In October 2023, a group of 8 Bulgarian teachers from the Secondary Vocational School of Tourism “Aleksandar Paskalev” participated in a unique training program at Pessoa Academy, the ETN agency in Lisbon, as part of the “STEP TO A BETTER FUTURE” project (PROJECT NUMBER: 2023-1-BG01- KA122-VET-000132283).
This experience offered them the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in the field of hospitality and tourism.
The teachers participated in a series of intensive lessons and seminars: they had the opportunity to take part in a practical and interactive lesson on the techniques and skills required in bar service, attend a session of the Hotel Management and Accommodation course, and also assist in a pastry lesson, learning the techniques and traditional recipes of Portuguese pastry. Moreover, the teachers deepened their English, focusing particularly on the terms and expressions used in nature and adventure tourism, and participated in seminars on sustainability in the tourism sector, exploring strategies to promote responsible and sustainable tourism practices.
The professional visits significantly enriched the teachers’ training experience. The visit to Hotel Laitau in Setúbal offered a vivid exemplification of contemporary tourism practices, while participation in the National Gastronomy Festival in Santarém was a highlight. This festival, founded in 1981 and officially recognized as intangible cultural heritage in 2000, is celebrated for its long history in promoting and preserving Portuguese culinary diversity; this allowed the participants to deeply explore the agricultural and commercial roots of Santarém.
In addition to the training activities, the participants had the opportunity to visit the city of Lisbon and thus immerse themselves in Portuguese culture, exploring local traditions and enjoying local gastronomy. This immersion offered a deeper understanding of the context in which the hospitality and tourism industries operate.
The participants expressed great satisfaction and appreciation for the training program:
“During my training, I was able to experience the culture, education, and spirit and traditions of Portugal. The tutors are really kind and prepared, always available to answer any question. The training program was comprehensive and introduced us to Portuguese gastronomy and tourism”
“I am really satisfied with the organization: the accommodation, the food, the program. I had the opportunity to meet colleagues, exchange experiences and knowledge that will be useful in my work. I was impressed by the traditions and culture of Portugal.”
The training program at Pessoa Academy represented a significant opportunity for professional and cultural growth for the Bulgarian teachers. The skills and knowledge acquired are destined to improve the quality of teaching in their home institutions, demonstrating the importance and effectiveness of such international training experiences in the hospitality and tourism sector.