30 September 2022

The exchange programme, funded by the Baden-W├╝rttemberg Foundation, is a result of a partnership between DHBW and UMP, which was going to ensure collaboration between the two institutions and includes student and staff exchange, Tourism Management curriculum development, joint internationalisation projects on Sustainable Tourism, and joint virtual lectures.

The programme has given Ms Sealetse the opportunity to gain intercultural skills through teaching and learning, attend meetings, workshops, and also to meet with delegates from other countries.

“I have attended my first research retreat in the Black Forest region of Barden W├╝rttemberg. The colloquium was attended by colleagues from Hospitality and Tourism departments from CPUT and Namibia University of Science and Technology,” she says.

“I participated in a colloquium where the group was given the opportunity to present their areas of research, which led to sharing of ideas and possibilities for future collaborations. All participants received valuable feedback about their respective research projects."

For her Doctorate in Food Operations Management thesis Ms Sealetse is focusing on food insecurity in higher education and the impact it has on students’ health, academic performance and success. It was prompted by reports on food insecurity in higher education which indicated that the majority of students experiencing starvation and hunger are students reliant on financial aid.

Ms Sealetse explains that in the South African higher education context students in need of financial aid are funded by NSFAS. A portion of this funding is allocated for food. This allowance is paid directly into students’ bank accounts to afford them the freedom and financial responsibility of managing their own finances.

“However, this responsibility is shifted to students without offering proper management skills. There are no measures put in place to ensure that funds made available for the alleviation of food insecurity are used for the intended purpose." 

UMPMs Sealetse has been attending a series of workshops and hospitality visits in Germany.

Exchange enriches cultural capital

Besides her research work, some of Ms Sealetse’s engagements include intercultural training, which was presented by the Female International Research (FIRE), a network of female researchers from Germany, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania.

“One of the network’s purposes is to support female researchers in both Germany and Southern and Western Africa. The training was enlightening and thought provoking particularly for academics in educational institutions that cater for students from diverse cultural backgrounds,”  adds Sealetse.

She was also a part of the DHBW team that hosted a delegation of Tourism and Hospitality staff and students from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana (UCC), which spent a week in Germany on a cultural exchange programme, with the aim to expose students to the host country, its people, culture and tourism to stimulate an exchange of ideas for the development of innovative and sustainable tourism activities in Ghana.

For her the Ghana visit emphasised the importance of social interaction amongst students, as well as learning outside the classroom.

“It promotes social interaction fosters independence and affords students the opportunity to learn about different social issues and cultures. I also presented a lecture on South African heritage and culture to Dr Fehlner’s Intercultural communication class,” she adds.

“One of the activities of the Ghana delegation itinerary was a visit to one of DHBW’s industry partner, Travel-to-nature, a sustainable tour operator which has committed itself to sustainable business approaches. The agency promotes social, economic and environmental approaches which benefit both the traveller and the travel destination.”

Ms Sealetse further explains that the exchange programme has prompted an awareness about sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.

“It has encouraged me to put more emphasis on sustainability as a concept in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management curriculum with the purpose of producing Hospitality graduates who champion sustainable and innovative business practices,” she adds.

Some of her highlights include, exploring European cuisine with particular interest in the curriculum components of the culinary studies and nutrition module that she facilitate at UMP. "I attended an informative tour of Pfalzgraf confectionery, one of the biggest bakeries in Germany with a production of over 40 000 pastries a day and also learnt about German and Italian cuisine and their way of cooking.

It was interesting to learn the black forest cake was developed in the Black Forest mountainous region of southwest Germany. I also explored the Champagne region and went on a champagne tour in Reims. I am excitedly looking forward to sharing these experiences with my students.

I am also learning the language and culture of German people and the many interesting facts about Germany. This experience has enriched my cultural capital which has made a significant contribution to my research.”

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures supplied.