Volume 17, Number 44 | March 24 - 31, 2005

Bergtraum student learns about tourism in Hong Kong

Tiffany King in Hong Kong last week with her Murry Bergrtraum teacher, Claire Panazzolo.

By DIVYA WATAL

Most 17-year-olds float through the hallowed halls of high school with little or no sense of what they want to do with their lives. But Tiffany King isn’t one of them.

The Murry Bergtraum High School senior not only knows she wants to be in the hospitality and tourism business once she graduates, she’s even whizzing around the world competing in international trade fairs. King recently returned from Hong Kong, having participated in the Virtual Enterprises Trade Fair. She was one of four New York City high school seniors selected to participate and the only one from a Lower Manhattan school.

“It was great,” said King, who was in China all of last week. “I met a lot of people from different cultures – even people from California – and really got to know their lifestyles.”

The budding entrepreneur received an edifying dose of globalization and multiculturalism thanks to the National Academy Foundation, which has established 650 career-themed small schools across the country. At Murry Bergtraum, King attends the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. Needless to say, the academy’s curriculum fits her ambitions perfectly.

The academy sponsored King and the three other New York City students who participated in the trade fair, which was held this year at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. For three days, students from all over the world showcased the products and services of their virtual companies. King and her peers demonstrated their competencies in business planning, marketing, selling, self-management, public relations and communications.

“Tiffany did a great job in salesmanship and communications,” said Claire Panazzolo, a teacher at Murry Bergtraum, who chaperoned King to China.

“The whole time, Tiffany even went around with a sign on her back saying what booth she represented,” she gushed, clearly unable to contain praise for her star student. Panazzolo teaches the school’s “Virtual Enterprise” class, in which 22 seniors run every aspect of a simulated company. This year, the company is called Virtual Voice, and it’s an online travel magazine.

King was selected out of the class of 22 for the China jaunt because she was “the most well-rounded and qualified student,” her teacher said.

And she obviously represented her school well – Murry Bergtraum ended up winning the “Best Overseas Virtual Enterprise” award, sharing it with a fellow New Yorker from Richmond Hill High School in Queens.

But more than winning, it was the exposure to a foreign country and business environment that stimulated King.

“They’re very nice over there,” the teenager said, musing about her experiences in Hong Kong. “It’s extremely crowded—like New York—but more crowded, and the people are more friendly and hospitable.”

It was an enlightening and exciting spring break for King, even though it involved more work than play. Now, she’s back into the daily grind of school and the weekly demands of her internship at an advertising firm.

But the motivated 17-year-old isn’t giving her business drive a moment’s rest. Next stop: the New York City Trade Fair on April 8. Murry Bergtraum’s Virtual Voice class is pareparing an international-themed booth, and King will be right there in the center of it all.


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