Industry & Life Insights from Advertising Week New York

I never thought that one day I’d have the chance of attending Advertising Week New York – the premier world’s event in the industry.

However, as unpredictable as life can be, I’ve just come back from the last edition.

It was four days full of insightful panels about data, tech, e-sports, gender equality, diversity, creativity, branding, storytelling, emotions and customer engagement, and so much more.

I knew that once I got there, I’d be lost between so many panels I wanted to attend. Unfortunately, we (still) can’t be at more than one place at the same time, so, I did my best to plan ahead.

With a notebook, a pen, and an immeasurable mix of excitement and curiosity, I left my Airbnb in New Jersey, early every day, to get the maximum out of #AWNEWYORK!

DAY #1

Six panels attended, an entire day of learning and astonishing. From “Co-Creation“, by Cirque Du Soleil & Sid Lee to “Bias in Advertising“, by Saturday Morning and P&G, I left the first day full of energy, insights, and joy.

Some of the highlights from Day 1:

  • “Humans avoid uncertainty. Uncertainty comes from our fear of death. Unless you embrace it and decide to take risks. That’s what we do at Cirque du Soleil.” (Sheila Morin, Senior Director Marketing of Cirque Du Soleil)
  • “Media is not creating only one moment with consumers; it is creating different moments across the entire consumer journey. By using emotional targeting it’s possible to create genuine engagement and drive brand value.”

Advertising is biased toward gender and race.

Wait, no.

The world is (unconsciously) biased.

The issue is bigger than we think and is still a work in progress. “The Look“, a campaign created by P&G and Saturday Morning, brings the issue to ads to provoke discussions around it. More than worth to watch it.

DAY #2

Six more incredible panels. Starting the day with Fernando Machado, the CMO of Burger King, and closing it with Disney in a compelling presentation about “Storytelling.”

I can’t even say how amazing it was to have the opportunity of attending such panels. Fernando Machado is undoubtedly one of the bravest marketers I’ve heard about so far, always willing to take risks that others wouldn’t even consider. The “Whopper Detour” is one of the best proofs of that.

Some of the highlights from Day 2:

  • “The best question to be asked is ‘What happened?’ because this gives room to the interviewee to tell her/his story.”(Mike Greenberg Host, Get Up!, ESPN)
  • “Nowadays everyone is looking for ways to implement the newest tech in their strategies. However, they are doing it wrong. Briefs shouldn’t be made focused on using tech. Briefs should focus on your objectives towards your target, and tech should come as one of the tools you could use to create real engagement with your consumers.” (Fernando Machado, CMO of Burger King)
  • “TV is now fragmented. Consumer behaviour is dynamic. And there is a lot of content available across different devices. Such a fragmented viewership also fragments data, which can lead to media opportunities: companies can now reach a specific audience on TV.”
  • “It’s not only about technology improvements, but also (most important) about the internal organization. Teams must collaborate with each other to reach a common goal, as each of them has different touching points throughout the consumer journey.”

DAY #3

I decided to start the day attending one panel that wasn’t in my pre-defined schedule: “Morning Meditation & Optimized Business,” by Conscious Enterprises. Why? Well, I believe that taking care of our minds is one of the most important things to do and that we usually forget.

How many hours per day do we truly dedicate to take care of ourselves? 🙂

As a person who has already tried to meditate for thousands of times without succeeding, there was one lesson from this section that got into my mind, and I’d like to share with those who feel the same way:

“The mind thinks involuntarily, just as the heart beats involuntarily. So, telling your mind to stop thinking, is as effective as telling your heart to stop beating.”

(Emily Fletcher Founder & CEO, Ziva Meditation)

That’s how learning to meditate should start: by accepting that the thoughts and concerns will keep coming while you’re there seated and breathing. However, once you recognize there is nothing you can do about it, you’ll feel much lighter after taking some minutes to just quietly sit and breathe.

The other panels that I got the chance to attend during Day 3 were all about AIunderstanding Generation Z, and improving customer experiences.

Some of the highlights were:

  • “When you’re designing your customer experience journey, you should view problems as goals. And adopt a transformation vision: bottom-up, using tech to understand your customers, and top-down, using tech to improve their experiences with your brand.” (David Levin, VP, Customer Experience & Digital Innovation, Bob’s Discount Furniture)
  • “GenZrs are religious to brands, as they see it as an extension of who they are. However, brands must represent GenZrs values at first.” (Nadya Okamoto, Chief Brand Officer of JUV Consulting)
  • “Within the Advertising Industry, only a few women are in power positions (11%). And when it comes to creativity, it gets even worse. Without enough women having the chance to produce content, ads end up being much more likely to be gender-biased.” (Rachel Terrace, CMO of TIME’S UP)
  • “Machine Learning is a program that consumes data and makes predictions. Artificial Intelligence is a program that considers predictions and takes action. In Advertising, AI can be applied to audience discovery, dynamic creative, and predictive analytics.” (Jacob Grabczewski Head of Product, Copilot, Xaxis)

DAY #4

Last day of #AWNEWYORK and the desire to get the most out of it! Burnout x Resilience, Women: Decision Makers and Influencers, Future of Content Marketing, Brand Building and Experiential Engagement… What a day!

  • “Accept that you’re not in control of anything besides your mind, your actions, and your will; this will give you real freedom.” (Lucio Ribeiro, Professor at RMIT in Marketing and A.I.)

“Podcasts are only good if they fit into your content strategy. It must have context. It shouldn’t be only about checking a box.” (Jamie Luke, Director of Content at The Foundry @ Meredith Corp)

  • “The future of content will focus more on what people/influencers are creating/crafting instead of how many people they are reaching. It’s about quality instead of quantity.” (Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich, Co-Founder at Masthead Media Company)
  • “Brands want to be out there sharing content about themselves; however it’s more important to first understand what consumers are looking for, which phase they are in the consumer journey, and deliver the type of content they need – so you can truly engage them.” (Stephanie Stahl, VP at Content Marketing Institute)
  • “You learn the most from the people you like the least. Difficult people teach you what not to do and also how to do extraordinary things.” (Sarah Ivey, Founder at Agents of Necessity)

Finally, here is an example of what happens when women are in power in the ad industry. Coors Light launched the first beer ad focused on women as consumers: “The Official Beer of Being Done Wearing a Bra.” The idea was not to exclude men but to include women in the conversation. Watch the ad.

Chelsea Parker is the Senior Marketing Manager behind it.

When we developed this campaign, we made a conscious decision to focus on real moments — things our consumers were actually doing. Taking your bra off at the end of a long day is one of those moments that really resonated. By choosing to feature occasions that feel surprising for beer advertising, we’re hoping to forge more authentic connections with our drinkers.


What more can I say?

Attending such an exciting event and learning about the future of advertising from such amazing speakers was just… mind-blowing!

It was also one of those life opportunities for me to get out of my routine and put myself in some uncomfortable situations:

  • I was travelling to a city I’ve never been to before (New Jersey);
  • I’ve been one time in New York before, but now I was walking around the city without data to access the internet;
  • I had offline maps, yeah. But I still got lost multiple times – which was great because I got to accidentally discover different places;
  • I was alone out there, and as a shy person, I confess it scared me at first. But, I just ignored my fears and once I was there, I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to different people, why not? 🙂

I can say that after all the experiences and learnings I went through those four days, I left Advertising Week feeling more human, more energized, and more prepared to face the challenges that are yet to come.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

― Brené Brown

A special thanks to Centennial College for the bursary that helped me to attend Advertising Week 🙂


Published By

Bruna Tenorio

Waking up in the city that never sleeps – NYC Advertising Week 2018

Written By: Sarah Galley

November 3, 2018

This October, I had the privilege to travel to the big city and attend New York Advertising Week. As a third-year student in the Advertising and Marketing program, I was ready to put my studies aside to head abroad and gain valuable knowledge from this conference. New York Ad Week consists of countless seminars and networking events that run from morning until late afternoon. My SaGE Global Experience in NYC led me to many unique sights and I took away just as many valuable learnings as I did photographs.

Travel Day and Exploring the Big Apple

On Sunday morning, I arrived at the Toronto Island Aiport ready to embark on my trip abroad to the city that never sleeps. I took my first step onto an international flight and before I knew it, I had already arrived in New York City. My classmates and I all stayed together at an artist-designed AirBnb that was could not have been anymore picture-perfect. After taking more than a handful of photos, we ordered a New York-style pizza to our apartment before a night of exploring the Big City. We kicked off our night by heading to one of the biggest and brightest sights in Manhattan, Times Square. The bright lights brought so much truth to the statement that the city never sleeps. After wrapping up photo-taking in Times Square, we got snacks and headed back on the Subway to New Jersey.

#AWNewYork Seminar Highlights

My classmates and I attended eight seminars throughout our time spent at New York Advertising Week. The seminars I attended varied topics, including the future of the advertising industry, social media trends, and various brands and agencies. Each seminar provided me with real-time insight into what issues are currently impacting the industry, and how they will impact my career moving forward. Below are highlights from three of the seminars that sparked my interest.

Day One—Marvel and The Power of Podcast Storytelling for Brands


“It’s hard to market audio in a visual world—the best way to market podcasts is on other podcasts.” – Amy Fitzgibbon, CMO at Stitcher

This seminar was one of the most insightful ones that I attended at the conference. In class, we have discussed podcasts and the impact they are currently having on consumers and advertisers. This seminar really elaborated on the storytelling capabilities of podcasting, and the impact it can also have on advertisers and brands. Something I found particularly interesting was the best way to advertise a podcast, is actually on another podcast. Podcasts have become a mini-industry of their own, and what can’t be addressed on a screen is done through audio. Knowing it is a growing industry, I am looking forward to how podcasts will play a role in my career.

Day Two—Memeology 101: The New Language of Cultural Ideas


“A gene is the basic unit of DNA. A meme is the basic unit of ideas.” – Joe Federer, Brand Strategy at Reddit

This seminar resonated particularly well for me as I am a millennial entering the advertising industry. The culture of memes that exists on social media is a phenomenon that continues to grow in presence. This seminar touched on the brands that are trying to enter the space of memes on social media, and what they are doing well or not well. Memes tend to be self-deprecating in nature, and brands who are engaging in this are trying to discover ways to do this while still being able to sell a product.

Day Three—The Jump with Will Smith: One Iconic Storyteller’s Journey of Reinvention & Connection

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“The whole reason for storytelling is a combination of joy and expansion.” – Will Smith

My classmates and I found ourselves frantically running through Pennsylvania Station on Wednesday morning aiming to catch the subway—ensuring we had seats for Will Smith. It was the presentation you didn’t want to miss on day three of Advertising Week. The discussion dove into Will’s journey in creating his own online presence and brand on YouTube, and how the platform has redefined storytelling. With his witty humour, he delivered a compelling discussion on digital branding in the most entertaining way possible.

New York City Experiences

Central Park

On our second night in New York City, my classmates and I decided to treat ourselves to a dinner in one of Central Park’s classiest restaurants. We ate at Tavern On The Green, which overlooked Central Park and had a very classic atmosphere. We spent the rest of the evening watching the sunset on a rock in the middle of the park—a sight I’ll never forget. The Ad Week convention centre was located just a few blocks away from Central Park, and in between seminars we found ourselves enjoying lunch in the park.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Exploring the MET was by far one of my most memorable experiences from New York City. The museum had a lovely rooftop that overlooked Central Park and the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we visited the museum, and my classmates and I took the opportunity to take new LinkedIn pictures in front of the view. We explored Ancient Egypt and Heavenly Bodies exhibits before the museum closed at 5pm. Afterwards, we took a stroll down Madison Avenue and visited several boutique shops.

World Trade Exhibit

On our final night in New York, we visited the Downtown core of the city after spending most of our time Uptown. We boarded a subway headed the opposite way and found ourselves at the World Trade Centre. Arriving at the Memorial was surreal—the impact of the events on 9/11 still felt very heavy as we looped the entire pool. To end the trip off on a positive note, we spent the evening at a rooftop patio overlooking the city reminiscing on new memories.

The Takeaway

Travelling to New York City with my classmates was an incredible experience. It was my first time travelling outside of Canada and I could not have asked for a better way to do that. The SaGE Global Experience Program gave the classmates that have become some of my closest friends and me, the experience of a lifetime. I was able to become aware of various issues that are impacting the state of the advertising industry that I was not previously aware of. My experiences at the seminars brought up topics that I look forward to diving into and discovering more about on my own time. This Global Experience provided me with beneficial insight and personal growth, and I could not be more grateful for the experience.

My Trip to New York City for Ad Week 2018

IMG_0434.jpgTime Square, NYC

The Start Of My Adventure

As a third-year Advertising and Marketing student from Centennial College, I had the exciting opportunity to go to New York Ad Week 2018 on behalf of the Sage Global Experience program. Best decision I could have made! I attended the most interesting conferences, learned what’s affecting the industry, networked with so many industry professionals and had lots of time to explore the big city.

New York City is full of so many creative people and our Airbnb host was obviously one of them. Our place was one of the cutest, Pinterest inspired places I have ever been too. I loved it! It was completely affordable and worth the extra travel time.

The Conference Sessions

Meme-ology 101

“If a meme is the unit of an idea, then language is the equation.” – Kenny Gold

This conference was incredibly interesting and entertaining. The speakers spoke about the culture of Memes and how they are the “doppelgängers” of our feelings. They spoke of memes is not only an obvious way but the technical way and really gave us insight into why people connect with it and how brands can genuinely connect with their audiences. This is why it’s become part of our culture of the language. Joe Federer mentioned that “self-deprecating humour is a large part of meme culture.” Katherine O’Brien talked about how memes relate to social currency and the value of community that the culture of memes gives. This conference really gave me a lot of insight into the future of utilizing popular trends like memes in the industry and how it can be used effectively.


Marvel – Power of Podcast

“Podcasting is a long-form storytelling. Wolverine is a man of few words and it takes a lot to get anything out of him. Internal monologues give the listeners that.” – Chris Bannon

This conference focused on Marvel moving into the Podcast world. It was interesting to hear why the big brand decided to move to the Podcast realm and how it was succeeding.  We also got to hear about how they are selling ads into Podcasts and the thoughts behind it. Daniel Fink described the success of the Wolverine podcast interestingly by describing the hook. “I don’t think it’s the murder that’s hooking everyone, it’s the suspense. Silence is used to replace and create tension that captivates listeners.” We got to hear a short clip of the podcast and it was amazing. After that, I considered downloading the Podcast.


The Jump with Will Smith

“A constant confrontation with fear helps create creativity.” – Will Smith

This was one of my absolute favourite conferences because it was lead by the famous actor Will Smith. He spoke about his new Youtube channel and how he is creating success for himself. He gave us advice to “use the stories that are already inside you as creative inspiration. Your pain is such a rich tool to connect with creativity.” He also spoke about how the path for success has changed and how we can get ahead by “finding the current and staying in-tune with that current.”


The Social Evolution

“Use the grey area to go somewhere you never went. That’s how you evolve and create better, more authentic content.” – Mick Petesky

The conference talked about the evolution of social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Linked In and Twitter and how they are used differently to appeal to their audience. They talked about which platforms work better for specific target groups, when to release creative control and what you need to develop organic and shareable content. Nicole Brenton discussed how “branded content is more authentic and is better received when creative control is relaxed.” This was interesting to learn the success of the social giants and how brands adapt to each.


Some of the Perks

On top of learning a bunch of information about industry issues, the future of advertising and ways to succeed, there were tons of free giveaways and vendors handing out food, branded items, games and information. This was a great way to interact with brands and clients and gain exclusive information on what new things are coming to the market.


After attending a few interesting conferences each day, we spent the rest of the day site seeing, exploring and eating.

The MET was one of my favourite experiences and was an absolute must go for me. My favourite part was seeing the Heavenly bodies exhibit. This exhibit featured the work of famous designers that were raised with the Roman Catholic religion and how it inspired and influenced them in the fashion world. Another exhibit I loved was the Greek and Roman Art exhibit, it showcased so many statues and the stories behind them which was so interesting to learn about. I could have spent all day there.


Central Park
Anyone who has ever heard of New York City has heard of Central Park. It’s the best place to get away from the rush of the city directly in the downtown core. I love how there’s a place in the middle of all the chaos to have some peace and quiet. The atmosphere completely changes and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Strolling through the City
New York City is huge and just walking through the streets you just feel a sense of belonging. It’s not hard to understand why so many people dream about living in a big city. It has an indescribable culture and is so beautiful.

My Overall Experience

New York City was unforgettable. It was my first time ever in the city and it certainly won’t be my last. The Sage Global Experience Program has given me an exciting adventure to end my three-year journey with Centennial College, with some of the people I have been friends with since my first day. I got to learn more about the industry and issues that are currently affecting it. I have met a lot of contacts, brands and clients that I will work with and now I can fully prepare for my future in the industry.

Written By: Brienna Monture


My Global Experience – New York Advertising Week (2018)

At the beginning of October, I was given the chance to travel to New York for Advertising Week through Centennial College’s SaGE Program. As an advertising student, AdWeek is a great opportunity to explore a new city, network with industry professionals, and learn more about industry issues.

Seminar Highlights

Over four days, I attended eight seminars that I thought would best address where advertising was headed in the future. I wanted to learn about the issues that would impact my career when I graduated.

Day One

“One of our most powerful weapons was silence.”
-Daniel Fink, Executive Director at Marvel Entertainment

The most interesting seminar I attended on the first day was “Marvel and the Power of Podcast Storytelling for Brands.” After learning about the rise of podcasts in class, I wanted to understand how podcasts will soon become part of advertising communications platforms. Executive Director for Marvel Entertainment, Daniel Fink, discussed the creation of Wolverine: The Long Night. He addressed the struggle of turning X-Men’s Wolverine from an action-based character into an intriguing audio-based storyteller. For Daniel Fink, “one of our most powerful weapons was silence.” By refusing to give the audience information for a few seconds Marvel discovered how to make podcasts compelling. I think it is important that brands also learn how to build tension and intrigue to keep consumers interested in an audio-based medium. What struck me most was the realization that the rise of podcasts will mean brands will also soon need an audio identity, which will add a new level of intricacy for advertisers.

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Day Two

“The format of your message is just as important as the message itself.”
-Joe Federer, Brand Strategist at Reddit

On the second day, my favourite seminar was “Memeology 101: The New Language of Cultural Ideas.” Brand Strategist for Reddit, Joe Federer, considered how brands could use the format of a meme and alter the content to reach young consumers in a more relatable way. He stressed, “The format of your message is just as important as the message itself.” The panel discussed how advertisers must understand that an image overlaid with text can be more culturally powerful than a Tweet. What I found most interesting was that the challenge for advertisers is to use memes organically. Memes are often based on current events and cannot be planned in advance. In an industry where planning is critical, it will be interesting to see how we will learn to recognize the potential for memes as they arise and jump on them quickly.

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Day Three

“Just because your movie was ranked number one that week doesn’t mean it was a good movie. There may have just not been any good movies out that week.”
-Will Smith

Personally, the most memorable seminar of all of AdWeek was “The Jump with Will Smith: One Iconic Storyteller’s Journey of Reinvention and Connection.” Will Smith discussed the recent launch of his YouTube channel and the lessons he learned from producing engaging content. He realized that metrics are not always the most important factor. He related this insight back to his film career, stating, “Just because your movie was ranked number one that week doesn’t mean it was a good movie. There may have just not been any good movies out that week.” I found this relatable to advertising because we will need to not just look at numbers. Rather, we need to also consider what people are saying about the ads and the brands. Just because people had exposure to an ad doesn’t mean they bought a product or viewed the ad favourably. Overall, I was impressed by Will Smith’s insight and charisma and I think he made a very interesting presentation about how to be a good storyteller.

Day Four

“Time spent on stories will pass time spent on feed.”
– Nicolò Brentan, Head of Sales at MakeMeReach

On the last day, the seminar that stood out most to me was “The Social Evolution.” While most advertising students are aware of digital becoming more impactful than traditional media, it was interesting to see how things are changing even within social media. According to Nicolò Brendan, Head of Sales at MakeMeReach, “time spent on stories will pass time spent on feed.” The reason for this shift is because stories feel more natural and authentic to consumers than carefully planned posts. I think it was important to understand that prioritizing social media alone will not be enough shortly. Consumers are now shifting their focus from permanent posts to temporary stories which change how advertisers can best reach consumers. As someone entering the industry, it will be important to recognize these trends and understand how to capitalize on them.

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Amidst the flurry of attendees rushing between seminars were vendors showcasing new technology, and offering treats and prizes. I loved that there was always something new and exciting to see and try at AdWeek.


In addition to attending AdWeek seminars, we also had the opportunity to explore Manhattan. It was surreal to experience a place in the person that you always see in movies. While we explored many of New York’s notable locations and restaurants, my most memorable experiences were going to Times Square and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met).

Times Square
The first night my classmates and I arrived in New York, we decided to travel to the most iconic place in Manhattan, Times Square. The streets may have been busy with people but the buildings were even busier with ads. It was hard to know where to look with the flashing lights, giant billboards, and noise. I do not think there is a better place for an advertising student to get a sense of the impact of the industry than Times Square.

The Met
Except for the seminars, my favourite experience from the trip was going to The Met. As a self-identified history buff, seeing a massive collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. One of my favourite exhibits was a reconstructed Egyptian temple that dominated an entire room. I am so thankful that we made time to go to The Met and I believe that any person, no matter his or her interest in history, can find something there that astounds them.

The Takeaway

Overall, travelling to New York for AdWeek was an amazing experience. Throughout the conference, I was able to gain further insight into topics I was previously mindful of. Yet, I was surprised that I also become aware of upcoming industry issues that I was not previously aware of but should investigate further since they will impact my career. Centennial’s SaGE Program has afforded me professional growth and the ability to travel with my classmates to a place I have always wanted to visit.


Thank you SaGE for an unforgettable Global Experience!

Written by: Lauren Clancy

In The Sun


Life has ‘it’ moments.

‘It’ can be the night you meet that someone who could be the one, or when you say yes to a college or university letter of acceptance, or the day you take a job that you know could be the career. There’s your life before ‘it’ and your life after ‘it’.

Florida was one of those moments.


Was it perfect? The 28 hour bus rides say no. But no story worth telling is and our time together under the Florida sun was a thing of absolute beauty.

We had the chance to capture moments with one of Canada’s finest photographers, discuss the ins and outs of writing with two editors whose collective experience spans a lifetime, and listen to the gruff and grumbling musings of Centennial’s most talented alumnus.

We saw that in this business, things go wrong — sometimes in spectacular fashion — and the difference between people who will be great in the industry and everyone else is the way they respond to that adversity.

We were given real world reps, the kind we’ll only properly appreciate in hindsight.

For nine days we learned how to be writers, interviewers, and journalists because there was no alternative. For nine days we lived in our dream come true.

That’s pretty cool to say, and exciting, and terrifying. And everything else that you feel in the half second before the roller coaster drops because these nine days also made it clear just how bad almost making it would hurt.

But that’s okay.

All that fear means is that we’re doing something deeply important to us, and maybe that was the best lesson of all: an affirmation of why we decided to do this in the first place.

The value in that can’t be measured, but Florida was more.

It was the tired eyed talks after 2 a.m. about life and love, frustrations and fears — all the things that, for one reason or another, you can’t quite say during the reasonable hours of the day.

It was terrible hotel coffee with good company on a balcony looking over the bay as the sun painted orange lines across the water.

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It was sitting in a room, looking from side to side, and knowing that you’re surrounded by 22 other uniquely remarkable, passionate, and talented people who are chasing dreams just as big and crazy as your own.

Florida may have lasted less than two weeks, but time holds no bearing on magic. Like the rest of life’s finest moments it wasn’t just about what happened, it was who we shared it with.

It’s a big world full of twists and turns and none of us can know what will come next. But whatever does, nothing can take away those nine days in the sun, the memories made, and most importantly, each other.

You can’t ask for more.

By Thomas Ketko

Cancun – Isla Mujeres

Luckily for us, our hostess Rosa arranged a much-needed day off for us on our first Friday.  We’d had an extremely full calendar, and were about to have a non-stop weekend, so to have the day off to explore at our own pace was very much appreciated.  Most of us ventured off to Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, though we went in different groups and with different agendas.


Claudette, Ashley & Melissa L. on the ferry to Isla Mujeres

My group of 4 traveled by ferry first thing in the morning, as we had a few places we wished to visit, and didn’t want to be out too late, as we had a group dinner planned that night with representatives from the Universidad Tecnologica de Cancun.

First on our agenda was the Tortugranja, a turtle farm that works very hard to protect a variety of endangered sea turtle species.  Volunteers and staff collect eggs laid in the sands, so that they can be safeguarded against predators.  The eggs are relocated to a specially insulated area, re-buried in the sand, and the spot labelled with the type of turtle and date of burial for reference.  Once the turtles begin to emerge from the sand, the hatchlings are transferred to tanks inside the farm, so that they can grow to a size that will give them an even greater chance for survival.

The farm also has tanks that contain turtles that wouldn’t normally survive in the wild, whether due to injury or genetic anomaly.  These tanks are located in a small aquarium for visitors, which is inhabited by not only turtles but other sea species, including sea urchins, starfish, horseshoe crabs, many types of fish, and seahorses.  The outside area has a cordoned-off section where visitors can arrange to swim with rays and nurse sharks (we did not).


One of the many residents of Tortugranja, who might otherwise not survive in the wild

Next on our journey was the cemetery in which the infamous pirate Fermin Mundaca built his own tomb (Mundaca wasn’t actually a pirate – he was a slave trader who felt that piracy was a more noble profession and so labelled himself as one).  Mexican tradition honours the dead with holidays, feasts and celebrations, and it is no surprise that their cemeteries are filled with colour – large tombs are built with display cases on top, to showcase photos of the deceased, and for families to present gifts of food, beer, and toys for children gone too soon.  Turns out that while Mundaca did indeed construct his tomb there, he is in fact buried in Merida, on the northern coast of mainland Mexico; legend has it he built the tomb so that he could be near his unrequited love, an island girl almost 40 years younger than himself.  While cooling off in the church at the top of the cemetery (temperature was around 45 degrees that day), we met a rather large group of students from York University, part of an Asian fellowship group on a month-long mission to the homeless settlement located adjacent to the cemetery, who were also on a well-deserved day of free exploration.

Our final destination for the day was “Taller Artesanias de Mujeres”, the Women’s Beading Cooperative.  Local women, eager to develop their own incomes, created this co-op a number of years ago.  Approximately 55 women are members, and they can often be found sitting together around a large table in the center of the co-op.  They create the most amazing beaded jewellery, handbags and other accessories, and sell them directly in the store.  Each piece is labelled with the artist’s name, and 80% of the price goes directly to that artist (the other 20% is given back to the co-op for supplies).  For these women, the co-op is a life changer – many of them would either be unemployed or working for someone else for much less than they are able to earn here.  Purchasing souvenirs at the co-op was a no-brainer:  while I didn’t buy much, the four small things I did buy translated to almost 10 days of liveable income split between three different artists.

Once again, many thanks to everyone at Centennial College and Universidad Tecnologica de Cancun for making this trip possible – what an amazing experience!

Melissa Beynon

International Business & Language Program, Cancun Mexico

 Cancun sign

**photo courtesy Weiying (Salina) Wang

What an experience!

Now home after our two-week program, the luggage has been unpacked, the photos are downloaded, and it’s time to reflect on what this trip gave to us – an immense opportunity, provided by both Centennial College and the Universidad Tecnologica de Cancun, for one very lucky group of students to learn a little bit of the Spanish language, quite a lot of Mexican culture & heritage, and exactly how important International Business relations is to both Canada and Mexico.

Throughout the week, our days began with three hours of Spanish language instruction, provided by the loveliest woman I think I have ever met, Maria.  Once Maria realized that for most of us, the only Spanish language skills we had were as a result of childhood viewings of  Dora the Explorer, she quickly adapted the curriculum to suit our skill set.  It may sound silly, but she made learning Spanish easy and fun by using flash cards, charades and games of ‘Loteria’, a bingo-style game that used boards we created with our new vocabularies and dried beans as playing pieces.  Sacapuntas!  A great example of how adapting a program to suit the learning styles of students can be successful!

After Spanish class, depending on which day of the week it was, we had either a Mexican history class or a Mexican cooking class.  Our Mexican history and culture professor, Brenda, was also extremely warm and welcoming to all of us.  We began our studies with a history of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and then the invasion by the Spanish Conquistadors,  finishing with the culture of present-day Mexico, and an amazing final class in which Brenda came in full traditional dance regalia and taught us all how to salsa!

Cooking classes were fantastic in that they ended with the class feasting on our creations – dishes such as chicken with mole sauce, tamales (using both banana leaves and corn husks), and the most amazing drink made from Swiss Chard!  Our last class had us creating hot peppers stuffed with chicken and fruit, topped with pomegranate, coriander and a white sauce which made our plates resemble the Mexican flag – Salud!

On a few afternoons, our gracious hostess Rosa accompanied us on a variety of excursions – we visited the Mayan Museum, an open-air market containing practically everything anyone could ever want to buy (including the most amazing kitchen sinks!), and business tours of very posh local hotels (tourism is the leading industry in Cancun, after all).  Rosa was also instrumental in arranging a couple of days off for us, so that we had the opportunity to explore other areas of Cancun at our own pace.

It was an amazing journey, and many thanks to all of the people at Centennial College’s Global Experience Office who made it possible.  I would also like to thank Rosa, Brenda, Maria, Regina, Marianne, Gladiel, Adriana and everyone else in Cancun who truly made us feel at home away from home – I’m hoping you’ll come visit us here in Canada soon!

Melissa Beynon

Believe and go get it!

I am going to see the world as a Centennial Ambassador; it is an honor to represent my College in France.
My name is Alejandro, I was born in Mexico, in Tuxtla Gutierrez a small city located in Chiapas, a state in the south part of Mexico. I love meeting people, making new friends, outdoor activities, traveling, and I am very passionate about nature. I am a people person. Something that makes me really happy is helping people; I believe that good actions teach better than words, teach to keep a peaceful environment where one lives. Helping is a great value that should be practice by everyone, and our world will be a better place to live it.
I moved to live to Toronto, I have found that meeting people from all over the world has made me more understanding, respectful, and interested in meeting different cultures but the most important lesson is to enrich myself. Traveling would be a great experience to share my knowledge and my incredible life of living in Canada, especially Toronto. Furthermore, I am absolutely proud of College, I want to share my college life. Studying and living abroad for a semester would be an excellent form to enrich my life and hopefully for me to enrich other lives. Being in the Hospitality and Tourism Administration program I should learn and experience different cultures. Traveling is one of the ways in which a young person learns, experiences, meets, and shares knowledge with the new cultures. Moreover, travelling will broaden my horizons and maybe I will be able to broaden other people’s horizons a bit too. I always am happy and excited to share the experiences that I have in Canada with my family and friends back home in Mexico. Definitely, traveling abroad could be an amazing adventure of learning but also to share with all my family and friends redundant. Global Experiences Opportunities is a perfect to way to learn, but also to show what I have learnt. I would be thrilled traveling abroad and it would contribute positively to my growth as a human being and a citizen of the world.
My motivation has always been to enjoy every second of my life with what we call, memories. How do we get memories? Well, it is not that hard, just enjoy the moment, and be yourself.
My new goals are to have outstanding marks, enrich myself with new experiences, learn new things from new people, expand my knowledge, learn French, and show to everyone what I have learnt during my studies at Centennial College. After my studies in France are done, I am absolutely sure that I will see the world differently, and I will share all my experiences with my classmates when I get back to Toronto.

I am traveling tomorrow to La Rochelle, France!

Greetings from Seoul, South Korea.

Luis Alejandro Meixueiro Pastrana

Believe and go get it!
Believe and go get it!

My Mexican Session

My first week in Mexico on the Centennial College GEO Program has been eventful. Each day is filled with new afternoon adventures with a stable class structure in the morning. Each morning we embraced the Spanish language with the help of our professor who led a very interactive hands on approach to learning a new language. Within a week we were able to communicate in simple conversation, understood the names of various foods, colors, seasons and careers. Each day our teacher came prepared with exercises that utilized all of senses which allowed us to grasp the basics of the language very quickly.

Our tour guide, who accompanied us on afternoon excursions was very insightful and delightful. She maintained a great sprit which helped us get through the extra hot days. After seeing that the sun was becoming much for us, she arranged for us to have cool off days where we could move at our own this pace. This accommodation really helped to avoid over exerting ourselves in this new climate.

A lot of the excursions were outdoors in the beautiful scenery and amongst the wildlife. A few included beach time which was a nice relaxing change from the in class sessions. There were boat dinners, waterparks, museums, walking tours and industry tours that included viewing some of the more renowned hotels in the area.

The first week in Mexico has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

Melissa – Anne L.

Cancun, Mexico

Here is what has been happening since I landed in Mexico more than a week ago…

First off Mexico is a beautiful but very hot this time of year 43 C!  Its hard to believe that in the 1970s Cancun was only a small fishing village of 120 people and only jungle. Well now it has spun around 360 degrees! It is a tourist hot spot not only in Mexico but all over the world! The rest of Mexico is different, meaning that Cancun is in full on globalization. It is catering to the tourists and only the tourists.

Going to school everyday Learning Spanish has been great! Everyday I am learning something new and different and having a lot of laughs in between. The language is very fast so you have listen closely or you will miss something completely in the explanation. Interacting the with the other students on campus is challenging but a great time to practice my Spanish. There are a lot of drawings and hand gestures taking place, common ground can usually be found. The excursions to the different industry tours have been eye opening. These have included variety of hotels learning how they function and operate.

I have experienced different sites while I have been here, the historical village of Chichen Itza built by the Mayans for example. It was mind boggling to think that this site have been around for thousands of years and still currently stands yet newly built structures are not able to withstand longevity. Also leaping off a 150 ft drop from the Ik Kil cenote was amazing! A cenote is an underground well that has emerged naturally and opened up. The water was refreshingly cool. It reminded me of Canadian summers jumping into a cold lake. Oh I almost forgot…I ate grasshoppers for the first time!!! They were delicious and covered in chili power.

Xcaret was another fantastic adventure! It is an eco tourism park filled with…flora, fauna and cave swimming! I swam with my group in the dark along river beneath the caves. It was an outer body moment. All my other senses kicked into high gear. I literally could not see anything in-front, behind or below me. Yet it was peaceful and tranquil at the same time. You learn to rely on yourself and also realize that everyone is capable of so much. Stepping outside the box and trying something new!

Lastly, my time here in Mexico is flying by fast. Emerging yourself in new things is important, otherwise I would not have been able to eat grasshoppers! I hope everyone their different trips whether they be short or long make sure they are taking it all in,whether it be getting lost, tasting new foods, meeting new people or trying something new. Do it all and do not look back!

Hasta Luego

Buenos Noches