Six students crossed the globe from India to Invermere, to take a new College Of The Rockies program on hospitality management. Their instructor, Anna-Marie Rautenbach, also came to the Valley from afar. She is originally from South Africa, although she has been living in Canada for the past seven years.
Ms. Rautenbach said she can empathize with her students as English is her second language too and since she only moved to Invermere a few weeks ago.
“We’re all new,” she said. “I’m also going to be a little bit culture shocked.”
One of Ms. Rautenbach’s students, Jazz Singh, said: “I heard a lot about Canada from my friends. Everybody wants to come to Canada.”
Like Mr. Singh, Nav Kaur also came to Invermere after hearing good things about Canadians. Her cousin, who lives in Vancouver, recommended that she pursue a future in Canada too.
Mr. Singh is hoping to find a position in hotel management in Vancouver once he completes the program. While he wants to stay in Canada, he also dreams of starting a hotel in India that his family can run.
Mr. Singh has never stayed in a hotel, but that has only increased his interest in the industry. Business people and film stars travel the world and need hotels wherever they land, he said, adding that hotels are big business and that he would like to serve people.
He is enthusiastic about the hospitality program and is looking forward to learning “how to run the business and get a lot of knowledge.”
He is also enjoying Invermere. “I love this place,” he said. “The people are very good and the lifestyle is very good.”
Har Kaur (not related) echoed his sentiment.
“It’s beautiful out here and the people are lovely,” she said.
Ms. Har Kaur, who has already earned a food technology diploma, is planning to move to Calgary eventually to work at a restaurant.
Vinil Mathew Thachanalil also imagines himself settling in Calgary after he completes his studies. He earned a business degree in India, but is expanding on his education in hopes of becoming an HR manager at a hotel. With a big grin, he said he wants to be able to “hire the people I like the most.”
Sandy Chandramohan has entrepreneurial aspirations. He wants to learn how to run a business so he can return to India and potentially start a restaurant of his own. He said many Canadian tourists visit India and enjoy the spicy food.
“I can make whatever they want,” he said.
Arsh Singh Saini said the group enjoyed throwing snowballs at Panorama Mountain Resort. It was the students’ first time playing with snow.
Mr. Singh Saini, who is interested in fitness and personal training, said: “We are going to try every adventure sport… It’s nice to explore things.”
Turning to her students, Ms. Rautenbach said Invermere is “a good starting point” for their careers and for their introduction to Canada because it is a small, close-knit community, where both the people and the hospitality industry are exceptionally welcoming.
Ms. Rautenbach expects more students to join the program in September. The hospitality management program has space to accommodate 20 students, and additional international students have been accepted into the program and are waiting for their student visas to arrive.