Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain

Hello everyone!

My name is Bianca, 20 years old. I am Brazilian and this Summer of 2017 I have been part of the Summer International Program in Spain.

The total length of the program was one month (August). As you might already know, it is one of the hottest months of the year in Europe, so obviously I was melting everyday over there; but I can’t really complain about it. Everyday I would wake up with this huge sunlight coming into my window, would have breakfast with my lovely Spanish family and go to school by walking and laughing with the best roommates in the world.

During class, I will admit, we have learned a LOT of Spanish. All of the professors would only speak Spanish, so we had no other choice than learned it (some would say by the hard way, I would say by the funny way lol).

After class, me and my friends used to go out for lunch and everyday try a different Spanish dish. So on Mondays, for example, we decided to always go out for Tapas, which is kind of (INCREDIBLE DELICIOUS) side dishes given to you when you ordered any drink. Unfortunately, I don’t have any picture of it, cause I was always starving for lunch after class. PS. OUR CLASS USED TO FINISH AT 3PM, so you can imagine how hungry we were.

So having lunch, we normally went back home to take a nap because of the SIESTA. As Spanish people says “dormir la siesta”. Can you think of any better way to spend your day with a full belly? We slept around one hour and went back to streets for shopping, or eating more, or visiting some new places. The funny thing is, our small city would be completely empty from 3pm to 5pm. I guessed everyone was also taking a nap. But as I mentioned, the same time we went back to the streets, everyone else was also there, which always meant partyyyyyyyyy!!!

So from there to night time, the city was really alive and we had a lot of fun. I have many stories I could tell here, but I think I will just live some pictures from my GREAT Spanish adventure. Love to share my experience =)

 

 

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Andiamo Summer Program – Italy 2017

The opportunity Centennial College had granted myself along with 18 other students has been nothing short of fantastic. As an architectural technology student visiting the birthplace of civilization and seeing all the beautiful and intricately detailed buildings was enough of a reason for me to want to go on this two week adventure.

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Little did I realize what I would receive would be so much more. All students stayed in the loving homes of Italian families that made us authentic Italian meals every evening. At Centro Studi Italiani, centered in the small town of Urbania, we studied Italian language as well as ceramics, cooking and a wine tasting. The staff and teachers were friendly and did an amazing job setting up our stay in Italy. After classes we had ample opportunity to go out and mingle with the locals, getting a full immersion into the Italian culture and making new friends along the way.

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Also included in this two week program were excursions to Florence, Venice, Rome, Urbino and Gubbio. While there we were gifted individual on site exploration, with some pointers on the local landmarks, allowing everyone to see or do as they pleased. Each location had its own charm, with sights and history making it hard to compare one to another. If this sounds like a lot to take in for just two weeks that’s because it was, these two weeks were jam packed with adventure around every corner and I would not trade this experience for anything. I look forward to returning to Italy one day, and hopefully reconnect with the new friends I have made.

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– Brad Shadlock

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Italy Sage 2017

Hi, my name is Maegan!

This blog is about the amazing opportunity I got to cross Italy off my bucket list. I am a student at Centennial College studying a three-year Business Entrepreneurship coop program. On August 20- September 3, a group of 18 students went on a journey together to Italy for two weeks.

 

 

 

We stayed in Urbania, Italy for the two weeks, once we got there we got to find out who was our room mates and Italian parents for the rest of the trip.

 

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The next day was school Centro Studi Italiani; where we learned Italian for 2 hours a day, all the teacher were very nice and helpful. It was a great idea to learn the basics of the Italian language to help with traveling on our own throughout the trip.

 

 

I really wanted to experience the food in Italy, here are a couple of items I really enjoyed.

 

 

We ate gelato every day and ate from the supermarkets.

–>What I learned about Italy is Itanians love pasta, wine, they need to be bussed through a door to get into banks and they take naps in the middle of the day.

In Urbania, Italy we had a Wine Tasting, Cooking class, and Ceramics class.

 

We had one day in Urbano, Gabbio,  Florence, Venice and Slept over in Rome:

 

My Favorite part of the trip was Venice and Florence I always wanted to go there!

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In conclusion; this global experience was amazing and I will never forget the summer I spent getting to know Centennial College students from all different campuses and learning the Italian culture!

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The End!

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SIP Salamanca

Stepping into the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca for the first time was an unbelievable experience. The school was beautiful and old and bigger than I ever imagined. The first day we had an orientation where we were split into classes where we took a placement test to determine our level of Spanish. Following this we went on a tour of Scala Coeli, a large bell tower with an amazing view of the city. Over the course of my two week stay in Spain, I met many new people, ate delicious food, and learned a lot of new Spanish words and phrases. The teachers at the university were excellent. We had writing class in the morning then lunch and afterwards pronunciation class. The accommodations at the university residence were perfect, I had wifi, 3 meals a day, and my own room (with its own bathroom). The food was great at the residence and there were lots of options for every meal. There were many different people staying at the residence who I go to know during my trip. In addition to classes at the university, I visited an art museum and a car museum while in Salamanca, as well as a cathedral that took over 200 years to build. Overall, I had amazing time on the SIP Salamanca and I cannot wait to revisit Spain in my future travels.

 

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La Dolce Vita – The taste of the sweet life in Italy

I am ecstatic to be writing​ about, my wonderful SIP trip to Urbania Italy, with Centennial College and Centro Studi Italiani. From the beginning​ to the end, everyone you met was eager to welcome you into their homeland and into their lives. From the directors of the school to the staff, our homestay host, and the locals, we were constantly surrounded by Italian hospitality and warmth. This immersion​ into the culture, allowed no time to miss or develop homesickness. Urbania became home. We now have a new family with our hosts, and made new friends that will last a lifetime. Creating this close bond, was not easy. However, a goal of mine was to be more accepting of situations and become more outgoing. This allowed me to benefit fully from all the experiences in front of me. This trip truly encouraged me to develop communication skills, that are invaluable in today’s job society. I am grateful to have participated in this program. All of my expectations were shattered, and I came back to Centennial College with a sweeter outlook on our world. Grazie mille Centennial College e Centro Studi Italiani !

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Food Security in Cuba – An Introduction

By: Gun Chong Yang, Nursing Student

GCELE: Pathways to Community Food Security in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

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My name is Gun, but you can call me Chino because that was my nickname during my time on this Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experience. Along with 14 other students and staff members of Centennial College, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel to the humble city of Sancti Spíritus, tucked away in the heart of the island country of Cuba, to learn about food security and permaculture.

Food security can be defined as having access to affordable, nutritious, and sustainable foods or food resources. Food insecurity, as one could probably imagine, is the opposite of that. When we think of food insecurity, we tend to conjure up images of impoverished children living in war-torn countries and poor, undeveloped nations. On this trip, however, we were taught to re-imagine and reflect on those images not from a political & economic perspective, but through a socio-cultural lens.

Cuba has gone through an incredible amount of social, political, economic, and cultural growth and transformation within the last 30 years. This is the result of an economic crisis, known as the “Special Period”, that began in the late 1980s due to a halt to the import of oil, food, and other goods from the Soviet Union. With their economy already damaged by the trade embargo set by the United States in the 1960s, the effects of this crisis were felt all over the country.

During the Special Period, Cubans all around the country had to ration their food supplies and limit the use of any fossil fuel-dependent machinery due to their lack of oil. Many farmers suffered greatly because they could not use their large tractors or harvesters and could not easily transport the goods that they produced any more. This also meant that urban communities began to see a decrease in accessibility to foods as well. People were becoming hungry and increasingly reliant on the government for support. Cuba was in need of a solution that would provide food security to its citizens during this vulnerable time.

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Luckily, a few teams of Australian volunteers came and shared with the Cubans a new method of sustainable farming that could be easily integrated into the lives of citizens, both urban and rural, and was seen by the Cuban government as a method to combat the increasing amounts of hunger and poverty that were beginning to spread throughout the country. This new agriculture vision was known as “permaculture”.

Permaculture is the combination of 3 words; permanent, agriculture, and culture. It is a system of beliefs that revolves around the development of sustainable agricultural systems that closely resemble natural ecosystems.

Natural ecosystems, like the earth, are considered to be self-sufficient. This means that they require little to no maintenance in order to proliferate on their own. There exists cycle in nature that all organic material can enter to be broken down into the basic building blocks of life; carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. New plants can use the products of that breakdown, combined with the seemingly limitless amount of energy from the sun, to supplement their own growth. This happens on a large scale all over the planet and seems to have worked so far in creating massive, self-sufficient ecosystems (think large rainforests!), so therefore by integrating these biochemical laws of nature in their own farms, permaculture farmers have been able to produce a large quantity of healthy and sustainable vegetation.

A lot of the food that we eat comes from monoculture farms; farms that only produce a specific crop (e.g. orange farms). Monoculture farming definitely has its benefits, but it is not a sustainable method of farming. They reduce biodiversity, make it harder to recycle nutrients, and often rely heavily on chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Permaculture is a different take on the typical monoculture farming that we see today. One of its concepts involves incorporating a wide variety of plants and using them in a way to maximize each plant’s individual development. This is almost identical to the First Nations’ “Three Sisters” concept, where corn, beans, and squash are grown together because each crop has a unique characteristic that provides a benefit to the other two, maximizing their growth potential.

On  the third day of our trip, we planted banana circles at a farm named “Lo Real Maravillosa”. Banana circles are another type of system of crops like the ones described earlier. By planting banana & papaya trees and sweet potato roots in a circular mound with a pile of compost in the center, the circles act as great natural composters, abundant sources of food, and storage sites for greywater or rain.

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Another concept that is a part of permaculture is the idea of producing no waste. Many of the foods and waste products that we simply throw away today have huge amounts of energy and nutrients left over that can be re-purposed. The whole idea of composting is to break waste down into dirt that is enriched by the nutrients that were trapped in the waste before. By composting kitchen scraps and food wastes and turning them into dirt, farmers can save money on fertilizer and produce better yields of healthier and tastier crop.

I remember visiting a man named Edison’s farm and noticing that the ground we were walking on was covered in something that wasn’t dirt. He told us that they were rice husks; waste products from a local rice mill. Edison made a deal where he would take all their waste and use it on his farm. The rice husks would naturally degrade and the nutrients trapped in them would return to the soil, thereby enriching and protecting his soil.

Even human waste can be re-used. For this reason, almost all of the farms that we visited had composting toilets, or dry toilets that collected our waste products, which were added to compost to help make nutrient-rich fertilizer through the bacterial breakdown process. Human waste also contains a lot of bacteria that, during the composting process, produces methane gas, which was used to power some of their stoves.

The final permaculture concept that I will talk about is setting limits and sharing the surplus. Many of the farms that we visited did not only produce food for themselves, but made an excess that helped to feed the rest of their communities. They also sold some of their crops in the local markets. By taking only as much as they need for themselves and ensuring that there is enough for others as well, then there will continue to be enough for all in the future.

This trip taught me extremely valuable knowledge on food security, the country of Cuba, and permaculture. I will definitely apply this knowledge in my future career as a nursing student and I am very grateful for the new perspective I’ve been given on agriculture and food. Thank you, Centennial College, for this amazing opportunity. Sancti Spíritus, I’ll be back!

 

 

 

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My Learning Journey in Sancti Spiritus

Feeling anxious about what my next 10 days were going to be like, I hopped on the plane with 14 strangers and off we went to Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. For the next 3 hours, my imagination was free to run and wonder what exciting things were just a few short hours away from me. We stepped off the plane and as I inhaled with much excitement we started our journey!

We all gathered on the back of a bus with benches for seats and windows as air conditioner and our suitcases packed between our legs! An experience you might ask – absolutely! The next five hours were full of an experience like no other gaining friendships and seeing the world beyond my typical norm. We arrived at the foundation we would be staying at for the duration of our stay and the greeting, although a language barrier, was very special and inviting. One thing about the foundation was whenever we walked through the doors the table was set every single time with delicious meals prepped for us like clockwork. Beautiful dinners of fresh local fruits and veggies, freshly squeezed fruit juice from local farms – it was wonderful.

As we began our adventures, day by day the experience got greater and connections became stronger. The team work was phenomenal. I have never been part of a team who worked so collaboratively in my life. We laughed we cried but most important we worked together. We saw tarantulas and encountered scorpions, slightly shocked by the shower head (it pays to know the language and read the signs 😂😂). It was used to heat the water but clearly had written do not touch shower heads.

Those are just a few of my wonderful experience but let me touch on the amazement of the utilization of material and waste matter that was so efficiently reused to build garden beds and dead leaves and grass used as mulch to turn into amazing soil. This way they reused human and animal waste to create soil from mother nature. It was so amazing to see the beautiful gardens flourishing with fresh tasty fruit and not to mention the all natural medicinal plants they had for many different illnesses. I was truly inspired by the hard but not too challenging work the Cubans had put together. They have done the gardens in a way that is so amazing and eases the work load daily.

I was truly inspired when I returned home I had reused 2 old BBQs I had and cleaned them lined them and created beautiful garden beds that have now started to grow carrots, tomatoes, green onions, squash and more. To touch on modes of transportation a tad, the coolest experience we had was riding a horse and buggy. Though our horse took a little hissy fit and decided which paths he wanted to take and when, it was quite the experience. The truck we took was an open back and that is something I’ve always wanted to try. Every morning we woke, ate breakfast and on the back of that truck we went.

The Cuban friends we made were so amazing and accommodating. They taught us to dance salsa and took us to a wonderful beach (I might add we were stung by jelly fish, just another experience to add to the list 😁) but the friendships gained were friendships kept. We swapped emails and keep in touch on a a weekly basis. It’s amazing how the experience continues to flourish even after the project is over. One last piece I would like to add is they have taught me so much in such a brief time. My eyes have been opened to a world of amazing new opportunities that I continue to carry with me.

By: Alysha Morris

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Sancti Spiritus, Cuba – GCELE Experience

By: Inez Tarditti-Falconer

Sancti Spiritus, Cuba… Where do I even begin? This GCELE was literally a trip of a lifetime for me. I learned things I never thought I could learn, went through experiences I never would have imagined, met Cuban friends that I never thought I would have met and travelled with an amazing group of people from Centennial!

While in Sancti Spiritus, I really got a taste of what it’s like to live in Cuba. I went on this trip with the mindset that I would be helping the people there, but in reality, the people of Cuba taught me and helped me more than anything. I learned a lot about the permaculture movement happening in Cuba and what that meant in regards to their food security. It was moving and inspiring to get to know how the Cubans we met lived a life that revolved around nature and taking care of the land, while living off of it as well.

Many of the farmers were teachers, engineers and ordinary people with other jobs. They had farms and gardens as a side activity. I thought this alone was moving because taking care of these farms and gardens is a big and task requiring a lot of hard work! Since I know how to speak a bit of Spanish, I was able to speak with some of the farmers and I honestly learned so much from them. They are so wise, knowledgeable and humble in all that they do – it was amazing to meet people like them.

All of my new Cuban friends are always in my heart and without a doubt, I will be returning to Sancti Spiritus to see them again!  I also got the chance to plant banana trees, papaya, sweet potatoes and coffee. I was actually in the dirt and planting! It was such an awesome feeling, mainly because, before this trip I would have never ever thought I would be working in a farm and getting dirty – or even planting anything at all!

Learning about permaculture in Cuba opened my eyes to our own food security in Toronto and what that really means for us. I also stayed at the foundation’s museum, and something that I had to get used to was the water shortage. Mostly during the days, the water would run out and return in the evening. I never had to deal with anything like this in Toronto, so it was something that made me realize just how grateful I should be for something as simple as having unlimited access to water in my home. From the drives in cars from the 50’s, to the delicious food, to the vibrant energy of the Cuban people, to the endless laughs and memories, I can honestly say that I enjoyed every second of it.

All in all, this trip was unreal. When I was back in Toronto and it came time to tell all my friends and family about it, I found myself having difficulties putting it all into words. It’s one of those experiences that you just had to be there to really get it! I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity by Centennial. I think that GCELE’s are such an amazing part of this College. Because of this trip, I have memories that will last a lifetime, lived through experiences that have changed me as a person and made amazing new friends. Without a doubt, this GCELE was absolutely and unforgettably INCREDIBLE.

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International Development in Panama

As a student in the International Development Program at Centennial College, I had the opportunity to participate in the Faculty-Led International Program (FLIP) to Panama of the Services and Global Experience (SaGE). As the program’s name implies, the idea was to complement our learning at Centennial College with experience abroad, to know more about the work of international organizations on the ground.

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The destination was the City of Knowledge (CoK) in Panama City. CoK is a hub where UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), think tanks and educational organizations share a space to facilitate mutual cooperation on development issues.

The academic aspect was our top priority in the trip. We had a valuable and incomparable experience. But, we also had the opportunity to taste and enjoy the Panamanian culture. We took a tour of Panama City and learned about historical and cultural sites. The visual contrast between the old and new parts of the city was surprising. The city has two different faces standing literally beside each other; that was like being in two completely different parts of the world when we were in fact in the same city.

As expected, the gastronomy is highly based on seafood as the city is surrounded by water – so we got to try it. But, as expected for travelers like my classmates and I, we decided to try different things every day, not only from Panama but also from different Latin American cuisines. Food lovers would understand why we do not regret it!

According to one of our hosts, diversity in Panama City can be compared to Toronto but on a smaller dimension, as one can see many people from different backgrounds in one city, this can be attributed to the Panama Canal and its importance in trade for different nations. Our trip was short so we experienced just a bit of that diversity.

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My recommendation: If you get the opportunity to participate in this kind of experience, just take it! It will force you to get out of your comfort zone, challenge you to adapt to a new environment, open your eyes to different realities, allow you to experience a little more of the world you live in, know more about different people and cultures rather than what you are used to and, along with all of that you will learn a little more about yourself. If you get an opportunity to go to a different place, learn, discover, do yourself a favor and be a traveler, not just a tourist.

Violeta Bastida
International Development

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La Rioja SIP 2017

Hola chicos!

My name is Tobi and I am a second year Baking and Pastry Arts Management program student. I attended the SIP this summer at the University of Logrono, Spain. I stayed in a residence close to the university and got to experience all the flavours and colours of Spanish life. I arrived in Spain, knowing very little Spanish. It was definitely a culture shock not understanding everyone speaking around me…and to me. However, as each day progressed over the four weeks, I learned more and more. I met some amazing locals along the way and even had the opportunity to hike one of the mountains in the area with local friends.

Spanish culture is amazing! The siesta  – they are not kidding about this. Many businesses close by 3pm and do not open until after 5pm…and for good reason too. It is hot in Spain in the summer! Temperatures can soar during this time and it can be just plain uncomfortable to be outside at times given my Toronto blood! The days are longer and dinner starts later, after 9pm. The food is unbelievable and I recommend to everyone to sample the wonderful variety of tapas (or pintxos in Basque language). My favourite is patatas bravas. Fried potatoes plus liquid mayo plus tomato sauce is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

In terms of the course, I took level A1 Spanish and was in a class of about 13 other students from all over the world ranging from South Korea to Australia to the Ukraine. We each shared our cultures and truly embodied the beauty of diversity. We all successfully completed the course through the caring guidance of the most charismatic and engaging profesora. I started the course a bit intimidated over whether I would be able to grasp the concepts. I finished more eager than ever to tackle the next level. It was an absolutely life changing experience and I recommend a global experience such as this to anyone. I met some amazing people, was immersed in a vibrant culture and have lots of stories to last a lifetime. Thank you SAGE and Centennial College!

Hasta luego,

Tobi

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