Saturday, 31 January 2015

Hillary Lee - “The captain is on his way”

As I mentioned in my first entry, I knew very little about the Bahamas. To illustrate how little my family knew about Bahamas let me tell you, my mom thought I was taking a cruise ship to Bahamas, she didn’t know there were airports. Also, I didn’t know Bahamas had multiple islands. I thought it was just Nassau. After learning about basic cultural etiquettes I arrived in Bahamas. The first time I experienced the “island time” was right after the tour with Valdez. As a group of us waiting for the ferry to take us back to the Paradise Island – where we were staying – we waited 45 minutes for the captain of the ferry to arrive. We were seated and waiting for about15 minutes. Then, the crew told us “the captain is on his way.” And 30 minutes later, the captain arrived. When I heard the captain is on his way, I thought, “Ok, it must be another 5-10 minutes.” This concept of “island time” was so different. Back in US when you hear something is “on its way” you think 10-15 minutes, not 30 minutes. The biggest recommendation that I can make to people going to the Bahamas is learn to appreciate the “island time.” Don’t just be focused on where you’re trying to get to. Focus on now. Who you’re with. Enjoy the time you’re having now, rather than planning for the time you’ll have later. Because if you do that, all you’ll be doing is being antsy and frustrated. Look outside the window for the view that Bahamas will give you. Talk to the person in front of you rather than checking your phone – you especially don’t have any other option if you didn’t have roaming on your phone and the location doesn’t offer WiFi. Enjoy your time now. And then when someone asks you “How are you?” you can reply “Right here.”

Hillary Lee - What I learned from the course

There are lots of things I have learned in this course, both academic and personal. This is my second course in Tourism Studies department. I felt I was the least prepared person in the course, as everyone in the course were in School of Business and I was the only one from Columbian College of Arts of Sciences. They were all studying something in Business or Tourism Administration. Next my name was: Political Science. However, after eleven days in Bahamas I have learned so much. I learned about Importance Performance Analysis, Service Mapping, Marketing Analysis, and so on. They were all brand new topics for me, but I learned the importance and usefulness those tools contribute to management. Also, as someone who’s has taken business course before did not know how crucial customer experience is to businesses. I knew the general sense that it would be fairly important, but as I’ve never thought about it in business’ perspective I did not knew that such things as mystery shopping were conducted on rather regular basis.

Personally, I have learned that you can catch the flu in Bahamas. On more serious note, a lot can be achieved in eleven days. My experience in Bahamas opened up my cultural understandings. Even such short time abroad had a direct impact on me. I learned how important cultural understanding is and the importance of learning difference culture’s method of communication is something that I believe I will cherish the most from this experience in Bahamas.

Hillary Lee - My experience in the Bahamas

What do you know about Bahamas? For me, it was beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and cruises. Honestly, that was pretty much all I could say about it before this experience. The morning of October 3, 2014 as I was standing in Foggy Bottom Metro, shivering and waiting for my friends to arrive, I received an email from my school’s study abroad office. It read “Congratulations! You've been accepted to Event Management and Marketing in The Bahamas!” I could not believe my eyes. I got in! I got in the program! I was going to go to Bahamas! I was still in half-disbelief until I got another email from my professor Dr. Levy next week. Eagerly, I started my research about Junkanoo – what the program was about. Fast forward to December 27, I got on a plane from DCA to ATL. And delay after delay, ATL to NAS. Let me just tell you, once your plane lands in Bahamas, you will know that you’re in Bahamas. It was sunny and warm, bye bye puffy jacket and hello sun! While waiting for my turn at the customs, there was a live band playing. And as soon as I left customs, pamphlets, maps, and other printed marketing materials. Then, I checked in at the Comfort Suites Inn at Paradise Island. Greeted by a plate of fresh fruits in my room.
Next day, we had a walking tour of downtown Nassau, learning of its culture and history. Valdez, our tour guide,  gave us one tip that truly changed my mindset – a mindset that could have made this trip extremely disappointing – it is likely and possible to wait 60-90 minutes in a restaurant. And let me tell you, that advice kicked in just couple hours later as we were waiting for our captain of the ferry to take us back to the Paradise Island. The captain, who was “on his way” for 30-45 minutes. Next day, after spending all day in the hotel conference room for our lecture, I took up my mission as a secret shopper for a restaurant. Placing a reservation call before, noting the service, food quality, and so on to evaluate and go through the journey in a customer’s shoes. All day I was thinking to myself, “Why do I feel so cold?”

Next morning, I woke up with sore throat and coughs, Oh no… But got ready for the guest lecture with Dr. Bethel. It was a great honor to hear from someone who is truly an expert. If I were to describe that lecture with Dr. Bethel in two word, it would be eye-opening. Firstly, I thought someone who is that knowledgeable in the field might find a group of college/graduate school students annoying, but no. She answered even our most elementary questions with expertise. After this lecture I felt as if we did an entire round of truth of false game. For example, truth or fa
lse? Junkanoo started with a John Canoe. Her answer shocked me since everywhere else that I read about Junkanoo prior have said that it was true. However, Dr. Bethel said the true origin of Junkanoo remains a mystery, but John Canoe story remains to be a good story to tell! That afternoon we went to the Junkanoo Museum! Where we learned about Junkanoo in a different perspective! Learning how much work goes into makes the costumes and seeing them in detail really opened my eyes. Creating our own Junkanoo music in the Shack and trying on different costumes also added to the fun.
Morning of December 31, 2014 I woke up with something I have been fearing the entire time I, the flu. There was no denying it, my roommate, Megan, and I were sick with the flu. As I walked to the ice-machine wrapped in a blanket, a cleaning lady saw me, she said “How’d you get a cold in Bahamas? I’m gonna take a picture of you and send it to my friends! Haha!” After the picture, she handed me antibacterial spray. After spraying down the room for our “healthy” roommate, Jen, Megan and I played the waiting game. We waited for Dr. Kelly to visit us in our hotel. He told us we had a flu, but wasn’t able to prescribe any medicines since there wasn’t a pharmacy in Paradise Island. He gave us list of OTC medicines, which we got, and my “I will go to Junkanoo even if I have to drag myself” flew out the window as I woke up 2 or 3 in the morning. Apparently, there was huge fireworks so close to the hotel that someone described to me as “I thought it was almost like a earthquake.” Sadly, I can’t comment on it, as I slept through it. When I woke up, I turned on the TV and Junkanoo was on. Megan and I saw our classmates sitting on the bleachers on TV with their thunder-sticks. As I woke up middle of the night, couple more times, I saw bits of the parade on TV and Mr. Ferguson, whom we met the day before on TV. That is as much I can say about my experience in Junkanoo. Even a month after this experience, I still get a bit upset every time I think about how I missed the Junkanoo.  I was so excited, so ready to experience it. Unfortunately, attending the Junkanoo remains on my bucket list.
January 1, 2015 I was still recovering from the flu. January 2, my group met to work on the group project presentation. Next day, we presented our project and that evening managed to go see the aquarium in Atlantis. Next day, we all headed over to Eleuthera. Stayed at the Hut Pointe Inn – where the room was a lot nicer than my entire apartment back in DC! Evenings, we worked and practiced for our official presentation. Next day, we had a tour of Eleuthera, we went to Peacher’s cave and beautiful pink sand beach in Harbor Island. When we got back to the Hut Pointe Inn, we worked and practiced for our presentation again. Early next morning, we flew back to Nassau. Had the final run-through for the official presentation that afternoon. We presented our class findings at the Ministry of Tourism. It was an amazing experience getting to share what my class found with other people. When we returned back to Nassau Junkanoo Resort many of us went to the beach and to the farewell dinner that evening.
The morning of January 6, I took a taxi to the airport to head back home. You might think that my experience in the Bahamas will end at the airport. But the experience in Bahamas continued. As I was holding on to my checked-in luggage receipt instead of boarding pass and didn’t even realized until the agent asked for my boarding pass to get into the security. I frantically looked through my purse and pockets, I didn’t have it. Another agent on the right had it. I must have dropped it and she saved the day. Think this is now end of the trip? Think again, because I left my passport at the security. Thankfully, another agent had it with her and rest of the trip – going through immigration and customs, boarding the plane, getting back to DC and home – were all seamless.

My experience in Bahamas was simply phenomenal. Not being sick with the flu might have made the trip perfect, but even with that pain point I had an exceptional time and experience in Bahamas. The people I met in the Bahamas were happy, pleasant, and excited for life. They were caring and warm – like the weather. The cleaning lady who laughed at me walking to the ice machine wrapped in blanket, the hotel staffs, people I met at restaurants, people on the street, even the taxi drivers. They were always smiling, happy. So how was my experience in the Bahamas? Phenomenal, I was happy.

Bahama explores
The guys

Practicing for government presentation

My Junkanoo Experience - Andres Arce

Its been exactly one month since Junkanoo, and there hasn't been a single day that I am not reminded of that incredible evening/morning.  Like most people, I had almost no knowledge of Junkanoo prior to preparing this trip.  Looking back, this lack of awareness proved beneficial as I came into the experience without any expectations or preconceptions.  This allowed me to take in the parade and absorb just what was in front of me without having to waste energy comparing it to similar events I have been to.  Truth is there is no comparison, what I experienced that night/morning is unlike anything else, something truly unique.

Its difficult to describe the experience in words .  The artistry alone was mind boggling. I'm not just talking about the physical construction of the costumes, which was incredible, but the imagery behind many of the costumes.  Sure, there was the frequent "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "NFL" theme (my personal favorite), but for every fun "entertainment" themed costumes, there were costumes that contained messages of peace, unity and the fight against injustice.  The Junkanoo festival gives the Bahamian people a stage to display their values, beliefs, and culture.  I cant begin to express how fortunate I was to experience it.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Recommend to others coming to Junkanoo- Kim

 I seriously recommend that before going to the Junkanoo, you must need extra sleep time. The festival starts at 2am and it finishes at 8 am. Event though it is 6 hours long festival, you need more power because there is not a movie theater that it means you shouldn’t have a seat and watch. You have to dance and shout out. Moreover, you have to enjoy the whole Junkanoo experience, not some parts because Junkanoo is a parade competition, and if you watch whole festival, you can find participants’s competitive spirit. Also, you should bring some cash for buying some food. Sellers do not accept credit card.

What I learned from the course - Kim

 This study abroad provided me to learn various event management and marketing strategy and evaluation methods. I had joined all of our planned event which include personal mystery shopping presentation, Junkanoo group presentation, and official presentation to special people. It was so challenge, but I was exuberant after the final presentation. Although international students who do not tend to butt in on presentations, but I did. Specially, I had learned a lot of importance-performance analysis that is a useful tool for hospitality and hotel researches. I certainly tell people what it is. Dr. Levy offered not only study abroad experience, but also consulting and presentation experience. During this short term study abroad, I was educated as I watched and I experienced.

My Junkanoo experience- Kim

Junkanoo experience on New Year’s Day was a memorable event with study abroad. It offered me more than I expected. Before I applied the Bahamas course, I had no idea of it because I heard about Bahamas which is in Caribbean and that’s all my information. I also did not have any information about Junkanoo. So I had low expectation of it. 

While Junkanoo festival, I was incredibly hyper because my ex major was applied music and I really love percussion and Brass sound. I was captivated by parade sound. Also, I was possessed by participants’s decoration and car decoration. Junkanoo was my ideal parade I had wanted to make experience. In addition local people were very kindness and explanation well to foreigners. Thunder sticks which I got from their sponsor made me more hyper during the Junkanoo. I really love Junkanoo. It was a 8 hours long unforgettable event 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Khadijah Nimrod- Recommendations

Being a high-tourist destination, the Bahamas truly has a lot to offer. Based on my experience here I must say, there are a few recommendations I would like to give:

-You can never go wrong with Conch,
-If you do not like to do tourist-like activities, Paradise Island may not be the best place for you
-Junkanoo is definitely an experience of a life time so do not miss out! -Get your rest before the festival and be prepared to stay up all night.
-Take the ferry from Nassau to Paradise Island instead of a taxi at least once-It is cheaper and the views on the water are amazing
-Expect to wait… long… very long…. for your meals/to be serviced
-Always greet the other person "good morning… evening… afternoon etc."

Khadijah Nimrod-What I've learned from the course

In just two short weeks, I've learned so much through this short term study abroad program. It is one thing to learn about hospitality, culture, tourism etc in a classroom setting out of a textbook, but it is another thing when you can actually live and experience it all first hand. Evaluating the customer experience in the Bahamas was definitely something to take away. I've never really looked into the customer journey/experience through the lens that we evaluated the Junkanoo Festival and our entire stay before. Seldom do I consciously think about my experiences and analyze them to the extent that we did. I've learned a lot about marketing, and branding and overall how cultures across the world vary. What may be important to us as Americans may not be important to Bahamians or even those of other cultures, but when you get to experience these things first hand, you begin to have an appreciation and respect for others. From the culture, to the government, to the people… the Bahamas has truly been an awesome learning "classroom". I've taken away so much in such a short time frame and I can truly say I will apply many of the concepts and teachings that I've learned in my life.

Khadijah Nimrod- Junkanoo Experience

Being of a caribbean decent, I've had my shares of carnivals and island festivals. I knew what it felt like to be up for hours in anticipation and excitement for something as big as this. However, being that Junkanoo is native to the Bahamas and relatively incomparable to most caribbean carnivals, I had a different set of expectations for what Junkanoo would behold. I must say, the Junkanoo Festival was definitely within the top 10 best experiences of my life thus far. It was definitely something magical to remember forever. From interacting with the local Bahamians, learning about a new culture and eventually becoming engulfed and invested in it, definitely made my trip even the more special. I definitely want to go back in the future, as I will be able to share my experiences with others around me. I am very grateful and appreciative that I was afforded this opportunity and I have taken so much away from it.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Word of Advice: 7 Tips When Visiting Junkanoo

Some of the recommendations I am about to give can be applied to practically any international abroad experience. Others are more specific to the Junkanoo itself. Since I obviously am a fan of lists (see my other blog posts) I will outline some of the key recommendations I have for those visiting the Junkanoo festival in the Bahamas. 

1. Be open to new cultures and experiences. All of us are born into different contexts and so it is important to understand that everyone’s lives are different across the planet. Acknowledging these differences and understanding that neither is right or wrong is an important skill.
2. Safety is key. The Bahamas is a country with a lot of poverty and crime. However, living in DC – which also has these issues – I recommend taking the same precautions you would at any late night event, especially in unfamiliar territory. In the actual festival area, I never once felt unsafe. However, when I had to leave early (due to illness), I did feel a bit unsafe outside of the boundary of the festival and was happy I had a comrade with me when acquiring a taxi. Make sure you are aware at all times.
3. Get your tickets early (if you can). We had to wait in line for a while to get tickets at the actual event so if you are able, I would recommend getting tickets in advance.
4. Embrace the music. What is the point of going to a cultural festival where all of the music is performed live unless you embrace it and let it move you (in ways you might not usually move).
5. Put down your camera for a second. I love taking pictures and video, so I am guilty of this. But, sometimes it is best to just let the moment take hold and be present 100% without recording and documenting the experience. This will allow you to FULLY experience it.
6. Talk to people (especially the locals). Who else knows most about the Junkanoo experience than the actual Bahamian locals? Let them tell you about their experiences. Ask questions. Learn about the festival through the lens of a local and it will really enrich your experience.

7. SLEEP the day before. You do not want to be zombie during the festival so make sure to get plenty of rest before you go (I know…this is hard to do – you are in the Bahamas! – but it is totally worth it in the end).

~Jared Dial

Experiential Learning: "What is Service Mapping?"

There are some things that just cannot be learned in a classroom setting. This is why I seek out as many experiential learning opportunities as possible. This is particularly true for the field of tourism, where the application of conceptual management theory is best applied to hands-on and engaging experiences. The Junkanoo short-term study abroad provided an excellent opportunity for this. There were three significant things that I learned while participating in this course:

1. Event Management:  What is Service Mapping? Well, if you want to know you should take this course J One of the most beneficial aspects of this study abroad was learning about the various ways in which event managers can analyze and understand the efficacy of the quality they are providing in their services. From mystery shopping to service mapping, there are many ways out there to better understand the visitor experience and determine if your business is successfully fulfilling these experiences. I am already applying this knowledge to my job in the museum events field, where I am working with my team to do such an analysis on our customers.

2. Teamwork: Many times we work with people we might not typically associate within our personal lives. Being able to successfully manage these relationships despite the diversity of ages and backgrounds is truly a remarkable feat. This short-term study abroad consisted of people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and disciplines, which made the experience both challenging and rewarding. Understanding compromise, patience, and your own faults is key to the success of these programs. I feel like this skill is an ongoing learning process that takes one’s whole life, although some learn faster than others.  I challenged myself in these areas on the trip as much as I could.

3. Public speaking: Being that I am 28 years old, I have been practicing public speaking for several years, although I continue to struggle with it. However, the presentation that we provided to the Junkanoo stakeholders provided an opportunity for me to practice these skills in a formal setting. This skill is very important to me. Being able to practice this in the capacity of a student is extremely helpful for my actual career. It might seem like an insignificant aspect of the study experience, but for me this was a very valuable skill that this course provided.

~Jared Dial

Power and Performance

I must begin by saying that the Junkanoo experience is a difficult thing to articulate into words, but hopefully in this blog post I will do at least some justice to the power and performance of the Junkanoo festival that takes place each year in the Bahamas. In order to describe the experience, I will categorize it into three different elements: color, visceral emotion, and community.

1. Color: Although the New Year’s day Junkanoo event takes place in the middle of the night (approximately 2:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.), it is not ‘dark’ by any means. Imagine vibrant colorful costumes made from everyday materials such as paper and plastic, colorful performances that elevate it above and beyond a typical parade, and colorful attitudes of the participants who dance the night away with emotion that makes the very definition of freedom seem tame. Color is everywhere.

2. Visceral Emotion: Have you ever experienced something that causes an emotional response deep within your gut? One that makes you feel like nothing else in the world matters? Well, this is how Junkanoo made me feel. Although I was deathly sick during my time at the parade, at one moment I forgot about my sickness and fell victim to the powerful energy that the performances provoke. This energy is not some joyous topical feeling, but rather one that is so deeply rooted you feel liberated. This is something I will never forget.

3. Community: Festivals and parades are typically a source of community, where citizens come together to celebrate some cultural or historical concept. Junkanoo, however, was more than just a community event. The reactions from the crowd provided testimony that this experience is much more than just a cultural gathering. It appeared to resonate on a deeper level with everyone attending, where the audience not only observed but also participated in the event – cheering on their favorite group and dancing to the beat of the drums. Community is key to Junkanoo.  

~Jared Dial