Forever Young

This past May, I, alongside eighteen other centennial Students travelled to Chinandega, Nicaragua to share what we know about health and hygiene. We ran many activities within the community we stayed in; however, I truly believe that the point of this trip was to become part of the community; which I feel we all did. Personally, I was quite attached to a girl named Tatyana, she reminded me of myself.


I can’t say that my life has ever been impacted in the way that it was by Tatyana. As soon as we locked eyes she ran over to me, grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the skipping rope; I could not remember the last time I had, had so much fun. At that point I knew that she had changed my life forever, I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time and I couldn’t explain why.

Since returning to Canada, I have realized that Tatyana –ten years my junior- had taught me something priceless, she taught me how to live. Without this Global Learning Experience, I would not be the same person I am currently.

Amanda Bissoon, RMT program

It’s NICA Time!!

Hola and what’s up guys! My name is Samia and I’m currently entering my second year at Centennial in the BScN program.

Flashback to May 5 2015, *ahem flashback ahem*, I was given the opportunity to travel to the land where rolling your Rs was the status quo, Tuesdays are a designated taco night,  and where the weather was…when I say hot, I mean HOT. HOT. HOT. Caliente!

Chinandega, Nicaragua.

Home to a culture so rich and views so scenic. Imagine having your breath taken away on a daily basis, not only from the views but from the people.

Our group of Centennial global citizens travelled a long way to participate in teaching health promotion through activities that catered throughout the lifespan. We set out everyday with different activities such as teaching sexual health in the local high school, hosting a cooking fair to teach the women in the community about food safety and cooking with purpose, and inviting the boys and girls in the community to promote leadership and self esteem. Everyday was nothing but amazing.

We all learnt different things but I think one of the biggest things we could take away from our experience was that, there are no boundaries to having a human connection.

We don’t speak Spanish. “Hola…*crickets crickets*”

They didn’t speak English.

But that doesn’t stop you from learning from and with someone. Every movement, every gesture, every laugh, and every smile taught us all about the community we joined. It soon became like home, waking up everyday and heading out to see our community.

And I must say, I don’t know how much they learned from a bunch of Centennial kids, but personally, and I think I can speak for our group, we definitely learned a lot more about them and ourselves.

Again sorry for the late post, what can i say….i’m still running on NICA time 😉

Be sure to read everyone else’s blog posts who joined me on this amazing adventure! Get the full scoop and maybe next year you guys can pick up where we left off.

peace x love

– Samia

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Finding A Voice and Becoming a Leader

It took me a while to find my voice in Nicaragua. In a group of 23 leaders, it was difficult to feel like I had a say or could sway an opinion. We had a few group members who were obviously born to be leaders; They had strong, confident and inclusive personalities that made everyone feel heard. I have always found that when no one is willing to step up and take a lead, I will happily take on the role. However, with so many people eager to fill that position, I was finding it hard to speak up. Throughout the week I began to remember that I was chosen to take part in this GCELE for a reason.  I grew more confident as the week went on, and began to feel more comfortable speaking up and working as a leader. I remembered that I am a good public speaker, and fortunately, I had plenty of opportunities to use that sIMG_5499kill on this trip. It was very rewarding to collaborate with all of the unique and inspiring personalities involved with this GCELE, and we all had a chance to merge as leaders throughout the week. Despite all of our different leadership styles, we worked together and taught our health initiatives successfully. Not only were we able to help a community, we were also able to grow as a group and as individuals.

– Amy Mepham, Nicaragua 2015

Team Nicaragua !!

I remember the few weeks leading up to my GCELE in Nicaragua. I felt anxious and excited. Meeting new people, working on lesson plans and trying to mentally prepare myself for the ten days I would be spending in a different country. Two days before the trip I remember feeling nervous and scared, not knowing what to expect, what difference we would be able to make and want to back out last minute. Stepping off the plane into the blazing heat, getting into the car and travelling four hours to Coco Loco Resort was tiring. I remember travelling through trees and branches on dirt roads, passing huts with no electricity, thinking to myself how different this place is. The next few days were definitely an adjustment for me. I had to get used to showering outside, using composting toilets and sleeping in a bed surrounded by a mosquito net. The first day out in the community was difficult. It was extremely challenging to communicate at first due to the language barrier. Speaking through a translator wasn’t always the easiest, but we still managed to connect with our class. Teaching sexual education to elementary school girls really opened my eyes as to how much these young girls value their education and how knowledgeable this community is. Terminating our relationship with them was difficult. I felt as if I became a part of their community and I was not ready to say goodbye. The Nicaraguan community was very welcoming and extremely grateful for our presence. I felt that I was able to share my knowledge and skills with these individuals, while at the same time learn from them. I had the opportunity to witness a community acting like one big family, working together and continuously smiling. We are so fortunate back home and
sometimes we take things for granted without even realizing it. The Nicaraguan community has very little but are happy with what they have. Their community has taught me to appreciate everything we have including the small things. I cannot wait to return to the community in the future.


Love Crosses Oceans – Julia Portaro, Waves of Hope, Nicaragua 2015

Nicaragua has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life that I will cherish with me for the rest of my life. I am so happy to have had the chance to take part in this amazing opportunity. I was able to educate the community and receive a deeper connection with the people of Nicaragua. I was blessed to have made great connections and relationships with many individuals. I will always remember the impact I had created in others but also the impact they had on me. I am able to picture the faces of the massage therapists when they were learning new techniques and learning business skills. I am also able to picture the faces of all the children whom were interested in the topics being taught to them like hand hygiene, oral hygiene, physical health and more. It is also such an amazing feeling to be able to imagine their faces every day of my life now here in Canada, of how happy everyone one was, how happy they were to learn, how happy they were to play and how happy everyone was to connect as a whole. I greatly admire Waves of Hope and El Coco Loco for their initiatives and their outstanding impact on the community. They made my experience very enjoyable and inspired me to continue mission work.GCELE (252) “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Listening with my eyes

I knew that going to a new country and communicating with a language barrier would be a challenge. I will admit that I was worried about it. How am I going to connect with them? How will we build a relationship if we don’t understand each other? I wasn’t too anxious about it, but these thoughts were certainly on the back of my mind.

To my surprise, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had imagined! We did have the help of translators when we were presenting health information to a group but for one on one things we often did it by ourselvesNicaragua. It was a very interesting and enlightening experience because for the first time in my life, I was listening with my eyes. People would explain their body aches and pains and instead of listening to the words they used, I was listening to how they told their story, when they used inflictions to emphasize a point, or when they used gestures to explain that something was important. I have always been a good listener but I have never consciously noticed how much people speak with their bodies. Through these expressions, gestures and varying tones of voice I was able to understand what was being said to me, as well as communicate back. By the end of the trip I had learned tons of techniques for communicating across a language barrier, and realized that I had nothing to worry about in the first place.

  • Amy Mepham, Nicaragua 2015

Major Spain Withdrawal!

It has been three days since I came back from my mini-Euro trip! This week has been all about catching up and getting everything together for school! But I would just like to take a moment to reflect on my beautiful experience in Spain…and other European countries as well. 🙂

Even before the trip started, I was already so excited to embark on another adventure. I was privileged to be part of the GCELE Nicaragua team last February and it completely changed my life! I promised myself that I would come back to Nicaragua to further take part in their development. I wanted to continue to help, and I really really wanted to learn how to speak Spanish. Fast forward a few months later, I found out about the GEO Culture and Language experience in Spain! I thought I was not even going to get this opportunity, but I applied anyway. So, I encourage everyone to just apply even if it seems like a longshot! It is too good of an opportunity!

1. The beauty of Pamplona, Spain

Pamplona is a precious city in my heart. It is rich in culture – famous for its Running of The Bulls event. But it is so much more than that, it is rich in history and beautiful people with great attitudes in life. The picture on the left is La Plaza de Castillo – where people just sit and relax and sometimes dance their traditional dance. On the right is myself overlooking the breathtaking Pamplona. I love how classy, peaceful and beautiful this city is!

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2. Universidad de Navarra

Every morning, I looked forward to going to Spanish classes. The teachers were very nice and helpful. Bea, mi maestra favorite, is such a funny teacher! I thoroughly enjoyed learning Spanish along with my fellow Centennial students as well. The cool thing was that there were also other people from all around the globe who were in the ILCE program. The campus is absolutely stunning and huge. Seeing the mountains and the nature every morning really made me admire the university so much more. Oh and their tortillas and chocolate croissants are muy muy muy delicioso!

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3. The group ❤

I think what really made the trip soo much fun for me is getting to venture to different places with a great group of people! Good times, good memories and good company! So glad to have met you all 🙂

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4. The trip after Spain

Also, I just want to thank Centennial for allowing me to extend my trip! I was also able to reunite with my family and see other countries and cultures through this amazing trip 🙂

vienna  france

barcelona2   copenhagen


Special shoutouts to Pearl and all the staff of the GEO office and all the sponsors who made this opportunity possible for us! You all have truly changed the way I look at the world and the beauty of culture.

From the bottom of my heart, GRACIAS!