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Translating tourism across cultures

September 4, 2013
MA Tourism Management alumna Catherine Evans is one of several RRU grads who have taught at Jinhua College of Profession and Technology.

Tourism translates. Regardless of country or language, there are universal lessons to be taught (and learned) and Royal Roads alumni are taking their personal experience and insight to China. 

MA in Tourism Management alumni Brenda Stanton and Catherine Evans, along with MA student Joshua Sitwell (also a grad of the BA in International Hotel Management) have all taken a turn teaching in Jinhua, China, thanks to a collaborative agreement between Royal Roads and Jinhua College of Profession and Technology.

“This opportunity is combining the two things that I truly love the most,” Stanton says. “The industry I am in and teaching.”

Under an agreement signed in 2010, Jinhua College of Profession and Technology and Royal Roads deliver a tourism and hospitality management diploma program to students on the Jinhua campus. Upon completion of the three-year diploma program students can transfer to RRU’s BA in International Hotel Management. There are currently 250 students in various stages of the program in Jinhua.

Royal Roads has partnered with faculty and instructors from other Canadian institutions to teach in Jinhua, but the university is increasingly looking to offer the experience to its own graduates, says Brian White, director of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.

“It really helps extend their learning experience to have this kind of opportunity,” he says. “It provides a strong international experience, particularly for those graduates who continue on as instructors.”

Teaching an industry you know well is not without challenges in a foreign classroom where there is a language barrier between student and teacher. Evans recalls her first day in class when she went to call attendance only to realize the class sheet was in Chinese. Teaching through a translator was also an interesting experience, Stanton says.

The students English improved greatly over the courses, all three note. Part of that improvement is linked to the Royal Roads approach to teamwork and active participation they brought into their classrooms, requiring the students to work together and speak together.

“The language barrier is a challenge, but it also opens up opportunities as well in that you rely on other areas of communication to try and relate, connect and communicate with students,” Sitwell says. “I tried to be much more interactive and more hands on.”

The students were up for trying new things, Evans says. “(It was nice to have students that were willing) go out of their comfort zone to try new project-based work.”

Bringing experiential learning into the classroom and real-world examples is key, Stanton says, adding “That’s text book, now add the real world. That’s very RRU.”

“I am a big believer that everyone learns differently and giving them different options in how to show they are grasping what is happening,” she says. “I really try to figure out how each student learns and work with that.”

Challenges aside, all three count the experience as a positive one, so much so that Stanton and Evans are going back to teach another semester this fall. Sitwell will be in his own classroom, as he continues his MA in Tourism Management. The experience in Jinhua has impacted his own learning and he approaches class differently now, he notes. “I am taking every opportunity to learn not only the subject matter but how the instructors are teaching. Now I am trying to be more aware to learn techniques and tactics to add to my arsenal.”

With the timing right for the women to go back, the desire to do so is simple: the students.

“Tourism is a service base industry and I look at them as our customers, and they need some continuity,” Stanton says. “I see some real shining stars, especially in some of the first year students and I want to be able to help them as much as possible.”

Teach in Jinhua

To learn more about the opportunity to teach at Jinhua College of Profession and Technology contact Tanya Aindow, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management manager. The time commitment ranges from three to five months, and six instructors are needed annually.