Volunteering at the FAB school in Pokhara, Nepal

At the end of March 2019, I had the opportunity to embark on a fascinating and highly rewarding experience in Pokhara, Nepal. This was thanks to Jean-Gabriel Pérès, ESSEC alumnus and member of the Global MBA Alliance of Strategic Leaders. While Mr. Pérès was CEO of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, he participated in the funding and establishment of Right4Children, a Pokhara-based association which aims to improve the lives and living standards of Nepalese children, youth and their families through education, protection, and livelihood.

Right4Children, in collaboration with GATE School, an established Nepalese Hospitality Educational institution, founded the FAB school in 2017, the first full-scholarship vocational school in Pokhara. The school’s aim is to improve the lives of disadvantaged youths through job skill training in three areas of hospitality training: Culinary, F&B Service and Housekeeping. The school has been training up to 100 students per year with 95% training success rate, and 80% of graduates being successfully placed in jobs in their respective areas of training. 

The students, who are typically aged between 18 and 20, spend six months training at FAB school and are then placed at a Nepalese hotel for a six-month internship. FAB school has partnerships with Hilton and Mövenpick, who together take up to 80% of their students for internships. 

Upon hearing about the programme, I was immediately interested in contributing. Mr. Pérès connected me with the management team of FAB school, and my one-week trip to Nepal was easily arranged. 

During this time, I conducted training sessions on various subjects of Food & Beverage, subjects which, with my 8+ years of experience in the field, are my bread and butter. I explored topics such as F&B concepts, the sequence of service, wine and beverage knowledge, and conducted practical workshops such as Cappuccino froth-making and Hollandaise sauce training sessions. 

The minimum wage in Nepal is around US$100 per month, but many workers earn as little as US$30-50 per month in irregular working conditions. The FAB school represents the gateway to a better life, offering students an opportunity to secure a better job in Nepal and access internships and employment abroad.

The youth, many coming from particularly underprivileged backgrounds, and some of them orphans of the 2015 earthquake, beam with hope. They are curious and quick to learn, and even requested for specific subjects they wished to cover with me during my time in Pokhara. 

The experience was rewarding to say the least, especially in terms of the exchanges I had with the students. Conducting such trainings for anyone who has studied hospitality during their undergrad and has a few years of operational experience, is very comfortable. For the Nepalese students, it means the world. 

To make more of an impact, I decided to gather a small fund before traveling to Nepal, with the aim of buying school supplies for the students. By combining the ESSEC community with my personal network, I managed to raise €1200 in just over a week. This amounts to more than one year’s salary in Nepal and enabled the purchase of a video projector, a color printer, a collection of books, glassware, and crockery, among many other items.

Given that this experience was highly fulfilling for the FAB school, its students, as well as myself, I truly hope that other participants of the Global MBA, Hospitality Management, as well as students of the MSc in Hospitality Management, will decide to embark on a similar experience in the near future. In the current business landscape, it is essential to embody the values of CSR and sustainability within an organization’s corporate identity. Contributing to a project such as the FAB school is an excellent way to show that the ESSEC network, as a community, fosters these values. #ESSECGMBAExperience

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