They were house as pets

These creatures are called Cayman. They used to belong to somebody in their home. They were confiscated by authorities and donated to the University of TEC, Costa Rica. The students here are learning about these creatures as part of their program.  Also, the scars you see on their bodies are caused because of the conditions they were leaving in. (Hernando Tirado, Social Service Worker).

One Young World Summit 2016

By: Sunpreet Singh


Last month around these days, I was planning to go on a trip of a lifetime. Centennial College provided me with the opportunity to go and feed my hunger to be part of global event, the universally acclaimed One Young World Summit founded by David Jones and Kate Robertson. The first summit was held in 2012 by the leadership and guidance of Former President of Ireland, Mary Robertson, and after that has been an active Counselor for all the summits. One Young World  is the preeminent global forum for leaders aged 18-30. The not-for-profit organization hosts an annual Summit with 1,300 delegates from all 196 countries; drawn from businesses, universities, NGOs and other forward thinking organizations. The delegates are joined by One Young World Counselors — global luminaries who support the network of young leaders in their ambitious projects for change. Kofi Annan, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton have attended previous One Young World Summits as Counselors.

Opening Ceremonies

Being a One Young World Ambassador was no easy road for me, as being the lone representative for Centennial College required me to pass an interview which had all the potential candidates. Luckily and due to my good interview I was selected to represent my second home country Canada . I traveled to Ottawa through VIA train and reached the Hotel Delta on October 28th. Shortly after I reached my destination, the opening ceremony was held on the beautiful grounds of Parliament Hill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Speaks




The opening ceremony started with an orchestra by a NGO, Orkidstra. Then, all the Counselors arrived on stage and were welcomed by David and Kate. Finally, came the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Then the day ended with beautiful flag ceremony and small keynotes by Counselors preparing us for what is next in three days.



Here is the link to the speech of our Prime Minister:

The next day was full of plenary sessions, networking breaks and free Starbucks coffee! The three days focused on health, violent extremism, education, gender equality and economy. Amongst all these informative sessions, the things which left impressions on me are:

I learned that to change the world, we have to unite. As emerging leaders and the leaders of today in our communities, working alone is simply not an option.

1 – If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together
2015 Queen’s Young Leader award winner PJ Mandewa-Cole from Sierra Leone talked about his organization’s efforts in transforming the situation in the country and how by building a movement and leading people to join his mission really helped to super power his work.

2 – We need to bridge the gap between developing and developed nations

Listening to the way Mohammed Yunus has used social entrepreneurship and micro finance to transform livelihoods into sustainable entrepreneurship across Bangladesh inspired me. Developing parts of the world can adopt practices from other regions and the infrastructure and thought leaders from developed parts of the world can play a key part in injecting the inspiration, governance and leadership to help effectively build capacity on a global scale. We need cross-fertilization of ideas and talent between all corners of the world if we really want to unlock the key to equality in both participation of various groups and in economic development and opportunity creation.

Internal Breakout Session

3 – Cross-cutting partnerships are the way forward                                                        

Every sector, every country, every leader, has a piece of knowledge and experience which could be useful. I learned from breakout sessions at the conference that economic opportunities could be created for young people through effective collaborations between corporate foundations donating their employees’ time along with effective microfinance schemes, government backing and local leaders promoting opportunities. Who will be the leaders, the glue, the nucleus which joins such initiatives and leadership together to achieve systemic, sustainable social change? We need to think deeply about strategic, cross sector partnerships. In the UK for example, Youth Business International who I work for, work with governments, local agencies, donors and corporates in order to build youth entrepreneurship programmes across the world creating businesses and employment opportunities for young people.

I hope my thoughts and reflections are useful and give some ideas about achieving social change in innovative ways in your community. I will certainly be sharing further insight in future posts and look forward to your comments.

Amongst all these I came across so many young, successful people working hard to change their lives and ultimately change this planet. Made many friends from USA, UK, Spain, Austria, France, Brazil, Colombia, Australia and many more across the globe.

The Shaw Centre, where the Summit was hosted.
The famous Rideau Canal in front of the Shaw Centre.
Needs no introduction! The famous landmark of Canada – Parliament Hill. 
And, finally, the best thing I ever ate in my life – the Austrian delicacy: Chicken Schnitzel. 



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 She also made a blog post about China, so head on over to check it out!


Thanks for reading 🙂


Renee Tingle

Quitirrisi – Huetar Tribe

We all went on a educational trip to Danny’s Quitirrisi Huetar Indigenous community.


Here is a little information about Costa Rican’s indigenous people:                                                         The Indigenous peoples make up about 1.7% of the Costa Rican population. Like Canadian indigenous groups, these people also have territories/reserves lands. There are roughly 24 indigenous territories located throughout the country of Costa Rica. The Indigenous people of Costa Rica have a similar story to the Indigenous people who live within Canada, the rest of North America, and Australia . They are the people who first lived on the land, prior to European and African contact. Christopher Columbus arrived in Costa Rica in 1502, around ten thousand years after the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica made the land their own. The contact with European settlers caused many of the indigenous peoples to die of diseases brought to their country by the foreigners.

The Huetar tribe’s territories are in two locations in the Province of San José. The Quitirrisi Huetar tribe is in San José, Canton de Mora (Quitirrisi de Mora), and the Zapatón Huetar tribe is in San José, Canton de Puriscal (Zapatón de Puriscal). Their cultural identity has been somewhat lost, although certain traditions, such as the Fiesta del Maíz, and the use of medicinal plants, have been preserved. The ancient Huetar were very wise people who had an infinity to nature, medicine (to the point that they could do minor surgery). As well as math, science, language, and sports, they were innovators, inventors, and visionary of their time


I was able to visit the Huetar Tribe in Quitirrisi, Thanks to one of the indigenous students named Danny that I was working with this semester in Costa Rica. Danny took all of us (our group comprised of the TEC indigenous students, and the 3 Centennial College students) on a field trip to see and learn about his tribe and community. Quitirrisi is located just 40 minutes to the west of Santa Ana, the Quitirrisí indigenous territory/reserve is the home to about 2000 Huetar Indigenous people. Quitirrisi Collage 3

The natives’ land is relatively unfertile and a varied of agriculture did not develop. Corn is one of the only products that is grown by Huetares. The Huetar’s crafts are products based on palm leaf, fodder and vegetable fibers. The Huetares are specialists in natural colors for dyeing clothes, ceramic artifacts, basket weaving, pottery, etc. they are sold at roadsides and at “ferias” which are the markets to sell their goods.

Today Huetares speak Spanish (due to the loss of their native language). However, one of their leaders, Juan Sanchez (or “Choto,” his name in Huetar, and also Danny’s uncle),IMG_20160213_132037

who shared his people’s history, culture, and challenges with our group. He has been making efforts for the last twenty years to bring back the language, customs and traditions of his people.  Juan told us that the Huetares are descendants of the Mayan’s tribe. He took us on a tour telling us the significant of all the native structures as well as their meaning, and purpose, for example the building with a thatch roof. We learned that each palm-wood pillar of the sturdy structure represents a different ancestral spirit, which makes the shelter a sacred and wondrous place.

Quitirrisi Collage 420160301_183142

Juan also showed us how they make sugar cane juice.  Quitirrisi Collage 1


We also met with Danny’s father who makes basket weaving items, and wooden statutes/figurines, etc.,

Quitirrisi Collage 2 20160301_182604then we met with Danny’s uncle who does pottery work. He gave use a demonstration on how he makes his pottery on his spinning wheel, and also by hand.

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Danny’s cousin also had a display of his craft work too. I don’t have to tell you that I bought some stuff, because I did (you would too if you saw it… so cool!).


All I can say is that I had a great day learning about Danny’s amazing tribal history and culture, they are very humble, care and genuine people, who are very welcome and happy to tell you of their culture and customs. I am very PROUD to call Danny my GOOD friend,IMG_20160213_154532 I will be sad to leave when the time comes to return home. Pura vida!!

By: Abir Hassanien                                                                                                                                     Social Service Worker                                                                                                                               Centennial College (Ashtonbee)                                                                                                           International student placement internship Costa Rica (Instituto Tecnologico de Costa

Talamanca !

So this weekend we went to Talamanca, more specifically to the Bri Bri indigenous community located in Talamanca. Lemme tell you, what an adventure. Lemme tell you first, its like a 5 hour drive to Bri Bri from where we started so this adventure started off pretty lame, waking up at 5am and being crammed in the back of a hot jeep with 7 other students for 5 hours…but not to worry, it defiantly got better.

After we finally arrived at our destination, we met with some elders from the community, who just to happened to be the grandparents of some friends of mine, and they taught us about their culture. We learnt so much from the elders my brain was exploding with information by the time we left. we learnt about their customs and beliefs, how they came to be here, their views on marriage and sooo much more. Did you know that long ago, the Bri Bri people believed that people were born from corn seeds? thats why corn was and still is considered a sacred food by the Bri Bri people. super interesting. I also learnt that many of the elders have been working with an organization to help make a Bri Bri to spanish dictionary and have even converted parts of the bible to Bri Bri, all in an effort to keep their language alive and prevent it from dying out like many of the other indigenous languages in Costa Rica. Their efforts to preserve their way of life are incredible and I really hope their language and amazing ways of life are still around for generations to come. After the learning session they told us some legends and stories of the Bri Bri people (my favorite being “the water tiger”) , I won’t recite any as they are far too long but I implore you to google a few, they are extremely cool.

The next day (sunday) was just as interesting at the first. We met this man (who’s name I dont remember) who I found extremely curious. He grew cocoa beans and produced his own 100 % organic chocolate. Despite being an curious fellow, I also found him to be very wise. He told us (and this is word for word) “Human beings today are confused, we used to be all about togetherness and unity and respected the circle of life and the world but now we are all confused, we are all square. we cannot agree on anything and we live a square life, square houses, square doors, square mind. we no longer respect the circle and that is why we are failing”. A wise man indeed.

After having lunch and discussing the world with the wise chocolate man we went off to have some fun. Cause after all, what’s work without a little fun. So we hiked off to the local waterfall, as all the locals do, and spent some time cooling off in the beautiful mist of the waterfall, while mentally preparing outselves for the 5 hour trip back to Cartago.

A great end to a great weekend, in the beautiful place that is Talamanca !

p.s. we also saw a sloth 🙂


  • By Jason Bridgemohan


Italy, Urbania – Unforgettable

Its been 66 days since I’ve been back from Italy, and I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to experience this unforgettable memory. I spent two weeks in the lovely little town Urbania. When I say little, I mean it. Walking the whole town took no more than 30 minutes, can you believe that? Among the narrow cobblestone roads lived some of the most friendly faces and families. Not to mention, their family owned cafes and restaurants – bellissimo! After my morning classes, I would spend my days either wandering the many streets, sketching at the main square, or just hang out central cafe with my colleagues.


Photographing the narrow streets of Urbania, Italy 

We went on so many wonderful excursions. It was hard to believe how much we were able to see in such a short amount of time. It was pretty impressive how organized this program was!


Enjoying gelato in Gubbio, Italy 


Our gondola ride in Venice, Italy


Personally my favorite visit , Florence, Italy. 


So much life in such a little town, Urbino, Italy


Feeling like a total tourist in Rome, Italy  

Even though it’s been 66 days since returning, I’ve thought about this journey every single day. There are just countless stories and memories that I will never forget. My friends and family are probably sick of how I can’t stop talking about it!

Thank you GEO centennial for such an unforgettable opportunity.

Experiencing Costa Rica

Currently, I’m stationed at the beautiful GAIA Hotel & Reserve in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. I’ve been here for about 5 weeks now and feel like it’s been a lifetime since I arrived. Going back to my first week, everything was a blur. This is my first trip away from home and was initially very worried about what trouble I might stumble into.

The hotel itself is a small 5-star boutique hotel with amazing views of the surrounding rainforest and the ocean. The howls of monkeys has become my new alarm clock. Since the hotel has it’s own private reserve, there is tons of wildlife to observe including; brightly-colourful Macaws, White-faced monkeys, Sloths, Lizards, Howler Monkeys and much more!

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View from the Infinity Pool Bar

I was lucky enough to experience zip-lning for the first time. What a rush! Zip-lining through the tropical jungle was definitely worth the trip. Aside from the fact it was about 40 degrees out and we had to hike for a great distance, it was all worth it once you got hooked onto the line.

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Traveling up to one of the higher platforms

I’ve been able to travel into town and experience the beauty of Manuel Antonio beach. It sure beats the view form Centennial’s third floor windows. The sandy beach was filled with tourists from all around the world, soaking up the hot Costa Rican sun. It was pretty essential I got a coconut to drink out of. I mean, how many other students from Toronto can say they enjoyed this scene in October?

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The Costa Rican people or “Tico’s” are very warm and inviting. They never fail to wish you “Buenos Dias” or strike up a quick conversation. I do enjoy the way of life here. Everything is much slower paced and makes you realize the more important things in life. I was fortunate enough to be in this beautiful country, filled with the most gracious and helpful people I had ever met. The area is a tight-knit community, aside from it being a tourist area. All the locals know everyone. As soon as I became friendly with 1 person, it seemed that I became friends with everyone.

Stay Tuned for more!


Costa Rica-Nicole

Hello my name is Nicole and I’ve been doing my coop at Buena Vista lodge for a month now. While I’ve been here I’ve got to zipline, ride a horse, go on this crazy water slide and go to the beach (as well as getting burned at the beach) of of these things I have no done before getting here. As well as doing all of these crazy things I’ve met tons of new people and seen lots of new animals. Sorry no pictures of me yet but here are a few of my favorite past time, wildlife photography.

More to come soon, Nicole

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GEO Language and Culture Program to the Centro Studi Italiani in Urbania, Italy

I will never forget this amazing global experience in my entire life , because this was my first time visited Europe, this was my first time stayed with Italian home stay family, this was my first time learned Italian language, this was my first time made a ceramic work and so many ” the first”. I feel myself has been opened to the world.

Awesome course schedules in Centro Studi Italiani in Urbania, Italy


Continue reading “GEO Language and Culture Program to the Centro Studi Italiani in Urbania, Italy”



Conservation project in Costa Rica

By: Rogilyn Gamboa

What did I do this summer? Before the school ends I really wanted to do something meaningful during the summer and I find out that GCELE is a full funded project of Centennial College so I joined in. At first, I’ve been interviewed of one of the Faculty. After 1 week later, they send me an email that I got accepted. I spend my two weeks of summer in the rainforest in Cano Palma, Costa Rica. I feel really blessed to be one of the representative of Canada and my school Centennial College as a Canadian/ student ambassador. I learned about on how conservation works on plants, animals and from the community but wait! there are more that we can’t just learned from school. I learned how to reflect myself on people in the community and to look and think deeper on things I do for living that may have a long term effects on other people’s lives.