About the Program
I, Stacey Anderson, signed up for the first (pilot) year of this new 4-year program called IM SIENT. It was offered to Indigenous students of Sault College. Along with me, around 20 Canadian Indigenous students were working with another 20 Indigenous Mayan students in Mexico to help elevate small enterprises within Merida, Yucatan. I applied to this program on a chance because I thought it would be a fun experience. I didn’t think much of it, so I was shocked and excited when Sault College informed me that I was chosen to go to Mexico. It was an exciting medley of students. We all came from different backgrounds and studied programs like Forestry, Metal Fabrication, Justice/Law, Linguistics, Aviation, Mental health/Addictions, and Data Analysis. I was studying Early Childhood Education at the Manidoo Baawatig Campus.
Preparing for the Program
Before travelling to Mexico, we Canadian students took weekly online Spanish lessons. We used Duolingo to gain at least some essential Spanish words and phrases, which helped to prepare to communicate with our local counterparts. We were broken into groups and collaborated with local businesses to complete a specific deliverable. The different projects we worked on included catalogues, building a social media presence, developing a business plan and other marketing projects. Our group was responsible for making a video commercial to feature our business partner. Throughout the week, we would drive out to our businesses to collect data and build relationships with those involved or go to a local entrepreneurship hub to work on our projects. At the end of the two weeks, each group had to deliver a presentation to all faculty, students, business owners, and others interested in our partner businesses.
To touch on what my group created, we partnered with a small business run by women in a large family. Their company operates out of their home, making natural products (soaps, lotions, candles, candies, deodorants) using the potent bee pollen and honey from the Melipona honey bee. These scarce species carry medicinal properties and are specific to the region. We got to highlight their unique efforts.
While in Mexico
It was serious business while we were in Mexico! We worked 12-16 hour days. We only had the weekends to spend with our host families and work on homework from our regular college programs. I felt overwhelmed by all the expectations and thought there would be more allotted downtime. We did get to travel within Mexico and were able to experience the culture. We visited Chichen Itza, swam in a few different cenotes, visited some of the most beautiful beaches and tasted many delicious (and spicy) meals. The music, dancing, language and sightseeing were great. It was inspiring and just what I needed during March break.
Despite all the hard work required, the challenges of this program and the projects, I am happy to have been a part of it! I was able to create something meaningful and build some lasting friendships along the way. I would encourage any Indigenous students attending a Sault College program this fall to take the leap and apply for this fantastic opportunity. Although the program had its challenges, it was far more rewarding than I had ever imagined and one of the best experiences of my life.
I have included the final English version of our commercial (we also made one in Spanish).
Why I enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program
I enrolled in the Early Childhood Education(ECE) program at the urging of the people I worked with in childcare settings. I never thought I would study Early Childhood Education in a million years, but I am happy to have gone through it. I love the college experience and would be a student forever if I could. I am interested in child advocacy and psychology, so those are paths that I still ponder.
Carrying what I learned back into the ECE program
I’ve realized that I don’t believe I’m meant to work in daycare settings. I’ve done it for almost two years and don’t think it’s for me. I prefer to work in classroom/school settings more, but I have recently felt that I may be better suited for child advocacy and/or more one-to-one types of careers. It would be good for me to consider gaining even more education. Not only do I love learning, but the opportunities it creates keeps me on my toes and inspired. I just want to do right by the children. They deserve the best starts possible and will eventually grow up to lead our societies. I want to assist in creating a better future.
If you want to further your education and join the Early Childhood Education program, SGEI is the place for you. Apply today!