Bristol Community College: Home of Hospitality!
The Community College Residency Program (CCRP) is an opportunity offered to Humphrey Fellows as a supplement to their Humphrey year and includes a one-week learning/sharing experience at a community college in the United States. Mr. Ventura Mufume was hosted by Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts. His visit included trips to several different cities in the Fall River area that demonstrated a coordinated community effort to improve the economy across cities. Mr. Mufume shares his reflection on his experience below.
My Community College Residency Program (CCRP) experience was as if the entire Humphrey Fellowship Program was combined into one week. The cordiality demonstrated by my host institution, Bristol Community College (BCC) in Fall River, Massachusetts proved that they not only teach hospitality management, they show it to their guests. Firstly, I was honored to be welcomed at Providence airport by none other than the Dean of Business and Information Management, Dr. William Berardi, who waited for me despite my delayed flight arrival. Dr. Berardi warned me of what awaited me. He told me, “We will feed you for the week…”, and he meant it! From the first lunch that day, BCC had me taste the best cuisine Fall River can offer, including the ‘Shrimp Mozambique’ and ‘Chicken Mozambique’, a rare reminiscence of Mozambican cuisine.
Contrary to my initial assumption, the program encompassed a number of activities and institutions beside BCC. The program included activities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts where I visited many other institutions and sites in Bridgewater, Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford, Massachusetts and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In these places I learned, networked, and had receptions as well as guided tours of Bridgewater State University, New Bedford Chamber of Commerce, New Bedford Whaling Museum, and the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council in Pawtucket. These activities jointly provided an insight of local hotel management and tourism vis-à-vis economic development, infrastructure development, human capital development, and a historical account of industrialization and whaling in Fall River.
That week, I also met with the BCC president, Bridgewater State University president, and the Fall River mayor, 23-year old Mr. Jasiel Correia who shared his vision for relaunching the city’s economy by improving public infrastructure. It was impressive to see three communities working together on a project proposal for the Working Cities Challenge Initiative. The program consists of a competitive fund provided by the U.S. federal government to promote economic growth in low-income communities and to enhance the employment and employability of qualified labor force. In Massachusetts, the fund was used to relaunch the economy of postindustrial city of Springfield that has suffered years of population and economic decline.
My biggest impression of the U.S. educational model of community colleges is its comprehensiveness. It provides all necessary conditions for community college students to be thoroughly prepared for the labor market. An example is the Certified Nursing Assistant Program at BCC that provides students access to state-of-art technologies including talking mannequins for simulation, a fully equipped lab and a high caliber faculty.
In Mozambique, vocational training institutions have gone through mixed trajectories with technical assistance and funding from international development agencies shrinking since the mid-90’s, consequently de-galvanizing the training of the labor force that once drove the economy during the critical post-independence early years. Further challenges were posed by the countrywide expansion of universities and a downturn in job creation in the economy which saw an incipient absorption of locally trained technicians as well as those who returned from the former socialist partner countries.
The CCRP added a milestone onto my Humphrey experience by enabling me to see how institutional arrangements shape economic development locally. I also noticed that community colleges like BCC could host Humphrey Fellowship cohorts given their remarkable hospitality, their ties with the private sector, local government, and the opportunity they offer Humphrey Fellows to mentor host students who are emerging leaders.
To adapt and replicate in my country the lessons learned in this trip, I intend to establish a vocational training school as a center of excellence whose curriculum is driven by market needs, has Christian foundations, and one that can be affordable to all social classes.
My favorite moment from the week was to taste Shrimp Mozambique in Rhode Island, a good replication of the traditional Mozambican food.
In the photo: Ventura Mufume poses during his visit to Bristol Community College