On April 6, 2016, ClimbHI and the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) will kick off the 5th annual LEI program by expanding with a full program on Kauai. LEI is a HTA-sponsored workforce development project to inspire Hawai‘i’s youth to select careers in the Hawai‘i visitor industry by providing them with the necessary means to achieve success. From the student’s perspective LEI represents an opportunity for Leadership, Exploration and Inspiration, and from the hospitality industry’s perspective LEI provides an opportunity to Lead, Expose, and Inspire Hawaii’s youth.  LEI 2016 will take place on four different islands (Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island), include over 800 high school students and 100 college students from across the state, and involve over 85 businesses.

Kauai’s program will include 140 high school students from 4 high schools on Kauai and Niihau. The day will consist of the following:

9:15am-10:30am: Sheraton Kauai Resort- Leadership and inspiration through guest speakers and Hawaiian culture/sense of place trainings

10:45am-2pm: Poipu hotel visit- Students will be divided into groups and sent to different hotels for an overview of the hotel industry including a dining etiquette piece for lunch.

2pm-3:30pm: Students return to the Sheraton Kauai for a career fair to expose them to the variety of roles in the hospitality industry and post-secondary education opportunities.

To get a glimpse of LEI, please use the links to view two short videos: http://climbhi.org/testimonials/lei-testimonial-videos/

ClimbHI is inviting you to the career fair to share your enthusiasm and inspiration as an industry leader. Please let us know if you’re able to join us from 2pm-3pm at the Sheraton Kauai on April 6th. We will have a standard trade-show table available for you. Giveaways are greatly appreciated for the students and set-up will begin at 1pm, so let us know if you need any assistance.

If you have further questions, please email Anafe Campo at anafe@climbhi.org.

We want to share a testimony on the impact LEI has made:

With the little knowledge I had about the L.E.I program, my first steps into the convention center were taken with anticipation as to what I would be taught and who I would meet. I was given broad information before entering on where we were going, that we’d be learning more about the tourism and hospitality industry, and that many other schools would be joining us. I wasn’t very familiar with the industry and knew this was my opportunity to expand my interests. Just as the acronym “L.E.I” implies, this experience has lead me to explore and inspired me to make it a goal to give back to my community.

“Leadership.” A word foreign to my vocabulary because my whole life I’ve kept a quiet phase among myself. To lead, I thought, meant to take control and simply give orders, but from this program, I learned there is more meaning to leadership. Everyone has their own paved pathway to a successful life but there are also many barriers that stir up confusion as to where one should go. To be a leader, is not to tell others which road to follow but, to guide them onto a path that they will find benefits for themselves. I got to meet many mentors and listen to different experiences from students who are returnees of the program, their passion for LEI really interests me.

“Exploration”. A word I never understood well because with parents who hold a busy schedule and a brother who has moved into another state, I lack the opportunity to indulge in Hawaii’s attractions and popular scenery. Minus a competition that occurred the same week as this program, this became my first experience of actually entering a hotel, not only to experience their delicious food and relaxing rooms but, also to learn about the workers who communicate with one another in order to ensure a guest’s satisfaction with their stay. I learned that a lot of departments work different areas of the hotel, but they’re all connected. One job leads to another, which is why being a part of the tourism and hospitality industry is an opportunity for people who hold many different types of skills.

“Inspiration.” One of the many things I gained from being a participant in this program. My paradigm shift occurred when a time in the program had everyone changed into LEI t-shirts. It seems unusual to say that “changing t-shirts” encouraged me but, it really did. The minute we put on our t-shirts, we did not belong to any school; we were no longer classified by the areas we came from; and when we all put on that same t-shirt, we became united. The simple change allowed us to communicate and actually meet each another rather than focus on our indifferences. We entered with our individual school pride and left as a cohesive unit.

My goal for senior year is definitely to attend the L.E.I program again. I would love to share what inspired me and what I learned from this experience. Tourism is Hawaii’s life which keeps it flourishing. Hospitality is what leaves a mark on the ongoing cycle of tourists that we welcome to our islands with warm Aloha. Hawaii is the home of Aloha, and programs like LEI remind us students that each one of us is essential to the success of our islands. — Farrington High School Student