The College of Applied Science and Technology’s School of Hospitality and Service Management will formalize a new international co-op program this fall in Montenegro, Eastern Europe. How the program came to be is like a travelogue that bridged two continents and linked into the growing RIT alumni network around the world.
In May, Lori Harris and Lyndsey McGrath, both RIT staff members, traveled by bus from Prishtina, Kosovo, to Budva, Montenegro, a country situated between Croatia and Kosovo, to meet with students in the School of Hospitality and Service Management. The students were part of a pilot co-op program at one of the premier luxury hotels in the region, the Avala Resort and Villas in Budva, Montenegro.
Upon reaching their destination in Montenegro, Harris and McGrath met with Nikola Avram, general manager for the Adriastar Hotels and Resorts and a graduate of RIT’s American College of Management and Technology in Croatia. He wanted to “give back” to RIT in some way after a positive experience at ACMT, Harris explained, and offered to provide several co-op positions at the hotel.
Like Croatia and Kosovo, Montenegro has made considerable investments in its people and infrastructure, showing marked growth over the last 10 years. The RIT School of Hospitality and Service Management and the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies have been in on the ground floor in the growing tourist industry for several years in an area considered to be the Riviera of Eastern Europe.
In the last few years, tourists have been able to mingle with the rich and famous in Budva—from the Rolling Stones to the cast and crew of the 2006 film Casino Royale.
“The tourism industry in the area is growing and our close connections with the colleges in Croatia and Kosovo open many doors for our hospitality students,” says Francis Domoy, director of the School of Hospitality and Service Management.
“RIT students who take advantage of these opportunities, whether it involves travel or simply connecting with other students abroad, will undoubtedly expand their knowledge and better prepare themselves for the global workplace,” says McGrath, international program manager in the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies.
Harris adds that as travelers in such a culturally diverse place, you have to adapt to the country, the people and the lifestyle. “The people make the country phenomenally gorgeous. They want to see the success of their country,” she says. “There are some things you’ll never take for granted again. And their hospitality is second to none.”