Hospitality students provide Winnipeg welcome to visiting athletes at Canada Summer Games

Winta Lakew and Terrance Luk (at left), with Summer Games volunteersAs thousands of athletes and spectators descend on Winnipeg for the 2017 Canada Summer Games, a group of Red River College students will be on hand to show them some of our trademark hospitality.

The five students — all of whom are completing the final stages of RRC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program — are volunteering as team leads overseeing the set-up and operations of the Athletes’ Village at the University of Manitoba.

Their work at the Village will help them fulfill the final co-op term required to complete the second year of their program, in which all five are majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

They first became involved with the Summer Games back in February, when instructor Krista Mask invited Jordon Lanthier, chair of accommodations for the event, to speak to her Rooms Management class about volunteer opportunities.

Mask says the students were immediately enthused, noting the Summer Games experience is perfect for those making their first forays into the industry.

“Many of my students have no work experience when they come to [RRC],” she explains. “And how do you build a resume without having had any paid positions?”

“This is a great opportunity, for them and their resumes — not only do they get to network with different people from all over, it’s also a huge boon in terms of tourism. And without volunteers, these types of events just don’t happen.”

Mask and the five students — Winta Lakew and Terrence Luk (both shown above, standing), and Lemuel Linag, Cyntia Pereira and Randi Spence — have been hard at work for the last few weeks.

Prior to the athletes’ arrival, they helped build the villages in the Games’ database, then allocated teams and sports to each. They’re now working various shifts at the villages, where they’re involved with everything from linens to overall logistics.

“Now we’re dealing with a lot of hotel-type things, like keys not working or missing accreditations, or rooms that are too hot or too cold,” she says. “It’s great fun — we’ve been having a really good time.”

For his part, Lanthier says the students have proven to be quick studies in their new roles, noting those tasked with working the Athletes’ Village are essentially helping to run “Manitoba’s largest hotel.”

“I’d say it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, but we seem to do a lot of major games here,” says Lanthier, who’s been in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years, and in the past has been involved with the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, and the 2003 Western Canada Summer Games in Selkirk.

“It is a great opportunity for the kids to take on a leadership role while in a volunteer position. It also shows it’s good to give back to your community.”

There are more than 2,000 athletes in Winnipeg for the Games, and at least 6,000 volunteers helping with all manner of operations. In addition to the Athletes’ Village at the U of M, there are satellite villages in Gimli and Kenora.

The Summer Games run until Aug. 12.