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The first Marriott China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI) Teaching Conference at the Renaissance Tianjin Lakeview Hotel aimed to help create world-class hospitality education that will lead to life-changing careers for young people in China’s booming travel and tourism industry. It’s part of a commitment by The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation of 40.5 million RMB ($6.5 million) over five years.
Developed in partnership with global academic and industry experts, CHEI enables Chinese educators and students to gain industry knowledge and real-world experience in hotel operations. CHEI’s portfolio of programmes, piloted in 2013-2014, include faculty internships at local hotels, international fellowships, guest lectures, hotel field trips, research grants and hospitality curricula. Within five years, the foundation anticipates that CHEI will have an impact on 20,000 students annually.
The three-day teaching conference included inputs from educators and representatives of the Marriott Foundation, Marriott International, and San Diego State University, with sessions and interactive workshops presented by educators and leaders from Marriott International and San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Debbie Marriott Harrison, a trustee of the foundation and Marriott International’s global officer of culture and business councils, presented the keynote address about the Marriott family and its deep history and passion for supporting hospitality education.
“Bringing together hospitality educators from across China to learn from, and network with industry leaders and their peers was a wonderful way to wrap up the first year of piloting CHEI programmes,” said Anne Gunsteens, executive director, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “It was exciting to meet educators and hear stories of the impact that CHEI programs are already having on their students.”
Carl H. Winston, managing director of CHEI and director, San Diego State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management said, “This conference was the perfect opportunity to bring CHEI to life in front of programme constituents through education, networking and motivation. For most attendees, this conference provided the first opportunity to network with so many of their peers.”
Simon Cooper, president of Asia Pacific for Marriott International said, “As CHEI’s initial industry advisor, Marriott International and our hotels in China are excited to open our doors to educators and students to learn first-hand about hotel operations. We were delighted to participate in, and host, the first CHEI Teaching Conference.”
Marriott International have long been partners in the International Tourism Partnership’s Youth Career Initiative (YCI) programme. Often pioneering the programme in their hotels around the world including India, Jordan, Mexico, Poland, Costa Rica, Brazil and Romania, the company works with YCI and local NGOs to identify disadvantaged young people with limited prospects to offer them six months of education, training, skills and real life work experience and mentoring within the hotel environment.
The programme has a fantastic success rate with 85% of graduates going on to find careers in hospitality and other sectors, or returning to education. The programme has far-reaching impacts within the communities where it operates, with whole families often being positively affected by the young people’s improved opportunities.
At the CHEI conference, Josie Zhou, teacher of hospitality at Wuhan College of Foreign Languages and Foreign Affairs said, “I gained great insights into the hospitality industry and the exciting opportunities available to my students. The conference sessions provided a bridge for mutual exchange with industry leaders and my peers. This experience will enhance my teaching methods and create a better future for my students.”
Throughout 2014, CHEI will continue to offer guest lectures and field trips for faculty and students. In July, summer internships are commencing for more than 30 teachers from various schools across China. In autumn, three teachers will spend a semester as international CHEI fellows at hospitality schools in the United States. CHEI will also continue to pilot its unique, China-centric hospitality curricula modules.
To learn more about the programme, visit www.CHEI.org.