Casey Anacleto                                                                                                                                                                                              Kauai High School

Hospitality and tourism is a great and wide beneficial industry. After the LEI program I felt honored to be part of the event. The benefit of attending the program expanded my meaning of the hospitality industry and definitely impacts an interest in working in this industry someday. For me, I prefer working down at the pool and recreation of being an event coordinator because I love being outdoors and being organized and creative! Expecting to see many students from neighboring islands in different schools coming to the program made it even more exciting. Upon arrival, I felt nervous for some reason. I think it was because I might feel intimidated by other students but then again they don’t know me, and what I remember Julie Morikawa, Founder of LEI, saying was “It’s all about you today” and that saying lasted through my head the entire program. For this reason, I am a shy person at first and I needed something to make me feel comfortable and not awkward around others.

As we received our name tags and leis from the LEI staff, I felt a sense of Aloha and comfort. The LEI staff highly made a great impression towards me because everyone were so friendly, helpful, welcoming, and respectful. They made me feel as if I arrived to a hotel because of the way they provided service to my teacher, classmates, and I. This was something I wasn’t expecting and to experience this type service is unforgettable. After settling in with the rest of the other schools, it was time to listen to some guest speakers! My favorite speaker was Palakiko because he really knew how to keep everyone awake, laughing, and cheerful! What I noticed about him is that even if he made me laugh most of the time, he knew how to be serious and inspiring at the same time and I thank the staff for having him at the program. In addition, I also heard two other guest speakers who inspired me also. What I learned from one man was the five c’s of leadership then from the other man was the value of energy and time. Lastly, the last inspiring people who spoke to us were the five athletes from UH Manoa. To have athletes speak to us was awesome because I play basketball and being 5’2″ might cut it for me but coming from the athlete who said “height doesn’t matter” is what got me back up.

Heading to the Waikiki Marriott was the hotel my group got assigned. As we walked into the hotel, all the department managers lined up across from each other at the entrance and greeted all of us. At that moment, I felt so alive inside of me because things kept getting more interesting, which makes the program simply wonderful. Having the opportunity to tour and dine for lunch at the hotel was one of the things I enjoyed most about the program. To top off my experience, I definitely recommend this program to students across Hawaii especially because Hawaii is a popular tourist destination and the hospitality industry serves them completely.