Humans of AEE – Sebastian Interview
New words are now used in our vocabulary. Words like “hybrid learning”, “pandemic” or “new reality”.
For us, these words had to be learnt by heart and used as if new terminology was introduced in a language. In the last weeks, we were all involved in a process of recognizing (and accepting) the “new reality” and the new words.
But life goes on and the people we work with are still here, still strong, are real characters that fight for their goals and their beliefs. These are people that are part of the American European Education community.
This means ALL stakeholders: students, candidates, parents, alumni, staff and partners.
Because everything is related to the top, we begin this series of personal stories by speaking with the brain of these academies, the person that is always behind the curtain, but, somehow, always aware of our every step when we all enter the stage.
He is always documenting, researching, fond of the foreign press, he is an honest and a hardworking individual who wins and loses together with his team. He is so involved in his business, that this business has taken its tribute: a good part of his time.
Sebastian Georgescu, the CEO of American European Education (which operates American Hotel Academy, TASTE Culinary Business Academy, Digital Hub Academy and Manhattan Studies Institute) speaks truly, from his heart, about the determination to resist, when everybody else has doubts about continuing.
No strangers to adversity
We’ve opened our 1st school – American Hotel Academy (AHA) – late 2007, just before the great recession submerged most of the global economy in 2008. So we are no strangers to adversity. We’ve had a vision for AHA which has guided us though the murky waters of the recession and which became a reality about six years later.
Same plan applies today. We have a vision of creating a learning organization that will transcend traditional higher education as we know it today, a vision which is going to be carried out, no matter the circumstances. The pandemic or the recession may slow us down, but they cannot stop us from reaching our goals.
Back in 2007 we had a great deal of support from students and parents who shared our vision about AHA. They gave us the extra energy that truly made the difference between failure and success. Today, we are hoping for the same. Together we are strong!
Reality is what we create everyday with our thoughts and actions.
This “new reality” that everyone is talking about is just temporary. This pandemic is not going to last forever and soon, a “newer reality” is going to take its place.
Consequently, our schools are currently being adapted to the safe delivery of education for as long as it needs, but long term we strive to be part of those who shape their own future the way they decide it should be, and not simply adapt to circumstances “beyond our control”. Reality is what we create everyday with our thoughts and actions.
Hybrid: blending online learning with human interaction
For the 20/21 Academic Year we’ve opted for a hybrid model which blends online learning with human interaction in a classroom or lab environment. This will bring students back to school, which is paramount for their professional and personal development.
We’ve had a plan of introducing more technology in our educational process even before this pandemic. That plan was to complement person to person delivery with features of modern day technology in an attempt to maximize the learning outcomes for our students.
But given the current circumstances we had to alter that plan in order to comply with all safety and sanitary measures required by the local authorities.
For sure though, the future of education delivery within all American European Education schools will be a form of hybrid learning which will feature the best out of in class and online delivery methods.
We can only get through this together.
We should be ready to go with the hybrid learning by the end of September. Our Academic Department has been working on this transfer for the last couple of months and things look like they are on their way.
For a proper implementation though, we are asking all stakeholders (students, parents, collaborative faculty, academic partners and suppliers) to make an effort to understand the new operations philosophy and to comply with the new rules. We can only get through this together.
Changes? Yes, bring it on!
I would say the pandemic wave has impacted more our daily operations, as we had to abruptly change the way we deliver our study programs and additional services, rather than our long terms goals. These remain unchanged. Our pursuit for U.S. accreditation and for a deeper involvement within our industries of interest continues as planned.
A new strategic project is born. We are on our way to achieving it.
Manhattan Studies Institute is currently our most ambitious strategic project and our foot hold in the United States. It’s been created to reach two main goals: achieve U.S. accreditation for all our schools and campuses and deliver a life transforming experience in New York City for international students.
It’s going to take a few years to mark this as a successful venture, but we are on our way.
Another new project: Digital Hub Academy
Launching a new product in times of economic turbulence is no easy task. It’s like giving birth in the middle of a war zone. But we strongly believe in the mission and purpose of this academy, so it shall endure and overcome these hard times only to become stronger and to thrive in the future.
We have strong ties with the academies’ industries both in Europe and in the U.S. As soon as the pandemic will ease its grip and international travel will resume, our students should be able to once again experience working, traveling and having fun abroad.
In the meantime, we decided to be pro-active and try to create work experience opportunities by ourselves which should involve most of our students. We are very excited about this prospect, details will be available for students early October.
On the other hand, we don’t foresee any issues with regards to identifying internships for Digital Hub Academy students as one of the fields that thrives now in pandemic times is Digital Marketing.
Our vision and our goals remain unchanged
In the future, our academies (rn: American Hotel Academy, Taste Culinary Business Academy, Digital Hub Academy, Manhattan Studies Institute) will be…exactly where I’ve seen them even before the pandemic. It will be as our new vision statement reads:
“Our vision is to become the ultimate learning organization. Students, faculty and professionals all working together in a continuum and synergistic environment, which generates interaction between all professional levels and ages and stimulates / fosters innovation and creative thinking.
Students have easy access to real life industry and corporate has easy access to new talent and knowledge (training, development, research).
All in a culture of continuous learning, experiencing, creating, and growing.”
This is our long-term vision and we are committed to achieve it no matter what.