Always believe in your career dream: it can come true!

From the GTTP to the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. The story of Yen Li

Crishner Lam is a 11-year veteran instructor in GTTP Hong Kong’s program, which serves some 15,500 students in 155 schools. Earlier this year he took a class to tour the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, where one of his former students, Yen Li now works.
Here is the story of Yen Li’s career since she was a GTTP student at the Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School*, as told by Crishner.

“In 2002, Yen and her fellow Travel &Tourism classmate Katie Chong presented an inspiring ‘heritage tourism’ case study named “Touring Walled Villages” to GTTP’s tourism leaders and student representatives. The study was presented during the GTTP International Conference held in Sofia Antipolis, near Cannes in southern France” said Crishner.

“Yen was deeply inspired by everyone she met at the meeting and by everything she experienced during the event. She became determined to follow her dream and make a career in Travel & Tourism” wrote Crishner.

“The following year” he added  “Yen graduated with a good grade in her T&T public examination and proceeded directly to study T&T at the Institute of Vocational Education – a renowned diploma program offered by the government-established Vocational Training Council. Here she met Chammy Lau, who was her teacher and who now is both the GTTP Hong Kong’s Director and a lecturer at the famous HKCC PolyU”.

Walt disney world fireworks
Surrounding the Kingdom – Photo by Marc Willard

The momentum, the passion and the international exposure that the GTTP had brought to Yen led to her being chosen for the highly sought-after ‘Disney Scholarship’ to Walt Disney World in Florida for one entire year.

“At Disney World,” wrote Crishner “she strove, she learned, she developed herself all-round, she worked very hard, but also used her time-off days to experience more through travelling to the Caribbean and within the USA.”

“Welcome to Hong Kong Disneyland” – Photo by Loren Javier

“After returning to Hong Kong – Crishner continued – Yen joined the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and has moved ahead quite successfully in her career. She was promoted to ‘representative host’ position, focusing on generating high quality service to the resort’s VIPs. Her proactive character made her one of those who create key service elements and also train the resort staff members to run the famous ‘Disney’s Hospitality in Practice’ day training program for students at secondary and post-secondary levels”.

“To create a happy surprise, she decided to conduct the day training program herself when I took my class to the Disneyland Hotel” told Crishner. “It was a ‘magic moment’ for me, her former teacher, as well as for my students.”

“GTTP’s student conference changed my life… and you should always believe in your career dream… it can come true!” Yen told the students while, as they say in Hong Kong, “a ‘bit of smoke’ got in her eyes”.

*Yen Li studied Travel & Tourism at Lok Sin Tong Young Ko Hsiao Lin Secondary School

The impact of big events on local communities: the case of the Cheung Chau Island festival

Have you ever wondered what happens when a homegrown village festival becomes swamped by tens of thousands of visitors? How do the villagers feel about it?

This is not an idle question. Festivals have become big business around the world, and some overwhelm their host communities.

GTTP Hong Kong’s Director, Chammy Y.L. Lau from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in collaboration with Yiping Li (University of Hong Kong), has published the results of their research into one example of this topic. The investigation focused on a traditional festival held on Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau Island.

Photo by Tomoaki INABA

Every year, usually in late April or early May, three 60-foot towers covered in steamed buns become one of Hong Kong’s signature visual images. These are one of the core parts of a weeklong festival held on the island.

At the core of the Festival is a tradition of thanksgiving and prayers for protection started by a tiny fishing community in the aftermath of an 18th century epidemic. Year after year, the festival evolved to include other elements of the Chinese traditional culture, and today the festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors during that one week.

As part of the GTTP’s Student Research Competition on “Festival and Tourism”, the GTTP students from Hong Kong examined the 2011 edition of the Cheung Chau Festival. They looked at all of Hong Kong’s many festivals, with a specific focus on their financial benefits and developed a comprehensive report that is now published on the GTTP website.

Chammy and her colleague took the research a step further, and developed an in-depth investigation on what the festival means to the villagers in terms of religion, heritage, social bonding.

“McVeggie”, photo by I Stole TV

In a nutshell, the outcome of the research is that the villagers are intensely proud of what the Festival has become. The money that flows in is clearly one of the main reasons why,  but the symbolic elements are still there. During the Festival, residents ritually purify themselves, clean the streets before the festivities begin, and serve no meat – even the local McDonald’s becomes vegetarian. The sense of community that organizing and managing the Festival brings is definitely one of the main drivers for the villagers of the Cheung Chau Island.

The long answer to Chammy’s research question is clearly longer and delivers a more insightful view on the Festival and its value to the inhabitants of the Island, and is available  on the prestigious Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change.
Congratulations to Professor Chammy Y.L. Lau, GTTP Hong Kong Director: this is her first research paper in an internationally refereed academic journal!

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