Last week, 170 hospitality educators from more than 60 vocational schools and universities across 18 provinces in China gathered at the Ningbo Marriott Hotel to attend the second Marriott China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI) Teaching Conference.
CHEI, a project of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, is funded with a commitment of 40.5 million RMB ($6.5 million) over five years. It engages educators and industry leaders in enhancing hospitality education, leading to life-changing careers for youth in China’s booming travel and tourism industry.
Since CHEI’s implementation two years ago, nearly 19,000 Chinese students and their teachers have attended hotel field trips and guest lectures by industry leaders. More than 160 teachers have completed faculty internships at local hotels and hospitality fellowships at U.S. universities. CHEI estimates its programs overall are having an impact on 28,000 hospitality students, as teachers incorporate knowledge gained through real-world experiences, new teaching techniques and CHEI learning resources into their classrooms.
The four-day CHEI Teaching Conference opened with a welcome reception and a masterful sand animation telling the story of J. Willard Marriott and Alice S. Marriott, co-founders of the Foundation and Marriott International, and the Marriott family’s deep passion for education. The conference offered educators first-hand exposure to hospitality operations and event management; educational workshops demonstrating advanced teaching techniques and resources; sessions on industry trends, best practices and CHEI success stories; and networking with colleagues and industry leaders. Teachers also completed hospitality certification courses offered by American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and Smith Travel Research (STR). School presidents, government officials and leaders from Marriott International, including Craig S. Smith, president and managing director of Asia Pacific, joined attendees for various conference sessions to network and show their support.
“We understand the power of education to change young peoples’ lives,” said Anne Gunsteens, executive director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “We were delighted to celebrate with the teachers and industry leaders in China who have contributed greatly to CHEI’s success. It was exciting to hear first-hand about the impact that CHEI is having on hospitality education.”
“CHEI is successful because it focuses first on teachers and is a collaboration between education and business,” said Carl H. Winston, managing director of CHEI and director of San Diego State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “Hospitality students in China are the beneficiaries of this great cooperation, as they become better prepared for exciting careers in hospitality and tourism.”
“We are honored to have participated in this year’s CHEI Teaching Conference,” said Smith. “As CHEI’s initial industry advisor, Marriott is committed to continuing to offer real-world experiences to Chinese educators to help them prepare students for rewarding hospitality and tourism careers.”
“I was so excited to attend this great CHEI Teaching Conference,” said Mr. Bao Yong, director of Anhui Career Guidance Center for Graduates and deputy director of Anhui College Students Work Research Committee, Anhui Provincial Education Bureau. “There are so many schools gathering in Ningbo, which demonstrates that the Marriott Foundation is focused on hospitality education and providing learning opportunities. This conference event will help schools pay more attention to hospitality students and their future education. We appreciate the Marriott Foundation for caring so much about hospitality education in China.”
“Through our cooperation with CHEI,” said Mr. Wang Yuan Hao, president of Anhui Zhong-ao Institute of Technology, “schools have closer relationships with the travel and tourism industry and have effectively reformed hospitality education, enhancing the students’ development. Please allow me to extend my heartfelt appreciation to CHEI. I truly wish that under the sunshine of CHEI, our teachers will be more engaging, our students will have brighter futures and hospitality education will become better and better.”
Over the next year, CHEI will continue to grow its programs by expanding into new provinces, hosting regional forums for teachers and administrators, enhancing teaching-learning resources and offering hospitality teaching certification workshops.