Sharing Center Stage
Food for Comfort
Fashioning a Future
Eyes on environment
Peace Corps Experience Lives on
Leslie Jean-Pierre ’91 was in the Peace Corps from spring 1994 through December 1996 in the Republic of Guinea,
West Africa. Working in preventative health care and community development, he applied for, and received a grant to
build a health center. But his involvement with the organization did not end there.
When Jean-Pierre returned home to New York City, he went to work for the New York Peace Corps office, first as an
intern and then as a recruiter. Through his job, he met other returned Peace Corps volunteers with experiences similar to his. “A lot of Africans in the Peace Corps asked me about the amount of people of color who join the Peace Corps … I asked if they were interested in starting a group to promote the Peace Corps among minorities.” It led him to found the Minority Peace Corps Association (MPCA) in 2001.
MPCA now has close to 300 members and is open to any returned Peace Corps volunteer, their family and their
friends. Its mission is to promote community service, raise awareness about the Peace Corps, and provide support to
returned and serving volunteers of color.
Beyond being president, web master, board member and advisor for MPCA, Jean-Pierre also runs two tech companies
he founded, TJP Networking and Geeks and Co.
About his own Peace Corps experience, Jean-Pierre says, “I learned to appreciate all the things about my culture in America, and I learned to appreciate things about other people’s cultures and to share — to take a little bit from my culture and share with them, and take a little bit from their culture and understand how and why they do things.”
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All in the Marrakech Family
Working for a family-owned business has its
plusses, even if you’re not a member of the family.
Nafissa ‘Nina’ Saidi ’02, ’04 M.B.A., director
of revenue and sales for Es Saadi Gardens &
Resort in Marrakech, Morocco, can attest to that.
Saidi oversees revenue management, sales
and reservations for the luxury resort that dates
back to 1952 when Jean Bauchet built Casino
de Marrakech, Africa’s first casino. Since then
Bauchet added a five-star, 150-room hotel, 90
suites, 10 villas, meeting rooms, swimming
pools, restaurants and much more.
The familial atmosphere and service at Es
Saadi prevail. Guests “get to know the resort in
a more personable way when the owners are in
the lobby welcoming them and inquiring about
their stay. It impacts their overall experience,”
says Saidi. For employees, working for a family-owned
business allows for more flexibility and
empowerment, and “enables creativity and thinking outside of the box … It allows us to
react quickly to guests’ needs,” she says. This
personalized customer service has paid off — 30
percent of the guests are repeat visitors.
The Es Saadi is now run by three generations
of the Bauchet family, and Saidi feels like a member
of the family herself, not just an employee.
Despite economic woes, the resort has had increasing
numbers of guests over the past months
and the tourism in Morocco has remained steady.
With tourism doing well, Saadi has seen some
interesting hospitality trends in Morocco
including vocation vacations. “The concept of
vocation vacations is to learn a new skill or to
realize a dream while on vacation.” The Es Saadi
plans to start two-day cooking courses for guests
this year, teaching traditional Moroccan cuisine
and Moroccan fusion, and coupling that with
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Denver Campus Associate Professor Kimberly Tranter and six hospitality
students attended the Governor’s 2009 Conference on Tourism in Pueblo, Colo.
Tranter also accompanied nine students to the Colorado Hotel & Lodging
Association Conference at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.