Yazhou Li traveled from China to Miami to acquire skills and recipes that he can take back to his family’s restaurant.
Li, 20, and six of his classmates: Yanchong Du, 20; Si Wei Ge, 20; Xu Quan, 20; Hong Xi Wang, 21; Mao Wenlong, 21 and Ying Zhang, 29 are from Tianjin Professional College in China.
The group is here for an eight-month hospitality management program at Miami Dade College’s International Hospitality Center.
Students will learn basic hospitality training to prepare for entry level jobs in the hotel and lodging industry.
“I’m looking forward to working and finishing this program and going home to get a job,” Wenlong said.
For the past three years, Tianjin Professional College and MDC have partnered to bring seven to 12 students each year to take core hospitality and English classes.
“The program is for students to be able to gain hospitality experience in the U.S.,” said Victoria Nodarse, the program’s director.
The students will begin working at the Hyatt Regency Miami, a downtown hotel, and the Eden Roc Renaissance in Miami Beach in mid-November.
The students have their classes together and share an apartment at the Four Ambassadors in Brickell.
When they are not in the classroom or at work, they are enjoying Miami’s attractions.
They have visited the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and Miami Beach. It hasn’t been all sunshine for the students. They have struggled getting used to Miami’s diverse culture.
“[For me] the hardest part has been cooking [at home] with American ingredients in a Chinese way,” Zhang said.
Communication has also been a barrier.
“The language has been difficult,” Wang said. “Sometimes I can’t express what I think.”
The students will continue to study at MDC for the next six months.
“My family has a restaurant back home,” Li said. “I want to take what I learn here, over there.”