Hospitality and service leadership students complete weeklong course at RIT Dubai

Hands-on coursework focused on Dubai’s growing tourist industry

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Rick Lagiewski

As part of the special-topics course, the students visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest in the world, with a main prayer hall that can accommodate 9,000 individuals.

Thirteen undergraduate and graduate students from RIT’s International School of Hospitality and Service Innovation returned to Rochester on Jan. 15 after spending a week in Dubai. All 13 students were enrolled in a special-topics course focused on tourism in the Middle East and Dubai’s transformation into a global tourist destination.

Professor Richard Lagiewski led the group as they met with management teams and were taken on behind-the-scenes tours of hotels and attractions.

Evan Coyne, a third-year student in the hospitality, tourism and nutrition management department and president of the RIT Hospitality Association, was enthusiastic about the experience from the time it was first announced this fall.

“This opportunity, I honestly believe, was once in a lifetime,” she says. “A professor and students took a chance, not knowing what to expect from a week of traveling and touring Dubai. We learned about our field, we learned about another culture and religion, and we learned what you can’t teach in the classroom.”

Coyne adds: “I shook the hand of the general manager of the Burj Al Arab. I rode a camel through a desert in the Middle East. I dressed in traditional Muslim clothing in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. I learned the logistics behind Ski Dubai. Not many students have the chance to say they have experienced all of these things, but I can.”

Lagiewski decided to develop the course to provide new opportunities for students who wanted to experience what they were learning in the classroom and reading in their textbooks.

“Many students have interest in studying abroad but there are sometimes challenges in traveling for an entire quarter or semester. This one-week course allowed students to expand their minds, travel, experience an amazing tourism market first hand—all while learning about tourism policy, new cultures, different management styles and the economic impact of growth,” says Lagiewski. “I am proud of this group of students who took a chance on a new course and will add to RIT’s global intelligence here on campus and as future alumni.”

NOTE: This article was co-written by Lyndsey McGrath, manager for global initiatives. To find out more about opportunities in Dubai, join Study Abroad staff for a special information session from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Campus Center, room 1010/1015. Attendees will Skype with students currently in Dubai about their coursework and travels. For more information, contact the Study Abroad office at