Clustered in small groups, students sat at desks awaiting instructions from their teacher.
The assignment was to go around the room and talk to classmates. Some students took out objects from their book bags or purses, while others asked questions about the items as a way to practice their English skills.
“Add details,” said instructor Gwen Luib. “Ask follow-up questions.”
Luib also encouraged them to throw in common rejoinders such as “Wow!,” “Really?,” and “That’s amazing!”
The students are part of the new Cal Poly Pomona Aviation Hospitality Program. The 100 participants represent 14 universities and colleges in China, with all of the students majoring in aviation hospitality.
The four-month program is designed to help the students with their English skills, as well as their basic aviation industry knowledge. The participants also get lessons in international etiquette and interpersonal communication skills.
Lisa Xue, director of global education programs for the College of the Extended University (CEU), said the Beijing Guangui Jintong Education and Technology Co. approached Cal Poly Pomona about hosting the group. A second and third cohort of students is planned for 2016, Xue said.
“This is a very effective way to promote our university’s prestige,” she said. “Some of the students want to come back here to our graduate programs.”
For the first five weeks of the program, the students work on their language skills. In the second phase, they learn about problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, international etiquette and aviation hospitality.
Xue said that although the CEU administers the program, it’s a collaborative effort. Global Education Programs (GEP) hired eight Cal Poly Pomona student leaders to work as assistants. The Cal Poly Pomona English Language Institute (CPELI) instructors are teaching the English classes, and faculty from The Collins College of Hospitality Management is directing the hospitality management courses.
The students see the program as an opportunity to improve their English skills and get a close-up view of another part of the world.
“The program teaches me how to conduct conversations and how to talk to different people in different situations,” says Frank Hu, a 21-year-old aviation services student from Shanxi Normal University.
Caroline Ying, 21, is in her second year of the aviation program at Shandong Normal University. Her goal is to be a flight attendant.
“The world in the 21st century is extraordinary and diverse,” she says. “I want to travel all over the world.”