Yalla Yalla! Tourism Students Take Egyptian Adventure

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“Yalla Yalla!” means “let’s go!” in Arabic, and was a term that 20 JWU students learned during their FAM trip to Egypt. Students majoring in Tourism & Hospitality Management at JWU get to plan and lead a FAM (familiarization) trip to a foreign location. When I found out I would be heading to Egypt for my FAM trip, I was in complete shock.

The FAM trip is part of the Tour Management Operations class that most of us have been looking forward to from the moment we learned we were accepted to JWU. At the beginning of the term, students are split into groups of 2 or 3 and assigned to a specific day of the trip that they will plan and lead.

VIDEO: EXPERIENCE THE CULTURE OF EGYPT THROUGH THE EYES OF JWU STUDENTS.

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"We developed a bond with each other that will last the rest of our lives."

During the trip, the student leaders give educational talks, lead the group through the day’s activities, and make executive decisions. It was extremely valuable to be able to practice this in real life; no other school that I know of gives you the chance to do this.

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Every class gets to go somewhere different and exciting, and students don’t find out the location until the first day of the term. When Assistant Professor Tiffany Rhodes, who teaches the class and leads the tours, told us we would be going to Egypt, we had a lot to be excited about. What could be more awesome? I couldn't wait to see the sites and learn about ancient pharaohs and Egyptian gods.

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When we arrived in Egypt, we were all strangers — not only to the country but to each other. It was weird to be in such an unfamiliar place with people we didn’t know well.

We got to see all of the must-see destinations, like pyramids, temples and ancient hieroglyphics. We rode camels, slept on a feluccas (traditional wooden sailboats used in Egypt) on the Nile River, and went into tombs of some of the most famous people in history (like King Tut!).

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"We had an unforgettable educational experience and gained a whole new outlook on life."

We interacted with locals and saw poverty firsthand, including children begging in the streets and unimaginable amounts of trash. It was shocking and eye-opening.

But, we also experienced the positive side of life in Egypt. We were invited into people’s homes and given authentic meals. I had never experienced such hospitality. We met and talked to locals on the street and saw children waving at our tour bus while we rode through villages. To realize how happy and kind these people were, even though they had so little, was an awakening for me. I realized not only how lucky I am to have the things I have, but also just how meaningless material things in our lives really are.

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Traveling to Egypt gave us so much. We made memories that will last a lifetime while bonding with our classmates. We had an unforgettable educational experience that taught us how to be better tour guides and learned how to be good to the world. And, we gained a whole new outlook on life.

There are no words to describe just how much this trip affected me and I will never forget this incredible experience that Johnson & Wales has given me. The feeling that I have of endless gratitude will stay with me forever.

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