Fall in love with Chicago at first sight
Kate Liu and Bella Li
After we arrived in Chicago in late August, we strolled among row upon row of great architecturally designed buildings and wandered around peaceful neighborhoods and busy downtown areas of the city. I truly fell in love with Chicago at first sight.
Chicago is a major city in the United States. It’s famous for its architecture, sports teams,food, and some of the world’s best colleges and universities. Chicago is unique and interesting. The deepest impression comes from its tidy, clean, andartistic style. My favorite outdoor activity is to run or walk on the “606” recreational trail leading to the lake from our home in the Bucktown neighborhood. The 606 is a reconstructed railway line designed for residents to walk, run, bike, and enjoy the outdoors. Think of it as a multi-mile long park in the middle of a 12-million-person city. There are half meter plastic tracks along each side ofthe 606 trail for runners. It is typical of the USA leisure style for people toget out of their business attire and into fitness clothing to do sports here.
Time flies in the blink of an eye. When I recall the past one month, this period of time is like a rainbow in the sunshine, temporary but beautiful and enough for me to fall in love with this beautiful city, this vibrant university and these lovely people.
In Carl Sandburg’s poem, Chicago is anoisy, burly, strong young man full of strength and hope. But in my eyes when I first met Chicago, I felt it was more like an elegant, charming lady full of wisdom and story.
American people are enthusiastic and confident. They like to show their individuality and innovation, so in the supermarket various products can be found to meet different needs even the nuances. They save time, so they create a variety of machines to replace manual labor. They respect and encourage individual ideas,so they pay attention to the protection of intellectual property in business,and focus on the cultivation of students’ self-confidence, individual conception and innovation in education. That is exactly what we lack most.
The School of Hospitality Leadership (SHL) of DePaul University is located in Chicago’s Loop. DePaul has one of the oldest business schools in the United States. The SHL, which is located within the Dreihaus College of Business, gives us lots of precious experiences as a gift. They show us well designed curriculum and an abundance of online study resources. They offer us many opportunities to network within dustry leaders, faculty, staff, and students. They supply a lot of international training for their faculty.
In the SHL, after students finish the major requirements, they can choose a concentration course and specialization course depending on their career interest.
We chose our courses when we first arrived with the direction of Dr. Nick: Introduction to Hospitality，Hospitality Leadership Forum, Hospitality Data and Ratio Analysis, Lodging Property Management, Hospitality Career Management, and Revenue Management.
Some of the courses are online; some are hybrid (part online and part face-to-face); and others are in person. Some of the courses feature weekly guest speakers who lecture ontopics such as hospitality career management.
What is amazing to me are the tremendous online resources available for each course. There are syllabi, module PPTs, reading materials, relative website links, exercises, and evaluations for all of the courses in D2L, DePaul’s Learning Management System.
In early September, we visited Top Golf and attended the Choose Chicago Hotel Industry Symposium.We also participated in a meeting of all local hotel HR managers at the Renaissance,a Marriott property in downtown Chicago along the river. This full networking schedule gives us new information about the hotel industry and lets us meet more industry professionals.
As a teaching focused university, DePaul is a great model in curriculum design, teaching design and teaching methods. This month, a new Student Development and Engagement Center was established at DePaul by The J. Willard and Alice S.Marriott Foundation.
The courses students at SHL need to attend, mainly consist of three types of courses: Liberal, Business Core and Hospitality. Hospitality courses are further divided into Foundation, Concentration, Specialization and Milestone courses. Five categories of Foundation coursesmust be completed during freshman to senior years. Concentration courses,including Lodging, Food and Beverage Management, Event Management, and Private Club Management, must be completed in the junior year.
After the completion of the Foundation and Concentration courses, senior students select Specialization courses based on their job interests, including leadership, entrepreneurship,sales leadership, virtual marketing, hospitality industry accounting andmanagement information systems, hospitality, real estate, revenue management.Through a combination of Concentration and Specialization courses, students can develop specific job proficiency. For example, if they wish to start a newlodging property, they can choose lodging as a Concentration andentrepreneurship as a Specialization.
From the studying experience of the six elective courses, DePaul fully demonstrated its great teaching system and teaching pedagogy to me. D2L learning system can realize multiple functions like uploading and downloading teaching materials and student assignments, chapter tests, discussions and grade query. The link to Lynda.com provides a variety of learning videos about Excel, Prezi and other professional software. Career Center provides plenty of work and internship opportunities, and organizes workshops and activities totrain students to be better prepared for their future jobs. These systems provide students with a broad space for independent learning and help students form their career paths.
With regard to teaching methods, courses this quarter are offered via face-to-face, hybrid and online modes. The characteristics of each method are very obvious. In the face-to-face teaching class, Shelly invited guest speakers for every lesson in her career development class. Using the hybrid-teaching mode, Nick’s leadership course consists of online teaching and face-to-face teaching to discuss different topics related to leadership. It’s my favorite course because of its deep insight and the high frequency interaction in the class. While Lisa is the master of team-based teaching. Online teaching is about audio and video and all kinds of teaching materials, and face-to-face teaching is about chapter quizzes and team-based project discussions. It’s rewarding from all these classes. With each approach, the most critical goals are to improve student engagement in the class and to focus on the needs of industry and the future development of the students.
Students here are very different from most Chinese students. They workand study hard. Due to the high university tuition, almost every student has apart-time job. Every student in the classroom is highly involved in the class, participating in discussions and interacting with professors. Very few students fall asleep or do other unrelated things in the classroom. They ask all kindsof questions and often have a deep communication with the professor after class. They seldom waste time. Even during school holidays they work part-time jobs, as well as traveling. So they seem to be more mature than students in China.
Over the past month, our lovely mentor, Nick, has taken great care of usby arranging our accommodations, transportation, food and school courses. Hetook us to school faculty meetings and industry activities. He helped usexperience as much as possible about the culture, hospitality education and the hospitality industry. And we also had discussions with him about the differences between the industry and hospitality education in China and America.These valuable experiences will eventually leave an indelible mark in my future career in hospitality management education.
For me, this one month in the U.S. has been very positive with so many diverse experiences. This opportunity has allowed me to explore a new culture and environment, and it hasincreased my passion for hospitality education. I changed from one who iscompletely unfamiliar with the culture here to one who easily takes the blueline train to get around. I changed from being shocked by the vast amount of online resources to learning confidently within the U.S. higher education system atthe SHL. I changed from one who cannot understand students in my group to onewho can contribute to the group project with my own knowledge. I changed from one who knows only Bella and Nick to one who has many new friends.
I am so proud of being an educator of hospitality and opening my heart to the changing world.
I’m very lucky to be here with such a great mentor, Nick, and to work with Lisa,Misty, Shelly, and Oliver, and learn along with Liu Yuan from Shandong Tourism Vocational School. I’m so grateful to every member of the CHEI program of Marriott Foundation; three Golden Flowers Joy, Caron and Sarah from China; and Anne, Carl, Brian, Gene and my lovely tutor, Nick, from the USA. I hope we can work together to improve hospitality education.