From education to employment

Tennessee Adventure Funded by Turing for SERC Students

Six students from South Eastern Regional College (SERC) have made their year at college a particularly memorable one with a trip to Tennessee. The students travelled to Nashville on a two-week work experience and cultural visit designed to hone their professional cookery skills. The trip was funded by the Turing Scheme, the UK’s global programme for studying, working and living abroad, offering once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for personal and professional development for students across the world.

Students Rory Watson, Ben Povey, Ellie Hamilton and Maisa Muir (all from Bangor), Catrina Stanfield (Newtownards), and Conor Burns (Bryansford), from the Level 3 NVQ Professional Cookery, Patisserie and Confectionery courses, spent their first week working at Dream Hotels in Nashville, before heading to Knoxville to work in the local community alongside students and staff at the University of Tennessee.

Lecturer Brian Magill, one of the SERC team who accompanied the students, said, “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to immerse themselves in professional cookery in another country. Besides learning about Appalachian cuisine through essential hands-on experience in local restaurants and resorts, the students had the chance to show off some of their homegrown repertoire during festivities organised for St Patrick’s Day celebrations and to enjoy a host of US cultural activities.”

Student Ellie Hamilton, from Bangor, said, “Learning about new foods and styles of cooking and how the line kitchen works – where the cook supervises a specific area of the kitchen and reports to the head chef – was very interesting.  The trip has made me more culturally aware and more confident in my own skills and abilities.”

Conor Burns from Bryansford said, “It was an incredible experience, and I loved every minute of the visit.  Everything in the States is so much bigger, from the food to the service levels, and everyone is so friendly.”

Brian concluded, “Experiences such as this visit to the United States, and the chance to get a flavour for the industry in another country, really widen the horizons for our students in terms of peer learning, progression and individual career aspirations.  It really has shown them what they can be and what they are capable of. This one trip could reshape their future. We are delighted that we have been able to resume this valuable element of the learning experience at SERC.”

SERC was the only College of Further Education to offer what is termed student mobilities during the past year.  For this trip alone, 50% of the students applied for a new passport – which demonstrates widening participation – and 100% of the students involved deemed the trip very successful.

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