This month, 80 hospitality educators from 38 vocational schools and universities across mainland China attended the first Marriott China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI) Teaching Conference at the Renaissance Tianjin Lakeview Hotel. CHEI is funded with a commitment by The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation of 40.5 million RMB ($6.5 million) over five years to help create world-class hospitality education that leads to life-changing careers for youth in China’s booming travel and tourism industry.
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 programs, 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 opened with a reception attended by educators and representatives from the Marriott Foundation, Marriott International, and San Diego State University. Following a lion dance and ribbon-cutting ceremony, 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. General sessions and interactive workshops were presented by educators and leaders from Marriott International and San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Tianjin Foreign Studies University graciously hosted a dinner for all attendees at its downtown campus. The conference wrapped up with a gala dinner and presentation of participation certificates for all attendees.
“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 programs,” 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.”
“This conference was the perfect opportunity to bring CHEI to life in front of program constituents through education, networking and motivation,” said Carl H. Winston, managing director of CHEI and director, San Diego State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “For most attendees, this conference provided the first opportunity to network with so many of their peers.”
“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,” said Simon Cooper, president of Asia Pacific for Marriott International. “We were delighted to participate in, and host, the first CHEI Teaching Conference.”
“I gained great insights into the hospitality industry and the exciting opportunities available to my students,” said Josie Zhou, teacher of hospitality at Wuhan College of Foreign Languages and Foreign Affairs. “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 will commence for more than 30 teachers from various schools across China. This fall, 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 program, visit www.CHEI.org.
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