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

Costa Rican Humblings – Part 1

Hola,

My name is Nour Daoud, and I am a fourth semester Social Service Worker (SSW) student, at Centennial College. I am currently in Costa Rica, completing my final placement. Since I am very interested in a future career doing international work, I have opted to complete an international internship, as I thought it was suitable for me. I have been humbled and challenged more than I can describe to you in words. So I thought I’d spare you my boring personal reflection, and just show you why. Please bear with me as this is my first blogging experience ever, and I hope you enjoy it!

Never be afraid to take a risk, or be pushed out of your comfort zone. You never know what you’ll discover about yourself!

Till my next post….PURA VIDA (if you ever visit CR, you must learn this expression)!!!

Ciao mis amigos 🙂

Nour

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).

Nagoya, Japan

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It’s been a while since returning from my Summer CIP, and experiencing the reverse culture shock was something I didn’t expect. After living in another country for a month, you begin to adapt to the different cultures and practices of the host country; it feels as if you are returning to a foreign country rather than coming home to your family when you fly home. I found myself grasping at small memories and items that brought me back across the globe desperately, arguing with myself about which country is my real home.

Now that I’m entering the Winter 2018 semester, I look back at the experience and think about how much fun I had overall. At this point, I have once again coped with the integration back into Canadian society. With a clear mind, I’ve decided to recount the highlights of my adventure.

 

 

Karaoke

This had to be the first thing on my list to talk about. Karaoke in Japan is on a whole different level! Unlike the song books we have here, you navigate their system using tablets. They also have big screen TVs paired with modern Karaoke systems that are always updating their library. The price is very fair, especially because your time includes unlimited drinks! At least, majority of places do. Places like Joy Joy even offer free alcohol… but if you’re going on a centennial experience you better not drink (it’s in the contract)! They also have different lights flashing around the rooms, and some places have instruments to play around with (i.e. maracas, tambourines).

 

 

Akihabara

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Fair warning; it won’t be as all you anime nerds out there expect. There is a lot of anime there, but not everywhere. There are a lot of arcades too, and if you want to play the music games you see on Youtube, you have to go up 1 or 2 floors (Ignore the crane games. They are tricky for noobs). THEY STILL HAVE DDR IN JAPAN!!!! I also tried a VR game that I can’t go into details with (though I’ll throw out the word bishie as a hint ;))

 

 

Shopping

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The shopping in Japan is just like in Canada, but they have so many more items available at their equivalent of a Dollar Store! It’s like going to a Walmart(but even better) where everything really is just a dollar! I could spend hours in Daiso and Seria just trying to figure out what random trinkets I think I need. The quality is also better than you’d expect. What would normally cost around $12 here in Canada only cost me 100 yen (about 1USD) in Japan! They also have more cute clothes, though I guess that’s up to preference. Another thing to note is how often you’ll see a vending machine around; it’s so convenient on the really hot days!

 

 

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The temples and traditional buildings are gorgeous! Walking around the outskirts of town you can see how they integrate both new and traditional architecture into a beautiful blend… I could get lost exploring for hours on purpose! Although everything is built tightly, it feels like they are more efficient because they don’t waste what space they have.

 

Language

Japanese is such an interesting language which sounds so smooth, and hearing it spoken all around me caused my heart to flutter. I’m so happy to have been able to practice speaking the language, and improving my proficiency. We were challenged to write a report in Japanese, and I honestly had so much fun typing on the Japanese keyboards!

 

 

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This is another thing you should really try in Japan. You can try photobooths in other countries, but I haven’t been able to find one quite like Japan’s. Some booth places will even have rental cosplay’s available, as well as areas to doll yourself up. The biggest thing about Purikura in japan though is the unusual beauty filter. It will make you look so different! I highly recommend getting at least one.

 

Toilets

I have to give the bidet toilets an honourable mention; It’s such a weird concept but once you try it, it’s so hard to look at toilet paper the same way. You WILL regret not trying it. Seriously.

 

 

Lifestyle

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I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect everyone to be so kind. I’ve been approached by Japanese citizens eager to practice English with me and have a nice conversation, and they portray strong emotional connections between each other that I had not expected. Granted, not all are like that, but moments like when my luggage got stuck in the train doors and everyone around me stopped to help me pull it out have me taking a step back to reassess what I had come to understand about Japanese people. It opened my mind a bit more to reality, versus the stereotypes we become so used to. Playing around and doing crazy things, experiencing life in Japan from the perspective of a typical Japanese University student; I can honestly say that I’ve never had so much fun in my life, and I wish I could relive those short moments over and over again.

 

 

Food

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THE FOOD IS AMAZING! If you love sushi, then you’ll cry after trying fresh sushi from Tsukiji Market or any equivalent. It’s so expensive, yet the taste still lingers on my mouth even now… and Kobe beef is sooooo good! Their food tastes so different from North American food, and coming back was a tough transition for me. 7 Eleven has the best fried chicken, and the price isn’t bad; I can literally survive happily off eating that chicken for days.

 

 

Japan Travel

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If you have time, you should really travel to the different prefectures; the difference between them is astonishing, and the experiences are so unique! In Canada you typically stand on the right side of the escalator, but in Tokyo you stand on the left; In Osaka it’s actually the right! The onsens are also so fun and relaxing, though I highly recommend going to a mountainous region to experience the real thing.

 

There’s honestly so much to say, that I even made a short video for a contest about experiencing Japan:

 

 

 

Even after returning, my journey still continues. Since then, I’ve seen and talked with friends I’ve made back in Japan, and I am planning my eventual return. I’m very thankful for the opportunity SaGe has given me; I’ve made so many friends and valuable connections. I promise all you hopefuls that applying for one of these experiences will be a once in a lifetime experience you’ll never forget!

 

 

 

My Dubai Experience!

My experience in Dubai this December was amazing! I had the opportunity to not only represent Centennial College, but also Canada at the annual G200 Conference. Through this experience, I was able to network and build professional relationships with global leaders and youth around the world. In addition, I was also immersed in all the cultural experiences that Dubai had to offer.

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For the first couple days, we had back-to-back meetings and presentations at our hotel. I was in the Labour Market and Global Health Committee, where we established a series of recommendations for the United Nations about various topics including gender equality, maternal health and precarious work. It was amazing to hear ideas from youth around the world who held very distinct opinions and thoughts due to our diverse backgrounds.

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The conference was really busy. We were learning, sharing and eating together throughout the three days.

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Apart from the conference, we also had some time to explore Dubai together. We visited Jumeirah Beach, the Burj Khalifa and went to the huge Dubai mall. I also had a chance to do a desert safari trip in Sharjah, about an hour away from the city.

Overall, my Global Experience trip was everything that I anticipated and prepared for. I was able to participate in a space to discuss my passion for youth development in labour and education, all while meeting new people and experiencing a different atmosphere.

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I also got to know Maegan, Lina and Carlos from my very own Centennial community!

Sara Omer

Global Experience to Dubai!

Let me start this blog off with how grateful I am to have been given this opportunity to go to Dubai on December 3- Dec 10, 2017.

My goal was to learn more about the culture and have the opportunity to network with the business professionals at the G200 Youth Forum.

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I went a couple of days earlier and the conference started on December 6, 2017.  This global experience was a chance to experience the culture, network and learn more about my self. I went two and a half days earlier before the conference, I was able to adjust to the time difference.

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I had the chance to go to the Global Village, It was by far one of my favorite things to do in Dubai. It was beautiful at night with the lights and this was the best opportunity to shop.

I went on a Desert Safari and the Gold Souk.

I went to the Dubai mall and behind the mall was the fountain show.

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Once Wednesday came, that was the first day of the G200 Conference.  I applied to participate in the G200 Young Professionals Platform and The G200 Entrepreneurs Platform, which went great with my program I study at Centennial College. At this conference, I had the chance to listen to other speakers and meet them.

Overall, my Dubai Experience was amazing and I learned a lot from networking and traveling by myself.  The G200 conference was a great opportunity to learn about world issues and business professionals life experiences, the importance of happiness, globalization, investor relations, social entrepreneurship and about other countries.

 

By: Maegan

SIP- Dynamic Busan

Hello readers, my trip to Busan has been one of my top travels by far. My main purpose of the SIP was to learn and emerge myself with the Korean community and people. Although learning a new language can be intimidating, I can promise you that learning how to read and write Korean will only take 1 week maximum. With the exceptional expertise from the teachers of Youngsan University they really make you understand and teach you everyday sentences to aid you to converse with the locals! Busan was naturally beautiful as the city is surrounded with mountains and the ocean. Dynamic Busan has everything to offer such as its beaches, amazing food, the shopping, outdoor and indoor activities and of course the wonderful people! If I have another opportunity to go to Busan I would do it again without hesitation!

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When in Oviedo…

¡Hola! 

My name is Jodie and I am in the Travel and Tourism program. I did the SIP program in Oviedo, Spain, which is located in the Asturias region (north of Spain), for the month of July. I applied to the SIP programs for the fun of it and to be quite honest, I didn’t expect to get in. But to my surprise, I got an interview and then found out I was accepted to the program while I was away in Colombia.

Before I departed Canada
From Toronto, connecting in Brussels, and finally Madrid

Before departing to Spain, I knew some Spanish but I didn’t know enough to have a conversation with somebody or even ask for help. I only learned on my own by listening to Spanish music, watching telenovelas, and by observation whenever I visited Colombia. I was scared when I arrived to Madrid because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking Spanish since I lacked the confidence. This quickly changed because I was forced to speak Spanish since that was the sole purpose of me going therefore I needed to try. Also, majority of the people in Oviedo didn’t speak English because it wasn’t a city with many tourists.

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I was in the Intermediate I Spanish class and my teacher didn’t speak ANY English. At first I thought this was a little bit of a challenge but this actually helped me improve my listening skills. My conversations class not only gave me the opportunity to practice speaking, it also helped me to be more confident to speak. With the help of all three of my teachers, Lorena, Pablo, and Gloria, my Spanish has improved in every aspect.

To wrap it up, I was genuinely sad to leave Spain and I actually cried while I was on the bus to get to Madrid’s airport. I will never forget Oviedo’s overwhelming architecture, the relaxing lifestyle, and all the people I have encountered during my stay. I have a lot of stories to share about Oviedo and these pictures and videos posted don’t do much justice. One thing I could say is that this was definitely a life changing experience for me and I would do this again in a heartbeat. Te extraño mucho, Oviedo. ❤

Besitos,

Jodie

 

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Lost (and Found) in Translation: A (Kinda-Sorta) Spanish Speaker’s Cuban Experience

Written by Amy Yvorchuk

 

“this blue blob of rusted ancient metal (well, it’s about 60 years old) clunk-clunk-clunks through centuries of resource and decades of revolution. it’s careening over rocky roads and stumbling through the sunshine, searing like scrambling eggs on summer pavement (well, it’s the middle of spring).

we doze off on top of suitcase armrests – i’m the last to fall asleep, because i’m distracted by the wind behind me. i try to stay conscious through this travel through time and time again.

the speedbumps aren’t just for show here; they’re our unwarranted alarms, but we’re never in harm’s way despite this steel juggernaut’s jerking over years of winding and unwinding history interlaced with intersections and precarious infrastructure. we’re davids within this goliath, but in this edition of the story we’re not here to conquer – we’re collaborating with compassion with newfound companions.”

These were the first words I jotted down to remember this experience as we drove through the Cuban countryside from Varadero to Sancti Spiritus on May 16th, 2017, the day our unforgettable journey began. When I look back, my stream of consciousness seems just as shaky as my writing was, just as the bus ride was: I don’t think I’ll be able to translate perfectly through either words or pictures, but I can always try. After all, these GCELE opportunities encourage us as students and global citizens to work towards dismantling barriers – and we do that through communicating with each other on our trip, with our new Cuban friends, and with you, the person on the other side of the screen reading this and wondering, “what do you even do on a GCELE?”

As someone who spoke Spanish really well in high school, but graduated high school five years ago, I’ll admit that I overestimated how fluent I was. “I speak Spanish at a conversational level” is easy to say in Canada, when you’re introducing yourself at the GCELE pre-departure orientation to your new Canadian friends, some of whom do speak Spanish but most of whom know “hola”, “adiós”, and “despacito”. It’s even easy to live up to that statement at the airport, when you’re going through customs or asking your bus drivers their names. But in a country where Spanish is the official language, especially in a city like Sancti Spiritus that isn’t overrun with tourists, the locals don’t sound like the slow, articulated, overpronounced audios from your classroom. They grew up with this language, of course, and so you feel like a child relearning how to speak – but you’re also translating for others at the same time that you’re trying to keep up. Challenge accepted, but maybe I dove in too quickly?

 

But nine days in Sancti Spiritus taught me much, much more than some of the words and phrases I’d forgotten. Sure, I felt anxious about not being a perfect translator: one event comes to mind in which I forgot the Spanish word for “box” when some of my friends wanted to take some pizza they’d ordered back to the casa particular where we were staying, and I internally panicked. But what I quickly learned from so many new friends is that it’s okay not to be perfect: it’s better to make the effort to communicate and get to know the people around you than to be completely grammatically correct. Enthusiasm, positivity, and curiosity about new environments go a long, long way.

I became inspired by my fellow Centennial students to stop letting my fear of being perfect get in the way of communicating. When I stopped overthinking about the exact words or grammatically correct phrases to say, I actually felt so much more comfortable speaking with volunteers, families, and permaculture enthusiasts in Sancti Spiritus. Whether it was finding a common love for YouTube makeup tutorials with Lorrettys, listening to entertaining stories about motorcycle mishaps from Sandy, or comparing tattoos with Felix, I found that there was so much that unified us Canadians and Cubans that the language barrier wasn’t an obstacle, but a springboard. And as we all laughed and chattered with excitement in basic English, basic Spanish, and wild hand gestures, I realized that this is what makes new experiences so rewarding: you don’t need to be fluent to build friendships.

That said, I would highly recommend all of you to learn how to say “the toilet’s broken” in the language of the country where you happen to be traveling next, because it’s best to be prepared too.

 

 

SIP – Alcala de Henares

Hello,

My name is Yonghui. I have stayed in Alcala de Henares, Spain, for a month with my wife studying Spanish and traveling around. Alcala is the city where I would love to spend the rest of my life after retirement.  People are nice and kind, city is not too crowded, beautiful and natural… It is such a blessed city! Thank you for this great opportunity.

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Study Love in Spain.