The University of Hawaii has forged a new partnership with Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines to provide its UHMC Hospitality and Tourism program students a chance to study abroad and prepare them for the demands of the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry earned $856,623,000 in Maui County in 2008 (according to the 2010 Maui County Data Book), second only to real estate.
The idea started a few years ago with UHMC’s internship program for Mapua’s students that flew four qualifying students from the Philippines to positions at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas.
“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,” says Dr. Debra A. Nakama, articulation coordinator and a professor of the Business and Hospitality Department at UHMC. ”This will be an enriching experience for students, and will help promote the Hawaiian and Filipino cultures on a global level.”
Last March, University of Hawai’i Maui College and top officials from the Mapúa Institute of Technology signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) 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 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,” says 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) program at Mapúa. The students applied for an internship at UHMC’s partner the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas on Maui, conducting the second phase of their interview with the resort’s human resources director by Skype. Four were chosen to fly to Hawaii for the program.
“All the students who presented were very strong candidates,” says Lorelle A.S. Peros, UHMC Hospitality and Tourism program coordinator. “With the limited amount of slots and opportunities, I’m sure it was a challenging task for the Westin Kaanapali 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. Currently the program does not have available spots for this year, but the details are getting worked out. There are also plans to expand the program to other majors.