2016 - 07 July


International Spotlight

AHLEI Welcomes New Academic Partners in Vietnam and Mexico

AHLEI Color Academic Partner Global Academic Partner (GAP) schools use AHLEI's hospitality training, education, and professional certification resources to develop current and future hospitality professionals in their areas of the world.  This spring, AHLEI welcomed the following new GAP schools:   

Kent International College in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, will offer AHLEI's 12-course hospitality management diploma in its program, which will also include practical training for students in area 3-star properties, and internship modules at 5-star hotels and resorts. At the signing ceremony for the partnership, Kent International College chancellor Robert Hartcher stated, "Coming along with Vietnam joining the ASEAN Economic Zone in 2015 are transnational job opportunities for Vietnamese students."  Ms. Pham Thanh Ha, representing Elite Hospitality Group, AHLEI's Hospitality Education Program (HEP) partner in Vietnam, noted that "The international recognition for AHLEI programs will be the leverage for students to score interviews with international recruiters."

Hotel & Culinary University of the Americas in Playa del Carmen Quintano Roo, Mexico, will begin offering AHLEI courses in August.  Describing itself as a "boutique university," the school offers small classes and one-on-one teaching and experiential learning, located in one of Mexico's leading tourism destinations. The campus features a working hotel lobby, restaurant, kitchen, and guest rooms, as well as classrooms and other learning spaces.  The founder and rector of the university is Mauricio Algazi, who has a long career as a hospitality educator. He is a previous AHLEI partner, and in 2001 was awarded AHLEI's Lamp of Knowledge Award for Outstanding International Educator.

Workforce Spotlight

Niagara University Program Prepares Refugees for Hospitality Jobs

Niagra Hospitality at the Falls When students begin the program at Niagara University's Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute, they may have never seen the inside of a hotel.  By the time they graduate eight weeks later, they are ready to be employed at a local property. 

The Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute is a collaborative venture between Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management and Catholic Charities of Buffalo's Immigration & Refugee Assistance Program.  The program is part of the university's Edward A. Brennan Center for Language, Culture, and Leadership, under the direction of Dr. Deborah T. Curtis, CMP. 

"We have a terrific partnership," said Curtis. "Catholic Charities of Buffalo is the largest receiver of refuges in western New York, and Niagara University has a reputation for not only for excellence in hospitality and tourism education, but a commitment to international education through the Brennan Center. Together, we provide a great opportunity for refugees and for hoteliers in our area." 

The program began in March 2015, and is currently working with its fifth group of students, with classes ranging from seven to 15 members. The Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute runs five days a week for six weeks. Students spend five weeks in the classroom and one week in internships. The course of study includes the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's Guest Service Gold® training and the National Restaurant Association's ServSafe® food handler program, as well as an overview of hospitality operations, workforce skills, and English language instruction.  

"We've put together a curriculum that is guest-service focused, because so many job require excellence in customer service," said Curtis. "Our goal is to place students into long-term jobs. They may be in a hotel or restaurant, or in another customer-service field like health care." 

The students are refugees from around the world-previous groups have included people from Afghanistan, Somalia, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Eritrea. They work with hospitality instructors from Niagara University and employment counselors from Catholic Charities, who also help with job placement for the program's graduates. 

"The students help each other and are very supportive. They are very open to learning new things, even though just being in this country is very new to them," said Curtis.  She noted that part of the program includes a tour of western New York, including Niagara Falls.  For the students who went through the Institute during the winter months (pictured), the experience of cold and snow was part of the curriculum. 

The Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute is funded through a grant from the Statler Foundation, which focuses on service-based training for hospitality.   The Institute works with area properties such as the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown, Courtyard by Marriott Canalside, Embassy Suites by Hilton Buffalo, and the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. 

Majed Farah, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, is himself a refugee, coming to the United States from Syria at the age of 25. He shares his personal journey with students of the Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute to encourage them as they begin their hospitality careers.

"The hospitality industry can open any door for you," he tells students. "Dream big and work for your success.  It doesn't matter what you know or don't know, or if you don't know the language.  Everything can be learned, and even though it's a long process, you can reach your goal.  Never stop dreaming." 

Certification Spotlight

Series of Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE®) Workshops in Philippines Enhance Country’s Hospitality Education Standards

CHE University of Santo Tomas Phillippines Asia World Hospitality , the official representative of American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) in the Philippines, organized and implemented that country's first-ever series of Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE®) workshops in May and June. The workshops were hosted by De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, Lyceum of the Philippines University, and University of Santo Thomas. CHE® candidates who participated in the three workshops included 57 delegates from seven schools and one participant each from City of Dreams and Seda Hotel in Bonifacio Global City. Faculty members represented De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde, Lyceum of the Philippines University, University of Santo Tomas, Our Lady of Fatima University, Cagayan de Oro College - PHINMA Education, University of Iloilo - PHINMA Education, and Woosung University of Korea.  

AHLEI developed the CHE® designation in 1992 and it has become one of the most recognized credentials in hospitality and tourism education as it is the only professional development opportunity designed for post-secondary hospitality educators around the world.  

"The Philippines is eyeing to further develop and upgrade the country's hospitality education industry through these workshops, which are geared towards equipping the local hospitality educators with much-needed skills to be at par with the global standards-the challenges of which have been magnified with the ASEAN integration and the institutionalization of K to 12," explained Machi Borja, director of Asia World Hospitality. "The Department of Tourism has also said recently that they are looking into fostering the growth of the hospitality and tourism industry to align academic programs and industry needs."  

In addition to the workshops, AHLEI and Asia World Hospitality held a train-the-trainer session for three leading hospitality educators selected to become the country's first CHE® Master Trainers. Dr. Lilibeth Aragon, Dean of the College of International Tourism and Hospitality Management, Lyceum of the Philippines University; Ma. Christina Aquino, Executive Director for Planning and Development at Lyceum of the Philippines University and outgoing President of ApacCHRIE and COHREP; and Evangeline Timbang, Chairman of the HRM Department at University of Santo Tomas and former President of ApacCHRIE and COHREP, will be able to conduct future CHE® workshops and exam sessions in the Philippines and elsewhere.  

Globally, more than 3,800 educators who have earned their CHE® designation. Only 14 have been elevated to Master Trainers with the authority to lead the CHE® workshops and exam sessions for AHLEI. 

Asia World Hospitality and AHLEI tapped Fr. Robert Steele, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Auckland, to deliver the milestone workshops. Steele is currently a program leader and a senior lecturer in AUT University, School of Hospitality and Tourism in Auckland, New Zealand, boasting of a 30-year experience in the field of hospitality.  

 "I found a phenomenal group of teachers with exceptional passion and motivation," said Steele. "I am convinced that after the completion of the CHE®, they will be able to bring more value to their schools and students. I wish that hospitality and tourism education in the Philippines will continue to flourish, and this is certainly an important step which should be replicated across the country."  

Ed Kastli, AHLEI's vice president, international sales, applauded Borja's hard work of the past two years that enabled this series of workshops to happen.  "Without her, these workshops would not have been possible as she tirelessly visited, coordinated, negotiated, and fine-tuned all details of the workshops on AHLEI's behalf with the host schools," he said.

A CHE® Master Trainer Like No Other

Father CHE AHLEI's unprecedented series of Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE®) workshops in the Philippines this spring was unusual for two reasons:  it was the first time that a country has offered three CHE® workshops in a row to certify large numbers of hospitality faculty, and, the sessions were led by a man who is both a long-time hospitality professional and a Roman Catholic priest, Father Robert Steele.  Here is his story.  

My introduction to the CHE® happened in 1993 when I was teaching in Bangkok, Thailand, in a small hospitality management institute. That school was teaching the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's (AHLEI) diploma in hospitality management. That was a comprehensive 12-course program (which I had completed myself only several years before) that included all angles of hotel management from front office and housekeeping through accounting and finance to, my favourite, the Art and Science of Hospitality Management. 

I enjoyed teaching hospitality because I had a career background in hotels and came to understand deeply that hospitality was indeed both art and science. In my younger days I studied in a Catholic seminary with the aim of becoming a priest, but I left the seminary not long before ordination and looked toward the world of hotels for a meaningful future. I began as a room service waiter and then worked through all aspects of hotels, ending up in consulting in staff training and development. 

I received word that a new certification had been developed by AHLEI attainable through attending the Certified Hospitality Educator workshop - one was coming up in a few weeks in Hong Kong - that would give me the credential that I craved.  I applied and was accepted into the program. I learned that the CHE® qualification was designed to assist educators of hospitality and institutional programmes in developing a philosophy of education quite unique to our industry given that many of our students were adults. I developed a greater understanding of learners as well as skills and abilities a busy teacher needed in this changing fast-paced world. The hospitality industry was emerging at that time as the largest global employer; the biggest revenue gatherer for any given country. 

I look back at it now with the smile of one who has been through several seasons of change. At that workshop, we 30 participants practiced the correct use of OHPs using coloured pens, helping each other away from drawing stick figures, and discussing the best way to store transparencies so they could be used time and again.  Now of course, the CHE® teaches the latest classroom technology, something I embrace wholeheartedly. The current workshop is a compact one, and intense.  It now covers learning theory, classroom culture, presentation methods and evaluation.  

I earned my CHE® that same year and furthered my qualifications completing the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA®) designation and a two-year master's degree in Hospitality Management at Griffith University on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia, which led to my employment as Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Hospitality Management at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland New Zealand. 

A further opportunity came up when I was invited by AHLEI to be apprenticed to Dr. Fred Mayo in Hong Kong with the aim of conducting CHE® workshops myself. I jumped at the chance. Fred was a marvellous Master and gently pushed me where needed - especially relaxing and enjoying and "mastering" the classroom. He used to tease me about my Kiwi accent and the, in his words, delightful expressions we have, like "Good on you!" whenever I was encouraging a student to perform a little better. I see Fred is still going strong (why is it some people just don't seem to age?!) in the CHE® cause. 

To date, I have conducted around 15 CHE® workshops, all in Southeast Asia: Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, and now in the Philippines.  

I spent 30 years working in hospitality and education and have loved every moment. The apex of every year has been the invitation to conduct another CHE® workshop. The call to become a priest never left me, however, and at the age of 58 I was ordained to the priesthood after a brief return to the seminary while at the same time continuing my CHE® workshops in Asia, thanks to the kindness and encouragement of the Bishop in Auckland. When I recently conducted three workshops in Manila, I was encouraged to identify myself as a priest because the workshops were held in Catholic universities (one a Pontifical University). It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 

My first was at De La Salle University, in the College of St. Benilde. They have an excellent facility including a fully operational training hotel and several restaurants open to all.  Most of the management positions are held on a permanent basis and other duties are completed by students as part of their training. My students were several professors and senior lecturers from that College. 

After almost a week at St. Benilde, I was taken to the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) to conduct the CHE® workshop in their College of International Tourism and Hospitality Management.  Another excellent facility located with the Intramuros - the inner wall, or historic fortress built back in the 15 th century. You travel through ancient gates to reach the university and walk through history with beautifully preserved architecture and historic places.  Manila's Cathedral lies within, as does the famous St. Augustine Convent and Church.  Beautiful! Our workshop was conducted in a modern facility with excellent hotel rooms and facilities open to the public. My students here were also top educators in tourism and hospitality. 

My final workshop was at the University of Santo Tomas' College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Yet again, my students were top educators of our noble industry and we enjoyed learning from each other and sharing each other's joys and fears of teaching. The university was founded in 1611 by Archbishop Miguel de Benavides and was granted privileges in 1645 by Pope Innocent X.  It was also made a Royal University in 1785 by Charles III of Spain.  Pope Leo XIII conferred pontifical status on Santo Tomas University in 1902. It was a privilege teaching in all three universities but of course Santo Tomas was something that touched my heart so deeply. I was given the further honour of celebrating Mass daily at the church within the gates of Santo Tomas, thanks to the gracious invitation of the Dominican fathers and brothers there. 

On June 15, I said farewell to all 60 of my students in the Philippines and returned to my parish in a small town called Pukekohe (the potato growing area) in New Zealand.  Being an educator of educators in the world's largest employing industry is such an honour. And my vocation as a priest? That's where I truly belong.  I'm glad to have had this opportunity to unite them.