|Students in the Culinary Arts program learn in the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center kitchen.|
January 19, 2010. East Jerusalem, Israel. Before he graduated from
high school, Armen knew he wanted to go into the
hotel business, and he knew he had the smarts and
skills to make it. His father, who has worked in
hotels for the past 38 years, encouraged his son to
go for his dream.
But as a Palestinian
Armenian Orthodox, Armen knew he would be facing a horizon
of limited options. Almost all of the hotel schools cater
to the Israeli people, requiring fluency in Hebrew. Armen speaks
some Hebrew, but his English is far better.
Once he crosses the educational barrier, he will face another
challenge: the job market for Palestinians and Armenians is restricted
to lower and middle-level jobs. No matter how smart, talented,
and hardworking he might be, he will never be able
to work his way up the ladder to a top
executive-level position in an Israeli hotel or even in an
Arab-run hotel. Israeli hotels simply do not allow it, and
Arab-run hotels are mostly family businesses where non-family employees are
not promoted to managerial positions.
This could be
very discouraging for any young man or woman his age.
But Armen has a plan, and the Professional Promotion Hospitality
Section at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is
helping him achieve it.
An open door
The Professional Promotion Hospitality Section (PPHS) at the Notre Dame
of Jerusalem Center was established in September of 1990 with
a clear mission: to serve and educate all people regardless
of their religion, gender, and race, and to support skilled
professionals in their social, moral, and ethical values and responsibilities.
In keeping with its commitment to universal service, the PPHS
at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is the only
hospitality school in East Jerusalem that offers classes in English.
Young Palestinians of low-income backgrounds are also offered scholarships funded
by organizations like Caritas, the St Vincent de Paul Society,
and the National Christian Association. About 99% of the students,
who range in age from 18 to 33, are from
East Jerusalem. Many of them would not have been able
to study anywhere else.
|The PPHS at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is the only hospitality school in East Jerusalem that offers classes in English.|
While opening the door to first-time students,
the school also offers ongoing training to hospitality professionals who
want to upgrade their knowledge and skills. The latter offering
is necessary, since many of the Palestinian hotels are run
by unskilled workers who do not have the same degree
of training and preparation (for lack of opportunity) as their
A training ground
hospitality school like the PPHS is specifically focused on offering
the theoretical and practical training that is needed to run
every aspect of a hotel. Its hands-on approach requires teachers
who are also professionals in the business, as well as
an on-site training ground for apprenticeship. Both teachers and real-time
training are made possible thanks to the PPHS’ location at
the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Guest House, an internationally renowned
Students of culinary arts in particular reap
the benefits of learning in the state-of-the-art kitchen of Notre
Dame’s French cuisine restaurant, La Rotisserie, considered one of the
finest in the city of Jerusalem. Notre Dame also has
three additional restaurants for hotel guests, including a special section
for fine pastries and cakes—an excellent opportunity for students specializing
in this area.
The PPHS course offering is structured
into four certification programs.
• The Higher Certificate Programs are
two-year full-time programs offered in cooperation with Bethlehem University’s Institute
of Hotel Management and Tourism and the Dublin Institute of
|A professional hospitality school like the PPHS is specifically focused on offering the theoretical and practical training that is needed to run every aspect of a hotel.|
The first program is the Rooms Division Management, which
aims at providing education and training to high school graduates
seeking a job in the Rooms Division Department of hotel
management. Courses include front desk procedures, night auditing, reservations, housekeeping
management, sales and marketing, hotel accounting, communication and presentation skills,
guest relations, languages, and more.
The second is the Culinary
Art of Food and Service, which aims at providing adequate
theoretical and practical training to high school graduates who a
seek a job in the Food & Beverage Department. Some
of the courses covered in this program include menu planning,
food production, Middle Eastern cuisine, pastry and baking, food safety
and hygiene, and service-related skills, among others.
• The Continuing Professional Development
Certificate offers ongoing professional training to men and women who
are already in the workforce and who want to brush
up their skills. It offers various subjects for certification, from
the culinary art of food preparation and an introduction to
business to specific training courses for administrative assistant positions, travel
clerks, and accounting clerks.
• The Award of Excellence is given
after completion of a series of English/Arabic translation courses.
finally, the Certificate of Attendance applies to any of the
subjects listed above.
A leg up
For the past
twenty years, the PPHS has succeeded in helping 90% of
its students find work at leading hotels, such as The
King David, The American Colony, The David Citadel, Jasser Palace
Intercontinental, and Jericho Intercontinental.
“Studying here has given
me some connections to the hotels that are involved in
the network, and it helped me to find a job
in a leading hotel in Jerusalem,” agreed Garo, an Armenian
student at PPHS.
However, even with the preparation and connections
they receive at Notre Dame, students like Armen still find
that the fulfillment of their highest aspirations will be difficult.
“We have a big problem here,” he said. “We
study here for two or three years and it’s good;
we’re happy. When we go to work, our target is
to reach for a good position in the future. But
here, if you’re not Israeli, your options are more limited."
“It’s not easy for us to live here,
as Armenians, as Palestinians,” he said simply.
with his father, Armen did find a solution. He will
complete his education in Jerusalem and travel to the States
or Europe to launch his career. He may eventually come
back… or his visits home may end up being just
It is not fair, but it
is his reality. In the meantime, his experience at the
PPHS is a good one, and he is grateful for
the help it is giving him.
“They are Christian
and I have good friends here. The atmosphere is good,
and the teachers are experienced and professional. It’s a good
opportunity,” he said.
To learn more about the
Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, visit the web site at