The hospitality industry is among the fastest growing fields in the world, and many colleges and universities with hospitality programs are pursuing academic partnerships to expand cultural exchange opportunities for students and faculty.
Last March, University of Hawai’i Maui College and top officials from the Mapúa Institute of Technology signed a memorandum of intent to promote the advancement of international understanding, dissemination of learning, and strengthening of cultural ties, as well as to improve the educational and professional training programs of the two academic institutions. The cooperation is focused on the areas of student, faculty, and academic exchanges.
The idea of the partnership between UHMC and Mapúa began a few years ago when a group from UHMC led by Dr. Debra A. Nakama, articulation coordinator and a professor of the Business and Hospitality Department, visited the Philippines after the college opened its hospitality internship program to Filipino college students.
“When we first came to Mapúa, our intuition said that we would return, but before we returned, we wanted to make sure that we would provide an opportunity that would team Mapúa with University of Hawai’i Maui College. This will be an enriching experience for students, and will help promote the Hawaiian and Filipino cultures on a global level.”
The MOI paves the way for students at both institutions to prepare for the demands of the hospitality industry.
“The contents of the MOI cover the short-term exchange of students for a three to six-month training program, which includes two preparatory courses on the Hawaiian culture and international on-the-job training,” said Eunice C. Capalad, placement officer of Mapúa’s Center for Career Services. “It also covers the long-term exchange of students for academic degree programs in business, hospitality, and tourism. Exchange of professionals and executives as visiting lecturers, speakers in joint professional seminars and conferences, or consultants for academic and training projects may also be made possible through this partnership.”
Before the MOI signing, UHMC representatives listened to presentations from 30 students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) at Mapúa. The students applied for an internship at UHMC’s partner the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas on Maui, conducting the second phase of their interview with the resort’s human resources director by Skype. Only four were chosen to fly to Hawaii for the program.
Lorelle A.S. Peros, UHMC Hospitality and Tourism program coordinator, noted that, “all the students who presented were very strong candidates. With the limited amount of slots and opportunities, I’m sure it was a challenging task for the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas to only choose four.” Peros is actively working with Mapúa to identify hotel partners in the Philippines that could provide similar internship opportunities for UH Maui College students.
Capalad views UHMC’s intensive internship program one of the best opportunities for Mapúa students.
“UHMC has partner hotels on Maui, which was voted 17 times as the best island in the world. Moreover, aside from its industry partners, UHMC has structured academic training programs whose objectives are similar to those of our international on-the-job training program. UHMC offers a value-based learning training opportunity for our students.”