I simply answered an ad in the Figaro from a hotel management school looking for a tourism professor. I responded and was asked to come for an interview, which proved to be positive. That was in May or June 1994. I started teaching my first class in September.
First of all, because tourism is my speciality, but also because I liked the idea of sandwich courses for students who receive on-the-job training. I think it is wonderful for students to receive both theoretical and practical instruction. It is extremely worthwhile for students to have a real life experience alongside what they learn in the classroom.
The profile has changed a great deal. The students I had 20 years ago were very traditional, respectful of authority and focused on education in the classical sense of the word…Today's students are more responsive. They also check out the figures they are told in class on the Internet! This means I have had to adapt to meet their needs. I have also needed to call myself into question and become more versatile. Teaching is not the same as at the beginning. Today, I need not only to inform students, but also to help them to think things through.I must say too that students seem rather more immature than ten years ago. But this also means that they have become more endearing, and give the impression they need to be mothered.
A dinner at the end of the 2004 school year, when I had just celebrated by 10 years at Vatel. The students asked me to go up and make a speech, gave me a medal and posed with me for a photo. I was very touched by this, and hadn't expected it at all. Another fine memory was last year with an M4 class that was rather difficult. At my last class, I thanked them, and they were confused... and wondered if I were not being ironic. I replied that, no, not at all, and explained that I was thanking them for making me call myself into question, changing my way of teaching, and that I had learned a great deal from them. They were very surprised and gave me a round of applause!
I think that there are several things that are a decided advantage: speaking foreign languages, being versatile, and having good manners. Another thing seems essential to me: to work abroad. Students need to go forward and dare to do things, which obviously takes a lot of self-confidence.I give courses on the cultural aspects of tourism so that they will understand the environment in which they will be going to work: different types of clients, hotels, luxury destinations, and major tourism trends. It is important for them to be up to date.
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