The Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) aims to prepare participants to return home ready to contribute to the growth and development of their home countries. One of the ways we attempt to do this is by providing students with unpaid internships that give them the opportunity to apply the skills they have learned in the classroom in a real world work environment. Internships allow students to enhance their professional capabilities and to experience the culture of an American workplace. Below Whatcom Community College NWCCI Adviser, Iris Anthony, describes Daniel Masenya’s internship at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism and the skills he is learning that he will take back to South Africa.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (BWCT) is the county’s official tourism agency. They are a non-profit organization with over 300 members. Their mission is to improve the local economy by attracting more visitors who stay longer. One of the ways they accomplish this is to make travelers’ experiences more pleasant as they visit our beautiful corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Daniel Masenya, a hospitality and tourism student from South Africa, is interning with BWCT as a Bellingham Ambassador. The mission of the Bellingham Ambassador Internship is to make travel in Whatcom County easy and efficient for visitors from arrival to departure by providing expert assistance when and where it is needed. Additionally, it involves assisting travelers at the Bellingham International Airport as they arrive, depart and continue into Whatcom County and beyond.
Daniel serves two four-hour shifts per week and has made a positive impact for the tourists and travelers that navigate their way in and around Bellingham. Over the course of this quarter he will complete at least 110 internship hours. He has provided constructive feedback that has helped improve the Ambassador program. According to his supervisor, Larry Manley, “Daniel brings a warm genuine smile, determination, and a great sense of dedication and reliability to BWCT. He provides accurate information to the travelers from around the world as they navigate their way through our beautiful corner of the great Northwest.”
In Daniel’s words, “It has been really wonderful and enriching to work at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism mainly because every day is different. There is always something new to learn, which requires me to prepare well before starting to execute my duties of providing valuable information that has to do with directions, procedures and facilities at the Bellingham International Airport. What I like about working there is that the organization’s entire staff is supportive, motivating and helpful especially my supervisor Larry Manley. The job requires me to think on my feet and have information at my fingertips about places of interest, attractions and business so that the tourists and locals can have pleasant experiences.”
Daniel also describes what he is learning during his internship, saying “it gives me an opportunity to enhance my communication and problem solving skills, particularly when handling inquiries from the travelers, and meeting people from all walks of life from different countries around the world.” NWCCI is confident that these are skills that will benefit Daniel professionally once he returns home. Larry Manley has echoed these sentiments, saying “I hope he can share with South Africa the importance of assisting travelers and how their spending impacts the community in so many positive ways. The jobs and infrastructure that are provided by tourism dollars help all of us in so many ways. I hope he also can relate to the many tourist attractions that he has had the opportunity to experience from his involvement with the CCI program and share reasons why so many of us call this our home.”
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.