During their summer break, 310 hospitality teachers from 129 vocational schools and universities in 23 Chinese provinces attended the annual China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI) Teaching Conference. Held at the Shenzhen Marriott Hotel Nanshan on July 11-14, the conference was themed Collaboration: Together is Better!
CHEI is a project of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation that offers a portfolio of programs, including the teaching conference, to enhance hospitality education. Many educators in China have limited exposure to real-world hospitality operations. They also have few opportunities to network with industry professionals, academic experts or peers. The conference brings industry and academia together and offers workshops and activities that enable attendees to network, experience hotel operations first-hand, and gain knowledge and resources to incorporate into their classrooms to better prepare students for career success.
“CHEI has grown exponentially and primarily by word of mouth,” said Anne Gunsteens, executive director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “We were thrilled this year to welcome teachers from 129 schools. Our conference theme of collaboration was brought to life by speakers from Marriott International; San Diego State University, universities in China, Singapore and the United States; STR (Smith Travel Research) and Culinary Institute of America. CHEI is proud to help elevate academic hospitality and tourism programs by providing professional development resources for teachers.”
Conference attendees included school presidents and government officials. Craig S. Smith, Marriott International’s president and managing director of Asia Pacific, and Chairman Yao, the host hotel’s owner, attended the closing gala celebration to network with educators and show their support.
“Each year, the conference hotel staff transforms the venue into a learning laboratory that engages the teachers in exciting, educational activities that offer insights into hotel operations and event planning,” said Joy Dong, CHEI project director. “This year, associates from different hotel departments choreographed performances to entertain and inspire educators about various aspects of hotel operations.”
Teachers gain knowledge and resources to use in classrooms
A visionary project of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, CHEI was developed in partnership with global academic and industry advisors, including San Diego State University and Marriott International. CHEI’s goal is to enhance hospitality education in China to better prepare students for meaningful hospitality and tourism careers, improving the socio-economic status of youth.
CHEI was initially funded with a commitment of RMB 40.5 million (USD 6.5 million) in 2013. Since then, more than 800 educators have participated in CHEI train the teacher programs—the only such programs in China. These educators are having an impact on more than 100,000 hospitality students. CHEI programs include:
- Faculty internships in hotels
- Field trips to hospitality venues
- Guest lectures on campus
- Hospitality curriculum and resources
- Regional teaching forums
- International fellowships
- Annual teaching conference
- School visiting and demonstration classes
Quotes from conference attendees:
- “It is very important to attract students to the hospitality and tourism industry in China,” said President Cui Dong, College of Arts and Sciences, Jinghan University. “This conference inspires me to think differently. The interactive, western teaching methods we learn through CHEI are transforming the way teachers teach and students learn. With better teachers, our students are better prepared for career success.”
- “CHEI’s success demonstrates great potential and prosperity for the future. The conference bridges the gap between schools and enterprises, improving their cooperation,” said Party Chief Lei Zhong Liang, Guangzhou Institute of Railway Technology. “CHEI focuses on teachers first, to improve their capabilities aligned with the current requirements of academia in China.”
- “Workshops were content rich and created great excitement among the educators,” said President Wang Yuan Hao, Anhui Zhong-Ao Institute of Technology. I believe all schools in China with hospitality programs want to participate in CHEI to achieve the same goal: enhance hospitality and tourism education and better develop students for the industry.”
- “The conference creates a terrific enrichment opportunity for teachers to learn and exchange information with peers from across China,” said Dean Zhong Liping, College of Arts and Sciences, Jinghan University. “The teaching methodologies learned through CHEI will build a bridge between teachers and students to enhance hospitality and tourism education.”
Originally launched as a five-year project, the Marriott Foundation has committed to provide support for another five years. During this time, CHEI intends to continue to build on its success, further localize programs and increase its capacity to meet the growing demand for CHEI programs from schools across mainland China. Visit www.chei.org for more information about CHEI programs.