuki and were welcomed by locals at every corner with wide smiles & offering to visit their shops or stores.

It was indeed interesting to see how extremely contrasting the lives of people exist so closely in the town of Nanyuki which boasts almost all urban facilities and the small village of Mitero which struggles to get electricity on most days.

May 4, 2019 – Reflection #2 – The Wisdom of a Mama   

Today was a blend of the past, with a step into the future. Before heading into the urban town of Nanyuki, we walked to a nearby farm and was privileged to sit and listen in the presence of a 90 plus-year-old Mama. Her stories recounted experiences and lessons from her youth to the present day while she freely shared her wisdom and insights. Her small physical stature was overwhelmed by her quiet strength, eyes that have experienced many lessons and her joy and faith that she endeavours to pass on to future generations.

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May-5: Silvio Santos (Program – Program Management, Post-Graduate)

Safari day in Ol Pejeta. Time to see the animals in the reserve while having a lot of patience and maybe luck. The first animals to be seen were the impalas that were closed to some buffalos. Wild pigs with its big two teeth running, stopping eating grass, looking at the bus, running and stopping and so on. This animal had a short memory, it’s funny to observe it. Two charcoal were looking for eggs in a bird’s nest on the ground. Zebras with its unique stripes all over the body.

The reserve integrates agriculture with wildlife, there were around 40 cows with huge horns, a characteristic of Uganda cow type. I’m the night they are kept in a big cage so that they can be protected against lions. Cattle stays in the cage and will only go to eat grass in the reserve when they grow up enough to run away from lions. Lions usually don’t attack cows during the day because they prefer to avoid humans.

A family of three white rhinos (male, female and child) were spotted drinking water and defining territory by pooping. The reserve mission is to protect black rhinos and they’re doing a good job so far since in the 2000s the number of rhinos was 450 and nowadays is around 700. Poachers want the horns that are sold with a gram price higher than gold. It was believed that rhino horn powder would increase sexual performance, but nowadays it has been scientifically proofed it’s is a big mistake.

After lunch, we spotted a tower of giraffes when a ranger approached and told our bus driver the place where we could find two cheetahs. They were sleeping, but woke up, stared at us and slept again.

The day was fantastic so far, but it became perfect after we found a lioness and a lion – this closed our day with four of the five big animals. We couldn’t see Leopards (as they are not native to the conservancy) but it was great anyway.

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May 6 – 7, 2019 Nicole Umana – Project Management – Post Graduate Certificate

May 6th – Twala Maasai Village

By this point of the trip, we were already in the second half. We travelled for the most part of the day. Somewhere around 1 pm, we stopped to have lunch in the middle of what I called nowhere (probably somewhere for someone who knows the area) and ate lunch with the most amazing view.

We arrived at Twala, a space owned and managed by women of the Maasai Tribe. For the next two days, we were given the opportunity to camp there in order to learn more about how these women have grown as part of their tribe and the difficulties they have had to overcome to be respected as a part of a male dominant society.

For the rest of the day, we set up our tents, made dinner and reflected around the fire on life and career plans, which led us to a discussion about hard work, passion and the importance of self-thrive to succeed in life, no matter where you come from.

FUN FACT: In Africa, wildlife runs the business, so we had to fix our schedule for tomorrow because it seems like the elephants are hanging a little too close to the camp, making it unsafe for us to go start early in the morning for activities. In the city, how many times have you been late because of elephants?

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May 7th – Rosemary 

We woke up early and met Rosemary, the woman who started this community of woman. She told us a little bit about the start of the community and how the group has grown from 10 acres and 60 women up to 40 acres and 203 women currently.

This full-day was about learning how Maasai women go on with their responsibilities.

We had the opportunity to fetch water as they do daily. They dig a big hole on the ground under they find clear water, put into a container and carry it with their heads, backs and the help of a cord. Each container weighs about 40-50 pounds (according to our estimates) and they usually have to carry them for very long distances to get some water to their houses. When we tried to do it, we carried the containers for less than 1 km and ended up exhausted. This was an eye-opening experience on how usually we take for granted the ease with which we have access to some resources.

Later on, Rosemary showed us around the land where they have developed different activities, that have turned them into the major economic support for their families. This is incredibly important because it has empowered women all over the community and it has helped them fight against previous traditions of the tribe such as female mutilation and arranged marriages. Nowadays girls get to decide who they want to marry, which is completely amazing.

Finally, my favourite part of the day was when we had the chance to sing and dance with the women. They have such great spirits, they are warriors and they have accomplished so much by working together, that songs and dances seemed like the perfect way to close a day that filled me with awe and admiration of how powerful we can be when we decide to work together.

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May 8, 2019 – Katherine Armstrong (Program – Child and Youth Care)

Today began at the Maasai women’s community and was our last morning with them. We packed our bags and tents, shared our final breakfast with Rosemary and Cecilia, and thanked them for sharing their space and stories with us. We then headed out for our drive to the next camp, which was approx. a 2.5-hour drive. These long drives usually consisted of card games, music, and LOTS of jokes. Thankfully we had a few stops along the way – our first stop was at Cedar Mall, somewhere we stopped often for a bathroom break and some Java Coffee House milkshakes. Our second stop was to another Maasai village, which was where one of our guides, Francis, was from. We were welcomed with songs and dances and had the opportunity to ask the women questions. They’ve been a community for 3 years and were so kind to us – they even prepared lunch for us, consisting of rice, lentils, and cooked goat. For many of us, it was the first time we’d ever tried goat – literally, every day is a new experience. They took us around their community for a tour, where we saw how they prepare food and sterilize horns used to store milk. After that, we got on our way and left the village towards our final destination, which was only a short 30 min drive.

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May 9, 2019, Keisha Beattie (Program – Broadcasting for Film, Television, Digital Media, and Radio)

I cannot believe that we had to say goodbye to the place where we called home for two weeks. We began our day with a bushcraft lesson from Francis. To be honest, before today, I had never heard of the term bushcraft ever in my life. We essentially went into the bush with Francis and he taught us survival skills that the Maasai warriors use. The highlight of this bushcraft experience was learning how to start a fire using cow poop! The hardest part of the day came upon us where we had to say goodbye to everyone who we met at Rift Valley Adventures – Joyce, Francis, Dorito, Omari, Ritchie, and everyone else who was so gracious to us. Goodbyes are tough. Especially to those who have made such an impact on your life. I think what I’ll take away most from this whole experience is, the fact that everyone who we came across was just so kind and warm-hearted to all of us. The people who live in Kenya may have it tough, but not once did we ever come across anyone who was unaccepting of us. Everyone wanted to share their stories with us and ensure we had the best experience we possibly could. I’ll always remember this trip and the people of Kenya. I will return back to Toronto with a heart that’s so full of love and appreciation.

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We thank you for taking the time to read our blog and hope that it has inspired and entertained you! Wherever you may travel, may you be inspired to use your privilege, influence and joy to create positive and collaborative change through every encounter, in each moment?

With heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Centennial College, the Global Citizenship and SAGE teams, the donors and to Joyce and Rift Valley Adventures (our partner in Kenya) for memories and experiences that will impact for a lifetime.

Created by Silvio Santos, Kaitlyn Popert, Ukweli Wilson, Tommy Lu, Abdalla Ali, Abhishek Rajgor, Nicole Umana, Katherine Armstrong, Keisha Beattie, Vaaranan Jayakkumar, Brendan Chapman, Natashia Deer and Susan Chandy

GCELE Kenya Team 2019

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GCELE Kenya: An unforgettable experience.

The world is a big place and people love to see it in person. With all of the exotic locations that international travelling offers, it was surprising for my friends when I told them that I have chosen to apply for Kenya. Outside of that bubble you will find a proud cultural heritage, warm-hearted local people and incredible landscape that will stop you in the moment. National reserves, unforgettable safari, Maasai warrior and kids– these are the main things that I will always remember about my time in Kenya.

Finally, the day arrived when we all gathered at the airport before departure. I was feeling curious, excited, nervous and lonely. There were so many things going on in my mind at that moment. Most of us didn’t know each other before. Took a 15 hours in-air journey to reach Nairobi. Now, I was getting nervous and a little bit of helpless while wondering, how will I as a part of team would be able to contribute when I have never been part of such project before? We took 7 hours journey following day and reached our destination, Ol Pajeta Bush Camp, Laikipia region near a village names Nanyuki.

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

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.”


Written By: Jake G. Sirineo

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.


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.


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.


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.


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).

– Takise


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

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.  


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

– by H. Yurkiv