The future of Hawaii is in the hands of the next generation. While we may not have control as to what will happen in the future, we can lead, expose and inspire the next generation to understand the importance of the hospitality industry and the role that they could play in the future.

I can whole-heartedly say that I am not only proud, but also honored to have been able to play a part in ClimbHi’s 8 th annual LEI program. Events that allow students to see the actual inner workings of hotels, to see the impact tourism has on Hawaii, to inspire students to work in the industry, or get a college degree that could allow them to work in the industry. These are the types of events that need to happen to ensure that the next generation is prepared and ready to take Hawaii to new levels of excellence.

Students have come to me asking how they can be more involved with LEI, one even exclaimed that they were a student in high school and participated in LEI for all four years, then went off to pursue a degree in hospitality management and began participating as a mentor for high school students. Moments like that show just how crucial LEI is to further developing and teaching high school students about the hospitality industry, and the impact that it is already having.

As an intern, one moment that stood out was on the Big Island of Hawaii, I had a chance to be a mentor for the students of the Hawaii High Schools. I had a moment of complete awe when I witnessed these timid group of high school’s blossom into full-fledged hosts, seating guests at the Mauna Kea Beach Resorts Luau. The students sat over four hundred guests to their seats, accommodated problems, brought over high chairs…and the list goes on and on. But most importantly, they showed A.L.O.H.A. The students were introducing themselves, talking story, showing off an exact definition of what I believe aloha is; something that was genuine, kind, and warm. After speaking with staff and some guests that hung around after the luau, everyone was amazed at how well the students did and wished they would comeback for the next day’s luau.

These types of moments are something that I never would have gotten the chance to experience in any other internship. Having the opportunity to train the students on how to seat a guest, how to prepare tables for dinner service, or how to interact with guests when they are on the clock. This type of experience was something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I hope that in some way, shape or form, the students that I worked with too can take away something from the experience that we all shared.

The future of Hawaii is in the hands of the next generation. It is our duty to make sure they are prepared and ready for the challenges that will be awaiting them. I am proud to have been a part of the L.E.I program and hope to be able to assist and play a role with L.E.I in the future and see how the program will grow.

Jared Matsuki Senior, University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Travel Industry Management

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