NSU signs agreement with Seychelles academy; international outreach continues to grow

Northwestern State University signed an agreement with the Seychelles Tourism Academy that will facilitate student and faculty exchanges and internship opportunities for students at the island national academy and students in NSU’s Hospitality Management and Tourism program. Formalizing the agreement are, seated from left, Georgina Dhillon representing Seychelles and NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. Standing are Dr. Margaret Kilcoyne, faculty Connie Jones and Landon Amberg; students Terriann Marchand, Tommy Remson and Laura Saucier, who will participate in an upcoming exchange; and faculty Valerie Salter, Dr. Marcus Jones, Loletta Wynder, Telba Espinoza-Contreras and Dr. Pete Gregory.

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University is continuing to develop more agreements with international institutions that promote exchange opportunities, language immersion programs and experiential learning for students and faculty.

In the latest of these, NSU and the Seychelles Tourism Academy in the Republic of Seychelles signed a memorandum of understanding that will facilitate exchanges between STA faculty and those in NSU’s hospitality management and tourism (HMT) program and help each institution place students in internships and other training opportunities for the hospitality industry.

Three recent graduates from NSU’s HMT program, Tommy Remsen of Baton Rouge, Terrian Marchand of Natchitoches and Laura Saucier of Alexandria, have secured internships in Seychelles and will work in a luxury hotel for 4-6 months where they can network with other professionals. The school is connected to tourism hubs around the world and will provide many networking advantages for NSU students.

“This is the first agreement; it is not the last,” said Georgina Dhillon, who represented Seychelles at the signing and noted there are more opportunities for NSU to have a presence on Mauritius and other islands in the Indian Ocean. “Our point of view is about relationships, diversity and inclusion. You will learn that international students from all over the world are studying there.”

NSU’s relationship with Seychelles began through the Creole Heritage Center when Dhillon visited Louisiana in the interest of Creole studies and discovered the presence of the Creole culture in New Orleans and in the Cane River region. Creole culture features prominently in the Seychelles where the official languages are Seychelles Creole, French and English.

After meeting with Loletta Wynder, project coordinator for NSU’s Creole Heritage Center, Wynder directed Dhillon to Marcus Jones, vice president for University Affairs, who has taken a lead role in developing international exchange agreements with other institutions. From there, a conversation with faculty in NSU’s Department of Hospitality Management and Tourism began.

The Seychelles Tourism Academy is a training institution established by that country’s government, where students may complete their training either on a full-time basis or through an apprenticeship. The academy is a leading hospitality and tourism training institute that prepares individuals for careers in hotels, guests houses, restaurants, airline offices, airports, travel agencies, cruise ships and more. Since gaining independence from Britain in the 1970s, tourism has been a significant industry for the island nation, which is located in the Indian Ocean east of the African coast and is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs, nature reserves and exclusive resorts.

The Seychelles Tourism Academy has fostered affiliations with several international hotel chains, such as the Hilton group and Le Meridien Group, as well as with other institutions that specialize in training professionals for the hospitality and tourism industry.

Per the new agreement, STA will coordinate internships for NSU students that can last between three and six months, during the summer or during a regular semester for students working at one of the main island’s four- or five-star hotels where they will live with other students. NSU will reciprocate by providing academic training to STA students seeking training in management, entrepreneurship and, for faculty, student counseling.

Earlier this year, NSU signed two new agreements with universities in Mexico, Universidad Veracruzana, and Universidad de Quintana Roo, with NSU students participating in a 4-week summer language immersion program with Quintana Roo. Administrators have in place an agreement with Universidad Veracruzana to transfer credits into the engineering technology degree program and are working to finalize a dual degree agreement with that university. One student from Veracruzana is already participating in the transfer program.

Also, for the second summer in a row, NSU sent a group of students to the Université d’Angers, France, to participate in a 4-week language immersion program.

Last semester, NSU had more than 100 international students from 22 countries on campus and the number is growing. In response, NSU opened the International Student Resource Center on campus, which assists not only international students enrolled at NSU, but also students interested in studying abroad. The center, located in Russell Hall Room 227, helps international students navigate a new environment and become more involved with student life on campus.

For information on international study, contact ISRC director Telba Espinoza-Contreras at contrerast@nsula.edu or (318) 357-5939.