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Master of Arts students gain experience organizing a charity event at the Caux campus of Swiss Hotel Management School, in association with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Sparkling banquet tables surrounded by white chairs are arranged artfully in the grand hall of Caux Palace. A red carpet leads in from the lobby, where standing tables and a photo backdrop have been set up. On Friday the 13th of January 2023, Swiss Hotel Management School’s Master of Arts students in Events Management had the privilege of organizing a masquerade charity gala with the theme “Hearts Behind the Masks” in support of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Stephanie Hawawini, events lecturer for SHMS and the supervisor for this charity gala, notes that this event was a challenge from the start. With over ten years of experience in luxury hospitality spanning London, New York, and Paris, she understands from practice the ins and outs of event planning, and can use that work experience to guide students. There was much anticipation leading up to the evening; not only was this class of master’s students smaller than usual for an event of this magnitude, which meant a lot more responsibility for each individual, but the event itself was set right after the holiday break, which meant that everyone had to be up and running right after getting back on campus.
The students did not disappoint.
On the day of the event, you might catch a glimpse of a student urgently dashing from one place to the next or bobbling a tray, but the event seems like it runs flawlessly, from service to entertainment. Master’s student Linh Thuy Nguyen from Vietnam, operating as the event team’s HR Manager for the charity gala, details how nervous she was about planning an event for the ICRC. “It was a hard shift after the break, but I think we nailed it,” she says, specifying that though students were nervous, it was because they were too detail-oriented about everything.
Another student, Julissa Vasquez David from the Dominican Republic, is confident in their event planning. As the assistant kitchen manager, she feels that she could put into practice what they learned in the events management classes and test their teamwork and patience. There is emphasis on the management and planning side because of the number of student volunteers helping with coat check and service, among other things. The event really captures the idea of helping each other, whether it is fellow classmates with a project, or helping a stranger abroad. The theme of “Hearts Behind the Masks” expresses these ideas along with empathy, which is so important in both charity and hospitality.
Five guests attended the evening on behalf of the ICRC, including a Human Rights expert from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Erika Oman Chappuis, the communications officer of the ICRC Central Tracing Agency office for Ukraine which aims to locate people, exchange messages, reunite families, and clarify the fate of missing persons caught up in conflict. A video of the history and work of the ICRC was shown during the evening along with a presentation by Mrs. Chappuis.
Ms. Hawawini looks forward to helping students with future charity events, perhaps on an even larger scale. And about the master’s students for the “Hearts Behind The Masks” event, she has only positive things to say. “They managed to pull off a very good and professional event in a very short amount of time,” she says with a smile, “which was very impressive, and I am very proud.”
Proceeds from this charity gala event go towards the ICRC CTA restoring family links programme in Ukraine.