|First 2011 HTC class|
The next time you’re roaming through the southeastern half of Africa, enjoying a lovely hotel room or a scrumptious meal, take a close look at those serving you. These are waitrons and hotel staff members who may very well have been trained at Bulembu’s Hospitality Training Center. The students, like Mbongiseni (Bones) and Gabsile, come to Bulembu to study every aspect of the hospitality industry so they can go out into Swaziland – and other countries – and find a prosperous and fulfilling career. What’s it like a day in the life of one of these students? Let’s find out!
The 19 students – 6 boys and 13 girls – live in a dorm-like house. They wake early and jockey for position in the bathroom for showers. In between morning prayers, a breakfast of cereal or toast and getting dressed, Bones checks on the others in the house to make sure everyone is ok. They all leave the house together at 8:45 and make their way to the training center for their 9 am class. School days typically last until 4:30 or 5:30, depending on what is scheduled for the students.
The students are divided into teams - green, black and red - and they each take turns preparing lunch and handling other duties in the house. The lessons they learn are even incorporated into their everyday lives. After classes, each student is responsible for his or her own meal. Bones says he likes to take walks and photograph the beautiful nature that surrounds Bulembu when he is not reviewing his school notes. Gabsile says they all often watch DVD’s in the evening because the TV isn’t connected to satellite. She explains that they have seen most of the movies numerous times, but it’s still a pleasurable time to be together.
After working in classroom settings and getting some hands-on experience at the Bulembu Country Lodge, the students are ready to move on to their practicum. Bones will be going to work in a hotel in Manzini while Gabsile will be stationed at Mountain Inn in Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane. But first, she will make a stop to see her mother and stepfather and meet her new sibling!
|Students in class|
Both Bones and Gabsile say they have learned so much through their classes, which don’t just revolve around setting tables and pouring drinks. They have classes in life application and education, including awareness about HIV/AIDS. Bones says he is naturally shy but these classes have helped him to try to overcome the shyness and break out of his shell, which he is looking forward to doing when he arrives in Manzini.
|Students having breakfast|
Gabsile said this has been the greatest experience of her life. “I’ve never been so happy,” she says. “I’m also learning a lot about myself, and making great friends.” Friends, she insists, she will miss when they go separate ways into a bright new world of opportunities. Perhaps one of those opportunities will include serving you and making sure your visit is made of wonderful memories.
Written by Theresia Whitfield
Photos by Gary Todoroff