"As Miss Lydia explained earlier to the students in Houston, we in the Holy Land have a different kind of tourism operation..."
They aren't watching a movie. They're watching a live video conference of Professor Hanna Mousallam at Bethlehem University as he discusses the ancient sites that bring scores of visitors each year. Around him are his tourism students watching from the other side of the world.
"We also have different kind of tools related to local culture, heritage, historical and archaeological sites," he continues.
This is the first semester for the joint global tourism class that joins students at UH with students at Bethlehem University once a week through video conferencing.
"Both sides benefit from a class like this where we're actually putting students together to study a common topic in a common major and put faces on both sides of the world, " said UH Professor Lydia Westbrook, who co-teaches the class with Mousallam. "When the students were first introducing themselves on camera, nearly every student said they enjoyed traveling and wanted to know about other cultures. As future hoteliers and leaders in the hospitality industry, they have to know about their prospective coworkers and prospective customers."
Students will be paired up to collaborate on projects and presentations, and already have gotten to know their counterparts through social media venues like Facebook. The course will cover various aspects of travel and tourism.
"Things like transportation, accommodation, how travel services are bought and sold. We'll be discussing the kind of traveler who goes to the Middle East and the kind of traveler who comes to Houston, Texas," she said.
Students on both sides, including UH Student Jared Bowser, are enjoying the class.
"The Bethlehem students bring another point of view. And then getting to learn about their area of the world is really unique," he said.
"All right, thank you and we'll see you next week," Mousallam says to the students in Houston as a chorus of "bye!" responds.
"I'm hoping that our students improve their overall tolerance and open mindedness of other cultures, and that this class reaffirms this is a global industry for them and it knows no borders," Westbrook said.
The global tourism class is part of what's happening at the University of Houston. I'm Marisa Ramirez.
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