Since 2015, EHL has been in partnership with the École d'Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule in Cambodia. EHT is a non-profit vocational hospitality institution in Siem Reap, whose mission is to give access to disadvantaged young Cambodians and people from the ASEAN community to an innovative and professional education.
“Our aim is to transfer the necessary knowledge and competencies to succeed in a management or an entrepreneurial career in the hospitality and tourism industry; building tomorrow’s leaders.” The EHT mission.
A collaboration based on excellence
From 67 students in 2002 when the school first opened, to 3365 graduates today who represent EHT’s alumni network, the school has been progressively establishing itself as one of the most renowned vocational institutions in Cambodia. Apart from the 5 ASEAN certified programs (ranging from Food Production to Front Office & Housekeeping), the school also offers a Diploma in Hospitality Management in collaboration with EHL and the ACCOR group.
As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility program, EHL entered into a partnership that focuses on the strategic and operational development of EHT. EHL provides academic and managerial support, as well as regular interventions by several EHL experts at the school in Cambodia. In short, the two schools have been sharing the common values of excellence, generosity and professional achievement among their respective students for the past five years.
Examples of two-way exchanges between the schools include the engagement of EHL professors to teach on EHT’s Diploma in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts programs, internship positions for EHL students, the sharing of EHL equipment and resources, and ongoing advice and assistance regarding the strategic direction of EHT.
“Sharing is joy, collaboration is success” - Ms. Helga NAGY, Director, École d'Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule.
The internship experience
Justine Grand and Salomé Scheibler, two EHL students, recently completed their internships at EHT. Despite the long shadow cast by the outbreak of COVID-19, the two interns managed to harness the best from this rich cultural and professional exchange. Here, they share with us their overview and achievements of this unique learning experience.
Why did you apply for this internship at EHT?
JG: Having a deeper cause, such as helping those in need, has always been important to me. It is precisely for this reason that I was happy to do my internship in such a special environment. This was also my first time in Asia, and the experience exceeded my expectations. I really appreciated the culture and work ethic of the school, where mutual help and listening play a key role.
SS: I wanted a different experience from the ‘traditional’ BOSC4 internship, (e.g. finance or consulting). My biggest wish was to explore where my EHL diploma could take me, as well as discovering a new culture, country and work environment. EHT is a non-governmental organization, so it differs from other companies in the way it operates; its objectives are quite different. I wanted to know more about this with a view to perhaps pursuing a career in NGOs in the future. I went into the experience with the most open mind possible, my main expectation was that I would be learning a lot.
What were the key takeaways from your internship?
JG: The frequent feedback from my supervisor was always constructive. Throughout my integration period and the internship, my colleagues and supervisor continued to teach me about how EHT works, Khmer culture and life in Cambodia.
SS: The most important lesson learned during my time at EHT was just how fortunate I am to be living in Europe, where many social issues are non-existent. I was aware of this before going, but seeing it and experiencing it gave everything another meaning. Every day, there were new things to learn about, not only from a cultural point of view, but also a professional one.
What impact did the COVID-19 crisis have on your internship?
JG: The tasks that were included in my initial training plan were unfortunately limited following the closure of the Cambodian schools in early March 2020. Upon returning to Switzerland, it was no longer possible for me to complete the tasks related to the Education and Operations departments, such as organizing events and English language courses. Technology played an important role for the rest of my internship, allowing me to communicate daily with my supervisor, as well as accessing information and documents remotely.
SS: After just two months in Cambodia, all schools were shut down, so Justine and I returned to Switzerland to be with our families. It was a tough decision since we were both enjoying our time there a lot. Fortunately, the transition to remote internship went smoothly thanks to the very supportive EHT team. We established a remote training plan, adapting what could be adapted and adding new projects to replace the ones I could not do from Switzerland. A big part of my original training plan was to participate in the EHT recruitment and admissions process, but sadly this could not be carried out because it required the Education team to go to high schools in other provinces and recruit students there.
What was the biggest challenge during your internship and how did you overcome it?
JG: The biggest crisis was indeed COVID-19 and meant that several of my projects were cancelled. While working remotely, I was both very dependent and far from my colleagues who had stayed in Cambodia. Thanks to technology and daily communication with my supervisor, I was able to overcome this issue, finding suitable solutions and new projects of benefit to EHT.
SS: The biggest challenge of my internship was undoubtedly going home and working remotely. It was tough at first to communicate efficiently with my colleagues back in Cambodia, especially because of the time difference. Plus, it was difficult on some days to stay motivated while working from home, with my original workplace being so far away.
What are some of the new skills you acquired at EHT?
JG: These past six months have allowed me to clarify my vision of my future career and set new goals for myself. I learned how an internationally renowned NGO works, and I improved my intercultural awareness by being part of a team of 90% Khmer employees. On a professional level, my ambition to work for an NGO after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree grew stronger.
SS: I have definitely acquired many personal skills through my EHT experience. Most importantly, I learned about a new culture and I broadened my awareness. Seeing a lot of students coming from underprivileged backgrounds work so very hard to complete their education and find a job that they love was definitely one of the best parts of the internship. At EHT, I taught English to the F&B students, a first for me, which I loved. I also learned about the functioning of an NGO which encouraged me to think about pursuing a career in that field in the future.
What do you think about EHL & EHT’s collaboration?
JG: The collaboration between EHL and EHT is a great opportunity to unite two hospitality schools from different backgrounds and continents that share the same passion for education. Students and teachers from both schools can benefit hugely from the cultural and professional exchanges in either Cambodia or Switzerland. During my internship, I realized I had knowledge that my colleagues didn’t have and that I could pass it on to them, and vice versa. As we all have different backgrounds and experiences, traveling allows us to broaden our view of diverse professional and cultural contexts.
SS: The collaboration between EHL and EHT is an extremely important one, especially for the students in Cambodia. I was involved in some of their Diploma of Hospitality Management classes where lecturers from EHL come to teach parts of the course, and it was great to see how motivated the students were. This diploma allows them to access management positions within the hospitality industry which would not be possible without the input from EHL. Moreover, the collaboration makes it easier for EHL students to access internships at EHT and thus expand their knowledge, horizons and cultural experiences.