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Leaving Arequipa...

NSCC in Arequipa, Peru

sunny 20 °C


Arequipa, Peru: the air is fresh and the sun is shining, and it is about 20 degrees. It is like this most of the year, except for a rainy period in January-February. Hard to imagine predictable weather if you live in Halifax, but it does exist here.

Arequipa is a "small" city of about 850,000 +, but feels smaller. No bad traffic here. You can see several snow capped volcanoes (most extinct) from almost everywhere in the city, and the city centre is a UNESCO world heritage site with a beautiful central square, narrow cobblestone streets with mostly single story buildings made of volcanic rock. Colca Canyon (twice as deep as the Grand Canyon), Machu Piccu, Cuzco, and Lake Titicaca are nearby; Alpacas and Llamas are all over the place - the scenes remind me of national geographic photos.

And the food... wow! Peruvian cuisine is amazing - huge variety of ingredients (3000 kinds of potatoes? i thought there were only two kinds - big and little, but what do I know), the amazing tastes from simple combinations (ceviche), the exotic dishes (yup its true, they eat guinea pigs). And we are here to establish a partnership with Instituto del Sur (ISUR) in tourism, hospitality and gastronomy. Exciting! I hope we will be able to create some opportunities for our students and faculty here.

ISUR is a non-profit private institution with deep community development roots that seeks to develop the "whole person" through applied skills training (similar to NSCC's portfolio learning approach). Their programs in tourism, hospitality and gastronomy include a focus on entrepreneurship and workplace readiness for the local tourism industry (an important and growing industry in Arequipa), and also emphasize global learning opportunities like student exchanges.

ISUR has been working with other Canadian Colleges for several years, and their Director General, Gaby Cabieses and their Academic Director, Alfredo Rivera both visited NSCC during the World Congress of Colleges and Polytechnics/ACCC conference last May in Halifax. They have been to many other places in Canada before, but this was their first time in Nova Scotia. Lucky them and lucky us! They told me they were very impressed by NSCC and Nova Scotia during their visit and especially during our opening reception "kitchen party" which showcased our music and tourism students and our Waterfront Campus. Alfredo returned in October with the ELAP/CBIE group and saw a good fit with our tourism and culinary arts programs, and we began discussions about student exchanges starting with Canadian Government ELAP scholarships.

We met with Claudia, the gastronomy program director, who trained as a chef at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, and Theresa, the tourism director along with two of their students who have been selected to apply for ELAP scholarships. I love meeting motivated students and they were bursting with excitement about the opportunity to do an exchange at NSCC.

As we walked on the tarmac to board our flight, the moon was shining down over the volcano in the background. A wonderful visit!

On to Lima....

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 19:19 Archived in Peru Tagged peru arequipa cuisine canada nova_scotia nscc Comments (0)

NSCC in Colombia day 2

rain 15 °C


We are very lucky on this trip to Bogota to have help from our colleague Jos Nolle, the International Director at Niagara College who is on secondment to the Association of Canadian Community Colleges Education for Employment (EFE) project in Colombia for a year. Jos is well known to many in the international education field in Canada and has been working with partners in South America for many years.

Jos has helped us set up meetings and network with several agencies and organizations in Bogota, and we thanked him by buying him lunch (as they say, no such thing as a free lunch!). Jos also shared alot of background on the EFE project, the education system and economic and political trends in Colombia and gave us some great advice on working with student exchange partners in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Thank you Jos! Jos has a great blog, and some good photos on what he is up to and you can also see what we had for lunch on his blog: http://josnolle.blogspot.com

Most of our visit in Bogota involved meetings to help us research opportunities for NSCC in Colombia, but we were also able to visit our new exchange partner university CESA in Bogota. CESA is a well respected business school, and we were able to meet with the Rector, several staff, visit the beautiful campus of older restored homes which have been equipped with modern equipment and even features a stock trading centre (students are given a project to invest College funds in the stock market each term! no pressure!). We also had the pleasure to meet Alejandra Rivera, a bright and outgoing student who has selected by CESA for an Canadian Government ELAP scholarship application to study for a semester at NSCC. Alejandra is very excited to come to NSCC, and we hope she is awarded the scholarship!

Our partnership discussions with CESA began when International Director Eden Bolivar visited NSCC during the ELAP mission last fall. I asked her about her impressions of NSCC from that visit:

"The visit to Nova Scotia Community College was very fruitful and very well organized. I had the chance to see that Community Colleges in Canada have very good infrastructure facilities and offer very high quality programs. Usually in developing countries like Colombia, some students think that the programs offered by Community Colleges are inferior to those offered by universities. This visit allowed me to have more information that I could relay to our students.
The presentation done by NSCC was very interesting and I learned that articulation agreements exist between community colleges and universities giving students different pathways to develop professionally. Lunch was superb and the visit to the culinary arts was fun and interesting"

We are just getting accustomed to lively Bogota but it is already time to leave... Next stop: Arequipa, Peru

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 16:01 Archived in Colombia Tagged canada colombia nova_scotia nscc Comments (0)

NSCC in Colombia day 1

rain 14 °C


After the first day in Bogota, Colombia arriving from Guyaquil, Ecuador, i started to notice similarities and differences between the countries even at the airport.

The first thing i noticed: i need a warmer jacket - high up in the Andes (2500 metres +), Bogota is at least 10 degrees cooler that Guayaquil at this time of year and the rain was making it feel even cooler. Yes, it is March and in Halifax there is yet another winter storm that closed NSCC campuses, but still... Also, rainy season in Bogota means you need to bring your umbrella everywhere even if it is sunny when you leave the hotel in the morning.

Second thing I noticed: both Guayaquil and Bogota have new, big, modern airports, which match the growing and expanding economies of the region. But in Bogota, you are likely to bump into Canadians at the airport. Yes, in Ecuador I did spot a few Tilly hats that probably belonged to Canadians. But the Canadians you are likely to find at the airport in Bogota are likely to be oil or mining executives. We ended up talking to an oil guy from Calgary on the shuttle bus who travels here regularly. "Extractive industries" are big business in Colombia and Canadians are involved in a big way - more than half of the international investment in mining in Colombia is Canadian. Gold mining has a long history in Colombia and the Museo del Oro in central Bogota (photo above) has a huge collection of Inca and pre-Inca gold.

Third thing: traffic is bad. It is bad in Guayaquil and bad in Bogota. The city is growing fast (7 million +), and to cope with the number of cars on the road each car has a restriction on days of the week and/or times of day it can be on the road. There are other innovations like a redesigned mass transit system and new bike paths but the traffic jams are just plain bad. One trip across town for a meeting at the Canadian Embassy took one hour one way and 15 minutes on the way back. Crossing the street is also intense!

Fourth thing: the coffee is really GOOD - here in Bogota and in Guayaquil. I work in many countries where the coffee is either non existent or instant and i am an addict, not just to the caffeine but also the taste, so this is fantastic!

Fifth thing: the food is amazing - in Guayaquil and Bogota. Lunch is the big meal in both places and it is totally different from eating a boring sandwich at your desk like many of us do in Canada. A big, long, delicious cultural experience.

Finally: people are friendly - here and in Guayaquil - despite the long hours people work and the traffic which would make me really cranky I think!

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 14:29 Archived in Colombia Tagged canada colombia nova_scotia nscc Comments (0)

NSCC in Ecuador

rain 28 °C


We have spent two wonderful days with staff at Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo (UEES) and Universidad Ecotec in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Andrea Losada, International Director at UEES and Jihna Gavilanes, International Director at Ecotec were our hosts and in between some intense tropical rain showers, and Guayaquil traffic jams, we got to see their campuses, meet staff and students and learn more about their universities. We also had a chance to visit some of the NGO partners that UEES works with for international student service learning placements.

UEES is over 20 years old and offers programs in a wide range of disciplines, with an applied approach in four year degrees. The campus is modern and lined with palm trees, and with iguanas in the green spaces (watch out if they are in the trees above). UEES has alot of experience with incoming and outgoing international exchanges including Niagara College, College of the Rockies, and Grant McEwan. We met with their tourism and culinary program directors and hope to be able to start with tourism student exchanges.

The tourism industry in Ecuador is focused on natural and eco-tourism (eg the famous Galapagos Islands and many other beautiful areas in the mountains and on the coast) and adventure tourism, and the culinary program includes elements of the very diverse and delicious local cuisine. There are a surprising number of European (German, French, Italian) connections and influences in Guayaquil, which is a major port and the business centre of Ecuador. The downtown area is bustling with people and has a redeveloped riverfront area (Malecon) of tree lined walkways, shops, and restaurants.

Universidad Ecotec is a newer university with the same owner, and a similar approach to quality and a brand new campus launching in July. They are not as experienced in exchanges but Jihna comes from the international office at UEES so will bring that corporate experience to develop the international program.

When we were discussing negotiating an exchange agreement, I asked Andrea why she wanted to work with NSCC, since they already had some great partners in Canada. She shared her impressions of NSCC Akerley Campus with me from the visit last fall, that she gave in her evaluation to CBIE:

"My first impression of NSCC was the welcome they gave to all the delegates from the ELAP Mission. We were able to feel and see that they really took the time to be there and shake our hands at the entrance, everybody, Deans, Directors, high representatives, teachers for example, sat with us for lunch to enjoy a very well produced meal from the school of culinary arts.

The most important, to me, was the message they gave us with their actions: they really wanted to know who we were as people, where we came from and about our cultures. They made this feeling tangible that day, they made it personal. I thought that my students would feel comfortable in such a welcoming environment, where variety is praised and tolerance for other customs is practiced."

Wow! Great job Akerley Campus! And thank you Andrea Losada for the kind words.

Next stop: Bogota, Colombia

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 18:37 Archived in Ecuador Tagged south america tourism eco-tourism nova_scotia culinary ecuador nscc Comments (0)

Hola América del Sur!

NSCC in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru

rain 28 °C


Zoran Kondali and I from NSCC International are in South America as part of a reciprocal visit to several institutions who visited NSCC in October-November 2012 as part of the Government of Canada funded “Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program” (ELAP) mission organized by the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) to foster exchanges and partnerships between Canadian and Latin American colleges and universities.

The ELAP visit to Nova Scotia came at a good time as our provincial government is exploring trade links with South America (two trade missions planned this spring to Colombia for example) and Edunova and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education are promoting and expanding educational linkages in the region.

Since the ELAP visit in November, our international office has been in discussions with several ELAP delegates, and working with the NSCC School of Business to narrow down the group to 5 potential partners in 3 countries (Ecuador, Colombia and Peru) for potential exchanges to begin in the 2013 academic year in the areas of business, tourism and culinary arts.

Part of the process is to connect with other Canadian colleges to gain feedback on student experiences, and all of the potential partners have been highly recommended. Another important part is to visit the universities in person and meet with students, staff, see the facilities, and their approach to teaching and learning, and see a bit of the local area and culture.

First stop is Guayaquil, Ecuador, to visit Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo (UEES) and Universidad Ecotec. Stay tuned!

- Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 16:05 Archived in Ecuador Tagged education peru south america international colombia nova_scotia ecuador guayaquil nscc Comments (0)

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