The island was our classroom’
The island was our classroom,” was how Don Burgess described the tourism class he taught to the eighth-grade students at Mount Saint Agnes Academy.
And indeed it was as the students explored the Admiral’s Cave at the Grotto Bay Resort, went on a walking tour of Hamilton with Town Crier Ed Christopher, and received an insider’s tour of the Hamilton Princess as just some of their experiences.
Mr Burgess said the inspiration for the class came from principal Sue Moench after she had taken the Certified Tourism Ambassador programme. She is hoping other school principals will see the value of teaching our young people about tourism.
Mr B, as he is affectionately known by students and parents, said his goal for the course was to give the students a wide variety of experiences.
That way they would not only be able to see the opportunities in the tourism field but also see it is every citizen’s responsibility to be kind to our visitors or to offer help giving clear directions when a tourist has a map out. They were also able to see the extensive impact this pillar of the economy has on Bermuda.
Besides the trip to the Admiral’s Cave and the Hamilton Princess, the class went to the Bermuda Tourism Authority and heard from Glenn Jones, director of public and stakeholder relations, about how the organisation markets the island to potential visitors.
The class visited public art spaces such as statues When Voices Rise, Carlos Dowling’s bronze of Sally Bassett at the Cabinet Building and several works in Queen Elizabeth Park.
Guest speakers to the class included, of course, the tourism minister Jamahl Simmons, but they also heard an inspirational speech from national security minister Wayne Caines.
Industry workers such as Faith Bridges from Aunt Nea’s Inn, Kristin White from Haunted History, Ashley Harris from Hidden Gems, and Antwan Albuoy from Kinezumi Watersports came to the school to help show students various jobs within Bermuda’s tourism industry.
More than 25 people in the tourism field interacted with the students in one way or another, including members of the BIU who showed what role the union plays.
The class learnt about marketing and branding, and projects included Bermuda posters, short commercials and social-media posts about our island home.
Ashley Horseman said: “I found it fun to learn about something that is so special to Bermuda because that’s how we earn our profits, through tourists. It’s interesting to find out that there’s not just one section to tourism, but there are many different sections.
“The most useful thing I learnt was there are so many different jobs you can do in the tourism industry. I didn’t know that before, so that piqued an interest for me.”
Ashley did not realise she could be a graphic designer and be intricately involved in helping promote the island.
Rico Cabral said: “It was a great experience. I learnt a lot about how Bermuda tourism runs. I liked how we went on a lot of field trips because we were involved and got to do things, which made it a great experience for everything we did.”
Brianna Smith said: “It was fun and we learnt different things. My favourite field trip was the Admiral’s Cave because it was adventurous and I like adventures. It was fun to learn things outside of school.”
Kyra Kucharik said: “I learnt a lot about the Hamilton Princess and how many jobs there are there and how many people work behind the scenes.”
Not only was the class a hit with the students, but the parents were thrilled with it too.
Nicole Warren, whose daughter, Christiania, was in the class, said: “This year our daughter was exposed to a very hands-on learning opportunity with Mr B’s tourism class. We believe this is the sort of engaging learning experiences which enriches today’s child.”
Nikita Robinson’s son, Ajani, was in the class and impressed enough on a field trip to Hamilton Princess to earn a work shadow at the resort.
Ms Robinson said she saw the chance as a benefit to her son because it was an “exposure to an industry that he appears to be a natural in. It brought out his communications skills, friendliness and his desire to help people”.
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