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Jordanian, US students compete together to pitch sustainability solutions

By JT - Mar 14,2019 - Last updated at Mar 14,2019

In this undated photo, Jordanian and American students prepare their presentations in Washington, DC (Photo courtesy of Global Solutions)

AMMAN — Students and faculty from community colleges and universities in the US and Jordan recently took part in a competition in Washington, DC to create innovative business solutions for sustainable hospitality and tourism.

The event brought together 40 competitors with a team comprised of students from Kirkwood Community College, in Iowa, and Luminus Technical University in Amman winning the competition with their sustainable water solution idea; a pipe system that would reduce water waste in the hospitality industry, according to a statement sent to The Jordan Times.

“It’s so exciting. We set out with this goal, and at each session, we talked about the steps we would take to get to this point,” said Cassandra Pantel, a Kirkwood Community College student studying hotel management and director of the winning team. “We did it. We got everything that we wanted done, and I’m so grateful for the hard work the team put in.”

The pitch competition was the culminating event of the Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge — a virtual exchange implemented by The International Research & Exchanges Board. It pairs community college and university students in the US and Jordan on collaborative teams.

“When we first got to work with each other, it was really hard to communicate, especially with the different languages and different cultures. But with time, it was more than just work or the programme. We really became real friends, so when we got to meet, it was a really thrilling and interesting experience,” said Burhan Salahaldeen Istetieh, director of the second-place team and student from Khawarizmi University Technical College in Jordan.

Over the course of 10 weeks, more than 315 post-secondary students on 15 bi-national teams embarked on a collaborative virtual exchange. Three bi-national finalist teams were selected by a committee after presenting their concepts in a virtual fair, the statement said.

The finalist teams travelled to Washington, DC, this past weekend to present their prototypes and concepts in front of a panel of judges.

“The amount of information that was presented to us, the energy and the enthusiasm, it was a little overwhelming — in a good way,” said judge Sonia Zamborsky, director of global field support and communications for Marriott Digital. “To see it all play out, I’m really impressed with the calibre of these students, and I hope this is the beginning of many more types of these collaborations.”

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