FLR Interns and Students Cap Off the Summer with Style

 By Joy Neighbors

Romanian Students
Each summer, interns and international students  travel to French Lick Resort to take part in a learning work/culture experience for three months, and this year was no exception. But what was different was the capstone project they decided on; a cultural display of what they’ve learned about hospitality.

Steven Spencer
According to Steven Spencer, Human Resources Training Coordinator, this project was to be a resort-wide cultural exchange. “We started discussing the project late last year and added the specifics about a month ago. We wanted interns and the international students to work together on this project just like they would at a real job. It’s about letting them learn each other’s culture. International students are experiencing and learning about American culture for the three months they are here and interns are now learning about other cultures from the international students.”

Country-Appropriate Table Decor
Students and interns planned a resort-wide international banquet that highlighted dishes from every country the students came from. “The interns and students worked together to plan a buffet-style menu, come up with fun facts about their countries, and create decorations and an activity that pertained to each country,” Spencer explained. “They were to treat this like a job; do cost comparisons and make smart business decisions, book the meeting space, select the decorations, order napkins and tablecloths. Some of the international students also decided to offer traditional candies and have stuffed lions on their tables because these are native to their countries.”

A Wide Array of Food
"The students only had four weeks to turn this event around and make it work. And in the hospitality industry that’s not an unusual deadline so it was a great learning experience about the real world," Spencer said. “Each week when they met, they had a goal to meet. The first week, the full menu had to be selected and students had to provide all of the recipes so there was time to assemble all the necessary ingredients. Week Two, the fun facts had to be completed and students started constructing their decorations. Week Three, decorations had to be finished, and Week Four, anything else that had to be assembled, completed or finalized was due because Wednesday, July 27 would be show time!”

Appetizing Choices
Resort chefs prepared the food from recipes gathered by the students who also assisted in the traditional preparation of certain dishes. The banquet represented all seven countries the students came from: Bulgaria, Hungary, Jamaica, Nigeria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Cold Veggie Salad
The meal was served in two shifts, one from 10:30 am to 3 pm, and the next from 4 pm to 10 pm. This allowed all 900 French Lick Resort associates a chance to visit the Windsor Ballroom and enjoy the buffet. Third shift also got to take part; boxed lunches for each country were prepared so these associates could also enjoy the diverse menus.

Tables Decorated in Each Country's Colors
Marketing intern Matthew White, from Indiana State University, worked with the students from Bulgaria. White had this to say about the project, “This experience allowed us to learn how to research, problem solve, set goals, reach beyond boundaries, and work as a team. We (interns) assisted international students with compiling menus, making sure activities were laid out properly and preparing decorations. We made sure that each country was represented with a nice variety of selections. The cultural exchange was the final project demonstrating what we’ve learned.” White smiled and acknowledged that it was a lot of work to pull off in four weeks, “Hopefully, it was a wonderful experience for French Lick Resort employees to get to explore other countries.”

Steven Spencer
A Good Luck Hug
Team leader Steven Spencer hoped students and interns would take away several things, “The satisfaction of having done it and made it a success. The sense of teamwork that has developed between the international students and the interns, learning how to work together to pull an event like this off; how to learn from others. They’ve had a chance to take down borders by working together, everyone comes from a different walk of life but these students from seven countries, and the interns, learned how to make it work for everyone. They’ve also gained more resort knowledge and a real understanding of how this industry works."

Will there be more such events? "This is only the first year for this event," Spencer promised. “Next year, students will start thinking about it when they arrive. And they'll have it easier with three months to discuss and prepare for it.”

Congratulations to all students, interns and staff that took part - the end result was spectacular!