Hafa Adai (pronounced “half a day”) means “hello” in Guam’s native Chamorro language. This is just one of the phrases that Penn State Berks student Sasha De Bellis learned when she completed an internship at the the Outrigger Guam Beach Resort as part of the Penn State Berks Hospitality Management baccalaureate degree program. The internship ran from May 16 to August 11, 2017.
De Bellis had a thorough introduction to the “real world” of resort management at Outrigger Guam Beach Resort, a deluxe beachfront resort hotel in the Tumon Bay resort district. She had an opportunity to work in many different offices at the resort including sales and marketing, housekeeping, operator service, front desk, concierge, and the food and beverage experience exclusive to the club lounge “Voyagers.”
“International hospitality is my main interest,” explained De Bellis. “Since I am half Japanese and am fluent in Japanese, I wanted to concentrate on customer service, working face-to-face with Japanese guests. Since Japan is Guam’s number-one market, I was able to get a lot of practice.
“I’ve learned so much about different behaviors and expectations that people in other countries have when they travel and how they compare to Americans. In sales, I studied how to market to Japanese and Korean markets, how to create contracts with travel agencies abroad, and how to gauge occupancy rates. It has all been so interesting to learn about a different demographic.”
It wasn’t all work for De Bellis, who commented that she took every opportunity to go on an adventure, accompanying work friends on excursions such as hiking, cliff jumping, fishing, attending beach BBQs, taking boat rides, and snorkeling.
“I’ve befriended so many people who work at the hotel as well as guests from abroad who all wondered how I ever ended up in Guam and why I chose to be so far away from New Jersey,” stated De Bellis. “My fellow interns from Japan and I have also become very close and plan on seeing each other next summer, hopefully meeting in Tokyo, where I hope to land my next internship.”
In addition to all the lessons she learned through the internship, De Bellis also appreciated the way of life in Guam. “I really can appreciate the love that locals have here for their families. Family is priority and coming here was the best reminder of that. In the Northeast, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the aggressive lifestyle, individualistic mentality, and selfishness that may come along with it, but I was able to sit back and witness a different culture which was very refreshing. People here are so down to earth and giving.”
De Bellis continued her studies in the Hospitality Management degree program at University Park this fall. When asked how the program at Penn State Berks helped her to prepare for her internship, she stated that Berks introduced her to many business-related topics in the industry.
“I took several Accounting classes and a Business Statistics class that got my feet wet on the topic of how to calculate the occupancy rate and gauge a hotel’s performance. Many of the concepts that I learned in class appeared in my daily tasks during my internship.”