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TIANS in Tanzania with NSCC and VETA Mikumi

Lisa Dahr's Blog

sunny 31 °C


It's the morning of March 4th and I am sitting in the Zurich airport on the middle leg of our return journey to Canada following what has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my professional career.

In the Fall of 2011, NSCC International approached the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) and the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) with an invitation to participate in an ongoing project with the Vocational Education and Training Authority
(VETA) at Mikumi Campus in Tanzania. Our mission is the development of a skilled and professional workforce for Nova Scotia's Tourism Industry and we have a strong history and reputation of providing quality resources and training to the Industry. We also are the provincial liaison to the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council and administer the national certification program for tourism industry professionals completing their credential in Nova Scotia. We own and deliver service training programs and Master Training for programs such as SuperHost Atlantic, Service First - Make the Connection, Serve Right Responsible Beverage Service Training amongst many others. Our role for the Tanzania project was to provide train the trainer activities focused on customer service excellence and also to provide feedback and suggestions regarding marketing and operations of their newly built Visitor Information Centre. Lynn McDonagh Hughes, Manager of Operations and I were the staff selected to participate in the project.

The NSCC team had forewarned us about many of the challenges of working in Tanzania - such as frequent power outages, limited hot water and difficult conditions - and their experience certainly came in handy as we had more than a few mornings of dressing by flashlight and showering with cold water! The rewards far outweighed the challenges however, as we made many wonderful connections at the VETA in Mikumi.

The campus at Mikumi offers training in a range of trades and industries including food preparation, foodservice, housekeeping, front office operations and tour guiding. Throughout the week we spent time with the students who had many questions about Canada, Nova Scotia and tourism in general. English and Swahili are the two official languages of Tanzania, however many of the students were particularly keen to practice their English communication skills with people who speak it as a first language.

During the week the teachers spent time with Lynn and I looking at training concepts and delivery techniques around customer service training. There was excellent discussion around customer expectations of both international and domestic travellers. We also spent time examining ways to integrate some of the activities into the current learning outcomes of the curriculum they are working with.

Another tool we took to the teachers were the emerit national occupational standards related to the courses taught at the school. The idea of standards for occupations and how to use than as a foundation for curriculum is a novel idea in Tanzania and there was a lot of discussion with the teachers on different approaches to using the tools.

One of my favorite memories of our time spent on campus is of the morning assembly that the NSCC and TIANS/NSTHRC visitors participated in. The Nova Scotia flag which had been a gift to the campus from an earlier visit was in poor shape so a new one was brought by Jim Bate from NSCC. Assembly is early in the morning so bright and early on Thursday morning at 7 am Jim, Claudine Lowry, Katie Orr, Lynn and I trekked to the top of the hill the campus is built on and gathered with the students and faculty next to the flagpole for the morning assembly.
The whole student body is expected to attend as are all the teachers.

Various announcements and welcomes were managed by the Campus Principal, Christopher Ayo, and teachers. The students also took turns sharing some of their learnings from the classroom with the rest of their peers.

This is all done in English to help improve their language skills. The amount of organization and respect involved in this activity was really incredible. Following the students and faculty singing the Tanzania national anthem, our flag was raised and the five of us sang O Canada (which resulted in some polite chuckling from the students - I don't think any of us will be offered a recording contract anytime soon!) Lynn and I presented Mr. Ayo with a book of images of Nova Scotia which he graciously accepted and informed the students would be available to them to look through at the campus library. There was a wonderful sense of community on the campus and the students and faculty were all exceptionally warm and welcoming.

All too soon our time at VETA Mikumi was ending and we made the journey back to Dar Es Salaam before catching the first of three different flights home. One final meeting before departing was with Lidwien Appels, the CEO of the Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT). There was some good initial discussion around their history and organizational structure and challenges that HAT is working through. We hope to be able to continue the connection with HAT and consult with them on ideas to enhance their influence and advocacy roles.

TIANS and NSTHRC look forward to continuing our communication with the teachers at VETA Mikumi in coming months to help them with questions or challenges as they work to integrate some of the materials into their curriculum. This was a small step in contributing to the enhancement of their tourism product and experience, however, we feel it was well received and will be something they will continue to use and build on.

Our time in Tanzania was truly an incredible experience. We considered it a great privilege to be part of this project phase. Asanta sana (thank you!) to our partners at NSCC and the VETA staff - especially Ludovic Saronga, Tour Guide Instrcutor extraordinaire who was the real organizer onsite for our week!

Lisa Dahr, Manager
Industry Relations & Professional Development

Posted by NSCC Intl 06:55 Archived in Tanzania

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