While most of us were scraping ice from the windscreens in January, travel and tourism students from West Nottinghamshire College were enjoying a canoe trip down the river in 37 degree temperatures!
They swapped the classroom for The Gambia for seven days during a fact-finding mission to learn all about the African culture, how to manage ‘responsible tourism’ and get to grips with some work experience.
Staying at the Kombo Beach hotel situated on Kotu beach, the group of 13 students went on many adventures.
One of the main elements of the trip was to visit students at The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG). The institute was established in 2008 and delivers accredited training programmes in travel and tourism to the people in The Gambia. Students were able to see how they learn on similar courses to them, focusing on responsible tourism which acknowledges differences between cultures and environments.
Student Abbie Greenwood, 19, said: “They learn fairly similar things to us as West Notts, but they don’t have as many computers or up-to-date work books. Everyone speaks really good English and it was good to meet them in their college setting as well as enjoy some time at the beach party with them.”
Getting in touch with nature was another favourite for the group as they had the opportunity to visit a monkey park as well as see the range of wildlife in the jungle from a canoe ride along the River Gambia.
Student Molly Stonier, 18, said: “We saw so many animals on our visit and we were astounded at how many cows and goats just roam the streets freely! We loved the jeep safari to.”
Trying new food was also a highlight of the trip. Cooking with Ida immersed the students into traditional African cuisine with a difference. Students enjoyed shopping for ingredients with Ida while dressed in traditional African costume which Ida provides in a range of styles and sizes.
Ida Cham-Njie, originally from The Gambia, studied hotel tourism and catering management in the UK before returning to her homeland. After working at a number of hotels she started running cookery courses from her home in Brufut.
Student Ebonie Fell, 17, said: “Our time with Ida was brilliant. It was so interesting to learn from her and getting to cook and try new food and experience the culture was great fun.”
Tutor Claire Craig added: “It was great to see our students getting engaged in a whole variety of work experience on the trip. One student got involved in beach work experience, helping to clean this beautiful environment while others worked in the hotel in front of house and housekeeping teams alongside their Gambian student peers. Others were able to help in a Gambian primary school to assist the teachers in class.
“Overall, it was a very eye-opening experience for our groups in terms of learning about a new culture and seeing how students abroad work on similar qualifications to them.”