Student/Faculty Bios

Learn more about the students who were part of the Design Abroad: Costa Rica 2019 class:

Name: Davis Ladouceur

Program: Industrial Design


I am a third year Industrial Design student at OCAD University. During my academic design career, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to the concept of participatory design. This connection was only reaffirmed in my involvement in OCADU’s first off-site class working with a sewing group part of the Toronto Centre of Learning and Development (TCL&D). My participation in the program really changed my perspective on the practical advantages of conferred in the acquisition of design-based knowledge.The chance to regularly work and engage meaningfully with the women of the sewing group gave the first-hand experience necessary to translate theoretical design applications into the real world. I want to bring my experience from this project and help provide a co-operative and mutually beneficial learning environment in which we will be able to help create and design systems that will help sustain the El Cocal environment. The main reason I chose to join this group is to have the chance to help the people of El Cocal learn new skills and solve a major problem while creating new opportunities for them.

Name: Adé Abegunde

Program: Environmental Design


Hello! I’m Adé. I’m currently in my third year of OCAD U’s Environmental Design program with a minor in Sustainability. Design, to me is everything. I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how I can harness its power to create change. In my free time, I enjoy learning new things and documenting the events primarily  through photos and videos. I aspire to one day use the knowledge I have acquired to develop creative solutions to improve the quality of life and living in my home country, Nigeria.

I believe that as an upcoming designer in today’s society, it is very important for me to apply the tenets of critical design in my practice. I am very excited about the Design Abroad program because it presents a real-life opportunity to practice the skills I am learning to help a community develop a system that works for them, specifically for them.

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Name: Andrew Lopez

Program: Environmental Design


Hi, my name is Andrew Lopez.  I will be entering my third year of Environmental Design at OCAD next year.  My interests primarily lie in the creation of spaces and the fostering of places; whether it may be via design, policy, or action.  The chance to be a part of this adventure is an exciting way of experiencing precisely that, in an exciting environment where we can also learn from the people we engage with to make us better designers.

Design Studio abroad will give us a great opportunity to be exposed to the problematic realities facing communities such as El Coccal, some of which may be issues that are likely experienced in several areas of the world.  I look forward to being part of this group, and I look forward to engaging with locals in Participatory Design.

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Name: Ghazal Elmizadeh

Program: Environmental Design

Hi I am Ghazal and I have just completed my second year and entering third year next semester. I was born in Iran in the main city of Tehran and moved to Toronto as a family about nine years ago. I think my passion for architecture started when I started to ask simple questions about our cities and the people whom are living within them. Breaking down these questions and working towards creating better situations to live in for the society is something that can only be possible through collective thinking rather then individual ones.I think this is a great opportunity for me to work in a group and tackle with real life problems. It is also a good time for me to step out the academic setting and  finally apply the things I have learned so far in a more professional environment.I have provided my recent project below.screenshot-5



I cant wait to work with all of you guys!

Name: Merryn Connelly-Miller

Program: Illustration


Hello! My name is Merryn and I’m in my third year (or thereabouts) of the Illustration program at OCAD. I enjoy observing this world we find ourselves in, and I try my best to imbue a little bit of its vibrancy into my work. More and more, I’m trying to focus my efforts on telling stories that question deeply-ingrained systems of thought and which have a social and environmental conscience. I also believe wholeheartedly in the importance of working collaboratively in community-driven spaces, which makes this project in Costa Rica so exciting to me.

In recent years I’ve become more aware of my own impact on the environment, and I’m interested to learn from the people of El Cocal how global habits of consumption are impacting their community. I think this will be a great chance to think about what concrete steps can be taken to curb some of these effects, and I’m looking forward to working with the community and my peers to create solutions. It’ll be great to work with students of other disciplines and to learn new methods of approaching these issues in a hands-on, collaborative way.


Name: Kyle Buhler

Program: Graphic Design/Minor in Photography


Howdy, I’m Kyle! I’m in second year graphic design with a minor in photo. I’ve always had a strong passion for photography, which helped spark my interest in other fields of art and design. I attended ACAD some years back in my hometown of Calgary, intent on entering the graphic design stream. After my first year, I decided to take a breather to figure out what I was truly passionate about. Sure enough I set my sights back on graphic design with a fresh outlook, and the move to Toronto for a much needed change of scenery.

I now feel inspired that graphic design can be a gateway to other disciplines of art and design. With the integration of my own photography, I aim to develop a unique personal style, while challenging the preconceived notion of what graphic design is. I also love working in 3-D any chance I can. Hopefully, my multi-disciplinary approach can be an asset to the team and our design challenges at El Cocal. See you all soon!


Name: Zeinab Ahmed

Program: Environmental Design

Hey everyone! I’m Zeinab, a second-year student at OCAD and like most students here, we are extremely passionate about our field of study and creating a change in the built environment. Going into Environmental Design, I’ve always known that everything I will learn and any experiences I may gain will contribute to my on-going goal of promoting and experiencing the culture and history of a certain space through architecture and sustainability.

I was born in Canada but having a background of African descent, I’ve been taught that culture isn’t just a representation of a group of people, it’s also a way of life and without it being present in the environment, as well as the infrastructure, then it is something that will slowly fade away. This is one of the reasons why this project holds a great importance to me. Not only does it give me a chance to work with sustainable design but it also allows me to experience and take part in a strong culture similar yet extremely different to mine. Similar in a sense where its held at such a high value and powerful presence but different in almost every other way.

Working with everyone is going to be a completely new experience for me but it is a welcomed one. I know that I have so much to learn and working with so many talented people of completely different mindsets, fields, and backgrounds will bring me back with a new and better understanding on different perspectives of designing sustainably for the environment. I just hope that my contribution will help create a meaningful difference as I’m sure everyone on this team will.

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Name: Francine Larsen

Program: Industrial Design


For Francine, the perfect pairs in life are peanut butter and jelly and art and design. It is her creative passion that lead her heart to industrial design at OCAD following her studies in landscape design at Fanshawe College. From her works of art, drawings and landscape design she learned that design is scalable and creative thinking that can be solutions based and applied to all aspects of life. After spending a life-changing year in Costa Rica at the age of 18, it shaped the women and designer she is today, touching her soul.

” I always knew I had to go back. I knew I needed to give back to the community that, at such a young age, taught me so many things and helped me grow into the woman I am today.”

Her dream life is to spend the summers working in the garden and winter designing. It does not matter what the challenge is, Francine will take an idea, curate thoughtful interpretations and pour her heart into it until it’s her masterpiece. But every great artist needs to find inspiration and recharge their creativity when Francine is not in her studio or the garden, she is on the river float fishing, or snoozing in the sun… which is why this trip …

Name: Mackenzie Southey

Program: Environmental Design


Hey everyone, my name is Mackenzie Southey. I am going into my third year of Environmental Design. My journey to OCAD started as a child travelling through the Ontario wilderness. Going on canoeing and sea kayaking trips enhanced my appreciation for the natural environment and gave me an outside perspective of city life. This appreciation for the outdoors and my love for the arts is what lead me to OCADs design program so I could learn to combine the two together. Observing and learning the way design changes how humanity and nature interact with one another has increased my intrigue for designing with the goal of Sustainability.

Going on this adventure to Costa Rica is such a unique opportunity to learn from my peers in upper years and disciplines,  as well as the El Cocal community.  As a team, we can achieve and design evolving solutions that will be long-lasting and maintained by the local residents. I look forward to applying the skills I have learned from OCAD, working with the diverse team of students on this project and learning from the community of El Cocal.

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Name: Henry McGuire

Program: Industrial Design


Hi. I’m Henry. About to start my third year in ID at OCAD. This will be my second degree, the first is a college degree in audio engineering. I have a fairly diverse background, my parents worked for the UN so I grew up moving to a lot of different countries. I love making things by hand, figuring out how things work, and research. My main interests as a designer are on the sustainability side of things, as I think protecting the environment needs to be one of the top priorities in everything we do. I believe that design has a massive ability for positive change, and I’m excited to be a part of it and help out however I can.

Traveling, and working together as a group and with the community should be a really interesting way for us to test and improve our design skills, and I’m very excited to be part of this program.


Name: Nash Escalada

Program: Industrial Design



My name is Nash, and I have just completed my fourth year of Industrial Design. I have been lucky enough to have worked with a multi-disciplinary team of engineers at General Motors for a total of 14 months. During my time at General Motors, I got to experience first-hand the power of cross-functional collaboration, as well as the responsibility that comes with developing real products and services for real consumers. I truly believe that working in Costa Rica will be an invaluable opportunity to work collaboratively and combine our unique and shared skill sets to create and implement a sustainable contribution to the community of Quepos and El Cocal.

Along with creativity, my passion lies in service design. Later on in my schooling, I came to realize that the act of creating physical products that would eventually end up being disposed of did not align with my values and ethos. Service design allows me to meet and fulfill the user’s same needs and desires through the consumption of physical products but through the intangible design of engaging and compelling experiences. This is why I am so excited to contribute to the development of a system that will produce no waste, but instead help manage it.

I look forward to the ideas that will be generated, the connections that will be made, and to see the impact of our hard work.

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Name: Ashley Afful

Program: Environmental Design


Hi all, my name is Ashley Afful and I just completed my second year of Environmental Design. I was born in Canada to Ghanaian parents and am the eldest of two children. Growing up I was always involved in some aspect of art and design, but never really knew what field I wanted to go into until grade 11, when a friend mine opened me up to the idea of architecture, of which at the time, I unknowingly loved.

This program to me, had the best of both worlds; art, design, and the spatial environment. My interests would further grow during second year when I learned about Sustainable Design, and our opportunity as students and future workers to fight for a more sustainable future. So, when the chance to design in Costa Rica came up, I saw a great opportunity to make a little change for the bigger picture.

This project, act of travelling, and working with a big group of people, is a huge step out of my comfort zone mentally and physically, as I’m a pretty soft-spoken person and this will be the biggest excursion I will be on, but I know this will be a step in the right direction to push myself design and life wise. With the things I have learned so far, I hope to provide positively to the team and learn new perspectives and skills from others.

I look forward to working with you all!

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Name: Octavio Andres Caceres

Program: Graphic Design


Hi, I’m Octavio Caceres and I am a 4th year Graphic Design student, who has just completed my thesis. I have a deep connection with my Caribbean-Latino culture being half Chilean, half Trinidadian. Therefore I believe this opportunity of studying abroad in Costa Rica will be a great way of taking the knowledge I’ve gained from my thesis experience and opening it up to a new path with a specific Latin American country and obviously the chance at being able to design with the Costa Rican community to have a great impact on the environment would be an amazing thing to be a part of.

As my true passion lies in futbol (or soccer) I am extremely excited to be able to work in a team of multiple disciplines so that we would all be able to learn and teach each others skills similarly to how people from different positions in sports can do the same.

Although my knowledge of waste management solution is somewhat limited to this project, I
believe that as a designer I would be able to adapt to the challenges at hand; seeing as a main principal of design is to problem solve.

Pura Vida,

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Name: Zaiah Briscoe

Program: Graphic Design


Hey there! My name is Zaiah [zay-ah] Briscoe and I am a 4th year Graphic Design student at OCAD University. Equipped with a big heart and even bigger hair I was born in Canada and I come from Jamaican, Cuban, and Irish decent. I became keenly interested in graphic design and video production from a very young age. As I was voluntarily making documentaries, teaching myself to use Photoshop by the age of 10 then later participating in my first medical mission to rural Jamaica with Toronto East General at the age of 14.

Growing up with 2 special needs brothers it truly shaped how I see and interact with the world, naturally caregiving I knew I had to find a career discipline that allowed me to use my creativity for social change. The area of design I find most interesting is inclusive design and designing for the healthcare field, as I my passion lies in searching for creative ways to improve the quality people’s lives.

Participating in the Design Abroad course is an amazing opportunity to experience design through a different culture as well as test the boundaries of my own creative development. I introduce myself as a graphic designer but I like to think of myself more as a creative problem solver. I am driven, compassionate and I believe bring enthusiasm, motivation, critical thinking and communication to the project. I am excited and grateful to be a part of a team full likeminded designers working together to create a positive impact for the community of El Cocal.



Name: Maria Vieira Fresco

Program: Industrial Design


When I started at OCAD, quite frankly I was clueless of what the future had to show me. I had an idea of what the course was about, but these last three years have proven to me that Industrial Design will not just be a job, but a career to uplift others, and improve quality of life. I see however how there is such a fine line between the previous and meaningless work. Coming from a Portuguese background, and because I experienced most of my childhood in Portugal, I can say how the skills I learned would be useful there, but not before I understand how to apply them under the different circumstances the environment around me would have to offer. I believe that as a designer the more we train ourselves to open our view of the world and adapt according to design needs, the better a designer we will be. If there’s something I learned while taking Anthropology and later Compelling Experience Design, is that if we look only at what we want to see, and what we want the answer to be, there can be terrible consequences (biased results, discrimination against certain groups and individuals, and more extremely life and death situations.) We need to really want to look and find design solutions that are meaningful for the ones, we as designers, are designing for. There are no universally accepted constructs. Constructs are created by societies and all societies are different. What works here, might not work there, but vice versa might be different. What works there might work here. Different situations require different design approaches, and I believe that opportunities like this one, will teach all of the involved and I just that.


Name: Sydney Cooling-Sturges

Program: Industrial Design

I just finished my second year of Industrial Design at OCAD University, so I suppose that would make me a third year student now!? Nice! I went into ID because I love working with my hands and exploring creative solutions to various problems – I really want to help other people in some capacity, while utilizing what I’m good at and enjoy doing. Recently, I was in a participatory design class held in Regent Park which was absolutely fantastic, so I can’t wait to be involved in another course on participatory design, but in a completely different place with a different design focus! As I’ve furthered along in my studies, I’ve gotten pretty into the environment and sustainability, so Design Abroad is like the best of both worlds in terms of design for me. I’m really excited to learn from the community members of Quepos, expand my design education, and, most of all, positively impact El Cocal!

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Name: Sarah Tranum

Discipline: Social Innovation Designer


I am an Assistant Professor of Social Innovation Design at OCAD University, where I teach courses within the Faculty of Design. I work with students from across the various design disciplines at OCAD U, including Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Environmental Design, Advertising, Illustration, and Material Art & Design (fibre arts, jewellery design, and ceramics). Social innovation design is imbued within each of my courses as I encourage my students to think through the entire life cycle of their designs and consider the social, environmental, cultural, and financial impacts of their work.

In addition to teaching, I am a practicing designer. I am the founder and director of TrickleUp Design. As a social innovation designer and strategist my goal is to use design and strategy as tools for creating positive social change, whether it’s in my own neighbourhood or on the other side of the globe. I received a master’s degree in design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and my undergraduate degree from Cornell University, where I majored in Policy Analysis & Management. I worked as a microfinance practitioner in the U.S. and Canada assisting new and existing businesses in business planning and obtaining access to capital. I then completed the Institute without Boundaries program in Toronto, where I worked with a multidisciplinary team of designers to rethink the future of global housing design. I have lived and worked on both sides of the border and now call Toronto, home. I founded TrickleUp Design, in order to do the work I want to do — create innovative products and services that have a positive impact in the world.

Envisioning, implementing, and teaching the Design Abroad course is an amazing opportunity to combine my passion for participatory design, international travel, and teaching in the field with a multidisciplinary group of students. It is an honour to work with young designers to help them learn to harness the power of design to create tangible solutions to real world challenges.

Learn more about the students who were part of the Design Abroad: India May 2017 class:

Name: T’mikah Fridal

Program: Advertising Design + Wearable Technology


I am passionate about faith, family, fashion, food and fitness. I am inspired by design, in all of its forms. I plan to pursue a career in fashion design that will incorporate wearable technology as a means to make a social impact on the world. Doing social good should come hand in hand with doing good business and creating good design. Looking forward as a designer, I aspire to increase the quality of life amongst individuals, communities and entire populations. My mantra is to innovate and stimulate minds, travel the world and penetrate the times. Design Abroad India is a life changing experience of which I would be honoured to be apart of. India is somewhere of which I have always wanted to volunteer and give back to the community. There is no greater joy than to give back when you’re in a position to do so. I am passionate about people and doing my part to make a difference in the world. I seek to live a life full of purpose; and Design Abroad India is an opportunity to combine both my passion for community and my passion for design to really make a change. I am extremely driven, and believe that I will bring positivity, motivation, empowerment, creativity and a heart full of passion to the team of designers and the local community. I am excited to be apart of a team of full of likeminded designers who are inspired to come together and create a meaningful impact in India.

culture . colour . creativity . carnival . calypso :: LED carnival costume


unapologetically BLACK . unapologetically WOMAN :: Black Lives Matter surveillance jacket

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bäbä :: wearable baby wrap malnutrition tracker


Name: Alyssa Haggstrom

Program: Environmental Design

Hello, I am an Environmental Design student now entering my third year of studies. Overall, I enjoy working in various media and exploring the large variety that design allows for. I am especially intrigued by the effects that architecture and the spaces we design can have on people. I like to observe human behavior and our interaction with structures as well as the outside. Something that I have recently become more keen about is landscape architecture and focusing on bringing harmony between design and nature.

I am deeply excited to enter India’s culture and to be able to design within a completely new context. I can only imagine the knowledge and experiences we will gain from this trip!





Name: Michael Neal

Program: Environmental Design


I’m a second year Environmental Design student who has always had an interest in architectural design and spaces. I’m always thankful to have the opportunity to study and pursue my passions in Toronto, but exposing myself to new cultures and surroundings is something I always look forward to doing. Developing a better understanding of the wants and needs of others while in India is an experience I hope can help me develop as a creative thinker and design for larger impacts. Photography is what I enjoy doing the most when I’m not working on assignments, as it motivates me to explore the city and familiarize myself with the places and people that make it great.




Name: Madeleine Bailey

Program: Industrial Design


Hello! I am a second year industrial design student and am interested in pushing my creativity and designing in unconventional ways. I am passionate about solving problems and making objects that are both beautiful and functional.  I am excited to assimilate and learn from the people of Goa.Travel presents the amazing opportunity to learn from new environments, I am excited to challenged both personally and academically. I want to grow in my understanding and empathy in hopes that my designs are able to meet the needs of the community.


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Name: Liza Tawadrous

Major: Industrial Design


About Me: I am a second year Industrial Design student. I entered the design field in hope to design products that are not only aesthetically appealing but serve a purpose to the community it is being used in. I believe that the small change each student strives to attain  will eventually help the world become more peaceful and loving.

I am interested in traveling to explore and learn more about different cultures. I believe that this opportunity will expand my knowledge and help me be a better designer.

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Name: Jacob Cogan

Major: Industrial Design


About Me:

I am a 2nd year Industrial Design student at OCAD University.  My work is always grounded in how we can help people live happier lives, and often challenges preconceptions in terms how we see habits, lifestyles, and social structures.  That being said, right now my interests are constantly expanding, and my direction continually being rediscovered.

I strongly believe in being mindful of one’s contributions to the world, and finding balance between innovative technologies and delightful experiences.


Name: Megan Krahn

Program: Industrial Design


I am a 2nd year Industrial Design student at OCADU. I am passionate about politics, economics, infrastructure, and publicly shared goods/services. Through my work in the Design Abroad: India program I hope to strengthen my understanding of the world and different design approaches and solutions. I hope to contribute skills and enthusiasm in any way that I am able, and continuously be challenged to better my own understanding of meaningful and holistic design processes.

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Thank you!

Name: Melih Yazıcı

Program: Industrial Design


Hi, folks! I am a second year Industrial Design student at OCAD University. My design perspective is pretty wide but my passion in design is to create organic and extraordinary shapes. As a student, I am still trying to figure out what I would like to do in the future and I think “Design Abroad: India” program will be an eye-opening experience for me in terms of understanding the effects of culture on design. I believe that going into another environment and collecting information from the field can provide so much for designers to create solutions for the existing problems and also affect/improve the designer’s understanding of design.

Lastly, I love trains.


Name: Genevieve Hunter

Major: Industrial Design


I have recently completed my 3rd year in Industrial Design. My passion is solving design problems, whether the solution is a product or a system/service. As a designer, I have a social responsibility to develop cost effective solutions with the most positive impact. I have a particular interest in sustainability and healthcare design. I would like to apply my design thinking within these industries to make continuous and innovative improvements in the quality of the user experience.

Design is the most primitive form of research. This helps me understand all the factors that the design can affect, and can enable opportunity. The Design India Abroad Program will be beneficial to me as I approach my thesis year, as it will provide me the with first hand experience working with a community and a multidisciplinary team.

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groshey poster

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(group project with Julia Babici & Afam Ume)

Learn more about the students who were part of the Design Abroad: India May 2015 class:

Name: Kersti Nurka

Program: Industrial Design


Hey Everyone! I’m Kersti and I am a third year Industrial Design student.The greatest thing about being a designer, is that we use our hands, head and heart; our own emotions to connect with the hearts so that people will want what we created. I have always wanted to design products that would be beneficial to humanity, a product that would change people’s way of living. Design Abroad India will be a great opportunity, as I will get to see the world through the eyes of a different culture. In my two years at OCAD i have learned a lot about how design should always have an environmental, social and economic impact on the world. I have started to realize that we as designers should stop designing for consumerism and start designing with sustainability in mind.

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Name: Rachel Hurst

Program: Graphic Design


I am a third year graphic design student with interests in travel, literature, music, sociology and gender studies.Within my graphic design practise I like to work with the engagement of tactile objects, I consider the experience that my audience has with my pieces and how they can be enhanced not only through sight but through touch. I feel this stands out for as not only being a designer for aesthetic value but one that considers multiple experiences that the audience can have with art. I am driven by concept and research when it comes to implementing design. What excites me the most about this study in India is seeing how our collaborative designs can be representative of a life, community, and culture outside of our own.

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Name: Melis Tokgoz

Program: Industrial Design


My name is Melis Tokgoz, and I’m a third year Industrial Design student at OCAD University. As a design student, I want to use my practice to empower people, and make a positive social impact. I also have a passion for travel, and dream of experiencing all the culture the world has to offer. Design Abroad: India is the perfect opportunity for me to expand my design abilities, while simultaneously travelling to a country that I’m excited to visit and learn more about. Throughout my education, I have begun to learn the social, environmental, and economic impacts design can have on the world. Design Abroad: India is a unique experience that can take that education even further. I’m excited to see my design practice on a global scale, and to learn how to create implementable, appropriate, and beneficial solutions through participatory design.



Name: Ariel Riske

Program: Advertising


Hi I’m Ariel, an Advertising Design graduate and avocado enthusiast. My last name is a lot to live up to; I think that safe is synonymous with boring and that no idea is too crazy or ambitious if it’s grounded in human truth. I believe that pushing boundaries and getting uncomfortable is the first step to creating great work. I design with people in mind and recognize that concept comes before execution and that form follows function. I am passionate about feminism and social equality, and strongly feel that we have a responsibility as designers to shape the way the world views these issues. I’m excited to gain a new cultural outlook and to use my strengths as a designer and writer for social good.

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Name: Alireza Saffari

Program: Environmental Design

I am a third year Environmental Design student at OCAD University, and I’m eager to begin the experience the Design Abroad: India course will offer me. I want to further my understanding of South Asian culture, and I believe the experience will help me diversify my future design concepts. Most of my designs focus on collaborating Western culture with Eastern culture, and I hope to develop this concept in my future works. In the Environmental Design program, a lot of the projects are group work, and this is beneficial to the design process because multiple perspectives are necessary to create a design that is understood by multiple audiences. India is rich in its culture due to its diversity of color, materials, ideas and the way of life. I have always wanted to visit India, however, to this date I have been unable to.

I am excited to immerse myself into a culture that is different from what I am accustomed to. I think understanding different cultures are pivotal when trying to become a successful designer. I believe that it is important to understand the context of the site and situation while designing, and I think traveling to India will be a great challenge for me.

Name: Natassja Addeo

Major: Environmental Design


I have recently completed my second year at OCAD U in the Environmental Design program and I am quickly approaching my third. Throughout my education at OCAD U I have developed the understanding of designing for the user, whether it is two-dimensional or three- dimensional design. The environmental design program prepares me to analyze spaces and understand how people will interact within the space that is designed. It is important to design in context and address the needs and desires of the people who will ultimately be using the design. Design Abroad: India will allow me to collaborate with my peers, and work directly with a community to design in a regional context. I am excited to participate in the Design: Abroad India because we have learned so much about designing for an imaginary audience, and I can take what I have learned so far and apply it when designing for a community.

This is my first time traveling outside of North America, and it will be the longest journey that I have taken on a plane. I’m excited to immerse myself in a culture that I am not familiar with and I’m ready to experience the opportunities that Goa will bring me!



Name: Frances Chou

Major: Drawing and Painting

Hi! I am a second year student. It’s my first time to India. I’ve already been in India for 4 days. For now, I am in my honeymoon phase with India. Everything went quite well. I hope that the honeymoon will last as long as possible, at least one month. Though I join this program enthusiastically, I still have no idea what I could possibly do for the community here in GOA. But I believe in our group, things will come up in one way or another. And I am a part of it.


Name: Bonita Mak

Major: Graphic Design


My name is Bonita, I am a multidisciplinary graphic designer based in Toronto. I recently completed my third year at OCADU and am excited for this experience in India to positively impact my role as a designer. I look forward to working with other designers and members of the community to unfold creative design opportunities.

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Name: Yinan Ma

Major: Industrial Design

Hi I’m Yinan, I’m a design student with vision to make things better. I set out in industrial design because I wanted to know how I can make things and the lives they affect better. I had studied accounting and was admittedly scared of the prospect of grinding life away while not being able to be part of big things happening in the world. Then I discovered industrial design through idle browsing of videos and articles on the internet and became amazed. It promised a career where I would be able to create things that people would love and through those things change the reality of the world.

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Name: Deanna Burns

Major: Sculpture and Instillation

Hello! My name is Deanna, I am a second year sculpture/instillation student at OCADu. I’m on my way! I cannot wait to experiences new cuisine, art, and culture, and the opportunity to discover a new part of the world.  As a synchronized swimmer, I had the privilege of traveling to Peru and Germany to represent Canada. My experiences there really opened my eyes; I became motivated to appreciate, rather than criticize, the differences I encountered. Traveling India is a perfect opportunity to continue to hone my observational skills and collaborate with others on real-life design solutions in the motivational setting of beautiful Goa.

Name: Ambika Pharma

Major: Environmental Design


I’m a fourth year Environmental Design major, entering into my final year at OCAD U. During my time at this institution I have been exposed to design problems at the global scale, from issues involved with sustainable practices to the intricacies of socio-cultural states. I have learned the value of approaching design problems through conceptual and theory-based frameworks and how to translate ideas into physical manifestations. When designing for the built environment I find that the social and cultural state of a community or region is paramount to finding a responsive and lasting solution to any given design challenge. Due to the nature of an academic education a large sum of my exposure to design work has been off-site and primarily focused on an end design versus a participatory process. This Design Abroad program is personally a unique opportunity to establish a direct, and communal dialogue between multidisciplinary artists and designers, a local community and myself.



Name: Christian Tymec

Major: Advertising


Hi, I’m Christian — an OCADU Advertising graduate with a passion for travel. I have dreams of living in every city and seeing every country. Being a designer/artist allows me to study the world and objects around me in a critical fashion. I have a deep affection for trying to immerse myself in different cultures/infrastructures to better understand the way people live in parts of the world other than my own, and I get to meet all sorts of personalities along the way. In my program I have become fond of strategizing/research, copywriting and graphic design, but have always felt a pull away from the computer to get back to the craft and work/make with my hands. A product of this means I also illustrate and try to incorporate that into my works. Design Abroad: India is a program that allows me to congregate my education and passions into one very rich experience.

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Name: Naya Choi

Major: Industrial Design


Hi, all! Call me Naya, I am a second year industrial design student. Leaving my family behind, two years ago, I came from a very small town in beautiful British Columbia to Toronto seeking for greater opportunities.

In the society that we live in, we are trapped in a state of mundane acceptance, so well-versed in the conversation of what is happening on the other side of the world, but ignorantly and idly standing by. Now the question is, how can I contribute as a designer? Contributing by creating more things in a world full of needless things? Or contributing by understanding the things we have, who really needs it, and how can I use that understanding to even change one’s life and, hopefully, maybe even the world. I choose the second.

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Learn more about the students who were part of the Design Abroad: India May 2014 class:

Name: Hannah Paquette

Major: Advertising


About Me:

I’m a rural Ontario native hailing from Mulmur Township, with one foot in the country, one in the city and dreams of travelling the world. I see my design practice as many things and it is this multifaceted nature that I love. Advertising affords me opportunities to shine light on great ideas through insightful campaigns, breath life into my own entrepreneurial imaginings, and be a perpetual student of design pushing boundaries and conceiving the inconceivable. I am currently enamored with non-traditional advertising to niche markets but I love cleaver print as much as the next adwoman. I hope that the Design Abroad course will introduce me to new perspectives, new people, and ultimately a new way of approaching design, while also fulfilling my relentless desire for adventure.
Fear is at the root of all good decisions so India promises great things.


Name: Kathryn Wong

Major: Illustration


About Me:

I am in my third year of the Illustration program at OCADU.  Before OCAD I went to Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in Scarborough, and then I did a year of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Western Ontario.  When creating my illustrations, I really enjoy working with my hands however I am slowly becoming more open to digital processes.  My favourite pieces are multimedia, where I can explore a variety of patterns and textures.  Apart from illustration, painting is also a huge passion of mine.  When I’m not creating artworks, you’ll find me cuddling my dogs and cat, swimming or finding a new hiking trail to explore.  Can’t wait to see what India brings.   

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Name: Ali Ogston

Major: Advertising

About Me:

On paper I’m a 3rd year OCADU advertising student, off it I’m a travel junkie, an avid reader and lover worshiper of food. My design work focuses on communication, and over the years I’ve discovered that real human insight is what makes for good conversation. My goal is to create work that is honest and raw, igniting human emotions… but also has some utility in a person’s life. If something isn’t useful, we throw it away.
I don’t create work destined for a garbage can.

They say that travel teaches you to see, so my hope is that our adventure to India will give me a better set of eyes- ones that can refocus my ability to create with and for others. I look forward to immersing myself in the vibrant and unique culture of India, and can’t begin to say how excited I am to meet and learn from the people.

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Name: Emily Boros-Rausch

Major: Material Art and Design, Textiles


About Me:

I am a 3rd year student in fibers and minoring in photography; I am interested in incorporating encaustic painting and photography into my fiber practice. A major theme in my work is up-cycling and working with environmentally friendly materials. My work is mainly inspired by nature and culture.

I am so excited to go on this adventure to India and for the opportunity to design in the real world. I look forward to working in a team of students from different faculties. I plan on bringing lots of material back with me for my thesis in the fall!



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Name: Henry Zhang

Major: Environmental Design

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About Me:

I am currently finishing my 3rd year of study at OCAD. I have always believed in the power of inspiration and the strength of our human spirit. Therefore throughout the years of my study at OCAD or in my personal life, I have always tried to find meaning in what I do and how it will make a difference. I have always been genuinely interested in people, specifically in the realm of spiritual wellness: How do people feel about themselves? Why do people feel that way? What incites passion in them about who they are and how they feel? What do they believe in?

I am immensely excited to learn and explore the historically and culturally rich country of India. I look forward to the people I will meet and stories I will discover and be apart of. I hope my background and experience will add values to the team and ultimately contribute to the overall result.

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Name: Brittany Paquin

Major: Sculpture and Installation


About Me:

During my second year at OCADU I’ve been able to explore textures and forms of all shapes and sizes. I’m currently in a complete love affair with installation work and design. Sculpture has enabled me to understand how materials move and understand each other. I love testing material limits and the process work behind my ideas.

I am extremely excited for our next up and coming adventure to India. The opportunity to design, work and learn somewhere out of my own element is such an incredible gift. I can’t wait to brainstorm and connect with the creative minds of my fellow team members in this program.

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Name: Nicole Marie Rebello

Major: Environmental Design

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About Me;

I am a second year student in the Environmental Design program, living in Mississauga. Being Indian by origin, but Canadian by birth, I have always felt close ties to India and felt a longing to go back to see family and friends and continue to experience and learn more about its culture. One of my life mottos is “always experience new things.” Whether it is travelling to new places or simply trying a new dish at a restaurant, I always try push myself to try new things.

In Environmental Design most of our projects involve working in teams and it is interesting to note everyone’s perspectives and creative ideas. I am looking forward to working with students from different disciplines and hoping to learn a lot of new experience and skills.  Participatory design is a relatively new concept to me. It is an approach to design that attempts to actively involve all citizens, users and people involved. I look forward to putting this concept to work during our trip to India.


Name: Tariqa Manji
Major: Graphic Design


About Me:

My name is Tariqa Manji and I am a 4th year graphic design student. I am interested in both print and digital media and like combining graphic design alongside illustration and other hand rendered elements such as typography. I like to experiment with different media and tools and enjoy seeing how far I can go with a particular concept.

Through my four years at OCADU, I have learned about framing design problems and designing solutions through visual communication. The opportunity to travel to India would allow me to learn and collaborate with other designers, while being part of a design team that is working towards finding long lasting solutions. It is a great opportunity to learn about a different culture and a new way for me personally to step out of my comfort zone.




Name: Matthew Sabloff

Major: Graphic Design


About Me:

I am a 3rd Graphic Design major, originally from Montreal. I moved to Toronto from Montreal as a stepping stone towards gaining new experiences, wether it be professional or social. The Design Abroad program to India is the ultimate opportunity to experience a culture that I am deeply interested in while exercising my skills in design.

I have not yet had the opportunity to approach graphic design, or design as a whole, as a problem solving activity which could ultimately provide social impact. Travelling to India to participate in this program will not only impact the communities that I hope to come to experience and be a part of, but it will influence change in myself. I truly have a passion for my field and for travel; this trip will give me the ability to experience both on a social and ethical level that I could not achieve on my own accord.




Name: Sonali Ghosh

Major: Advertising

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About Me:

I am a 2nd year Advertising student originally from Montreal, I have been living in Toronto for just over 2 years now. I love designing and coming up with new ideas and concepts that will make you think. I am really looking forward to travelling to India for design; along with being able to help others through the design process, it will definitely be an eye opening experience for all of us on this journey. Also, group work is incredibly stimulating for me, I really enjoy seeing the outcome of design collaboration and what our different perspectives can achieve.

Over the past few years I have explored a few different areas of interest, in regards to design. Possibilities for design is never ending; that’s why I love advertising, it encourages conceptual thinking with solutions that come in many different shapes and sizes. To me, design is more than just function and form, it’s the perfect marriage of the two. But more than that, it’s how it makes people feel.

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Tenfold Dress

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Bixi Docker

Learn more about the students who were part of the Design Abroad: India May 2013 class:

Name: Michael Lewis

Major: Industrial Design

About Me:

I am 3rd year Industrial Design major. Currently I have found a large interest in how furniture can be used for situational and adaptational learning in classroom environments which ties in the aspect of architecture. Particularly the behavioural engagements with classrooms. My skill set can range from conceptual to realistic depending on the foresight of the project and its tangibility.  Like most students at OCAD U I enjoy working in a more physical ways that remembering and doing test, AKA I like modelling and drawing haha.

I am very open to new ideas and expanding thoughts so I believe this trip will offer a lot of new ideations and opportunities. Not to mention a little bit of collaboration from a school that talks so much about it, but know one really knows people outside there major. Lets pool all our great ideas together and do what we do best as we are all multifaceted.

Name: Kylie Thompson

Major: Material Art and Design, Textile

About Me:


I am 4th year material arts and design major. As an artist/design working in fibre I am compelled to think of the social significance of the material and how that relates to the larger concept. For me, working in fibre has kindled my passion for topics in feminism and contemporary social issue.

I am crazy excited to start our studies in India. I feel this course will be a great opportunity to meet and connect with new people, and also to experience design in the real world. After 5 years at ocadu I’m looking forward to finally feeding my lust for travel.

Name: Maya Das Gupta

Major: Industrial Design

About Me:

Prior to OCAD, I explored humanities, biology and engineering at UofT. Throughout my interests kept coming back to design, so I decided to take a leap of faith and apply to OCAD.

To me, design is the perfect merger of art, science and human interaction.  It extracts from multiple disciplines and learning from different experiences and views.  It’s through this, using empathy and insights from each other that design is at its strongest – managing to tell stories while also solving problems. Design should be responsible, as it can be powerful in its simplicity and in its ability to provoke massive change, in every aspect of its process.

Going to India for this collaboration is a chance to test myself and my philosophy of design as a partnership. How can we use design to be a language to empower and find solutions together? I’m excited at the opportunity to learn from both the local communities and my fellow designers.

Name: Zimeng Yu

Major: Drawing and Painting

About Me:


My name is Zimeng Yu. I am in 4th year of drawing and painting. I am originally from China, and haven lived in Canada for 5 years. My work is like a journey in searching of my identity among the others. Material plays an important role in my work, and observation is my starting point of my research. Design in India program offers me a good opportunity to experience another unique culture, to expand my communication with others, and at the same time, to help me to understand myself more.

Looking forward to have the trip with all of you! ^~ ^

Name: Vanessa Hausman

Major: Environmental Design

About Me:

Hi my name is Vanessa Hausman and my major is Environmental Design.

I am very excited to travel to India for the first time and work with all of you and the local community there. I love to travel and discover new meaningful experiences in different places, especially when it is something involving design. My philosophy on design is to always create simple and functional design with the essentials and not the excess. I am looking forward to learning from other designers and community members on this trip. Oh and I can’t wait to try new Indian food!

Name: Felipe Sarmiento

Major: Graphic Design/Minor in Photography

About Me:

My name is Felipe Sarmiento, I am from Colombia and I have lived in Canada for 6 years. I am a major in Graphic Design and I am working on my minor in photography. I have a passion to represent the complexity in simple objects that we encounter daily.

I love how my mind works; sometimes it doesn’t stop thinking of how I could give my artwork and extra edge, bringing it to the next level. Even if I am doing something completely dif­ferent, really deep inside me my head is working like a chocolate factory, making treats for my imagination without stopping. Imagination and dedication is the pillar of my work.

I am stoke about Design Abroad India: to experience the culture, learn and meeting new people. But especially I hope this trip could help me gather more experience in the field of photojournalism.

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Name: Arielle Bourret-Klein

Major: Sculpture and Installation

About Me:


I am Arielle Bourret-Klein

My major is sculpture and installation with a minor in integrated media.

I am extremely excited and looking forward to the experience and the new knowledge I will be learning in India. I love being part of a community and being invited to be part of another is a great honour. My work usually involves sculpture or installation pieces that provokes a person’s specific emotion or a study on how different situations effects a person’s reaction. I hope this trip will open new possibilities to my practice by learning how to think as a designer and by learning from the culture.

Name: Monifa Charles-Dedier

Major: Environmental Design/Minor in Photography

About Me:

Don’t look too hard, but you will find traces of the events of the night prior.  Primary colours embedded under the finger nails. Streaks of paint smeared on the forearms as I roll up my sleeves at my full time job. The thought process is chaotic and unfocused, but organized.They might find out that all I want to do is create!

I love creating the built environment and my own own environment through paint and multi-media. Design is influenced by our environment as much as we are and am excited to be able to design in a place that is unfamiliar. I am enthusiastic about Design Abroad India and excited to learn, design, experience the culture, meeting new people and to travel outside of north America.

Name: Anna Kolesnikova

Major: Environmental Design

About Me:

An opportunity to make a meaningful difference appeals to me more than designing lavishes for the corporate industry. I strive to think in systems as our presence on the planet is not isolated, and every action has an impact within the larger network; and I try to apply it in my design practice and personal life. Similarly, in this course I aspire to contribute to long-term solutions that empower the individuals to be the force of change for themselves and their communities. Also, I’m fascinated by their culture, and I’ll try not to explode from excitement…I’m looking forward to the exploration, adventure, nature and culture.