Columbian College student Sean O'Neil and Elliott School of International Studies student Cynthia Yue traveled to Makassar, Indonesia, in May to attend the Forum for International Tourism and the Environment (FITE), a program that trains future leaders of the Indonesian tourism industry to advocate for sustainable tourism solutions and policies.
Over the spring 2019 semester, O'Neil and Yue served as 2019 FITE Fellows. In that role, they organized an online advocacy competition for 80 Indonesian students, helped select the top 10 finalists and remotely mentored them as they prepared to present arguments for sustainable tourism initiatives to 100 fellow tourism students and numerous Indonesian tourism experts and stakeholders. At the FITE 2019 conference, the two GW students provided in-person training to the finalists and presided over the final round of competition.
In addition to working with students from across Indonesia, O'Neil and Yue immersed themselves in Indonesian culture. They enjoyed traditional cuisine, visited landmarks such as Fort Rotterdam and watched stunning traditional performances and dances.
FITE is a partnership organized by the INSTITUT FRANÇAIS, the Embassy of France in Jakarta and Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism with support from George Washington University. Thanks to GW Director of Debate Paul Hayes, Attaché for Academic Affairs and University Cooperation Emilienne Baneth-Nouailhetasthe and Project Manager on Educational Cooperation Sandra Dao, this opportunity was a success for O'Neil and Yue as well as the many Indonesian students who gained insights on maritime heritage sustainable tourism. Over the past four years, more than 800 Indonesian tourism students have participated in the FITE conference. FITE's student-produced sustainable tourism advocacy videos have received over 100,000 views. And the program has been featured in six Indonesian newspapers.
Participants at FITE 2019
GWDebate’s support for the FITE initiative reflects our commitment to applying debate and deliberation education as a tool for global engagement and public service learning. The students would also like to thank the Politeknik Pariwisata School and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for hosting the event and making this unforgettable experience possible!