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Phoenix Sky Harbor navigators to mentor ASU students from Japan

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PHOENIX — Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, called “America’s Friendliest Airport,” is known for showing hospitality to air travelers. Now it is taking 30 international Arizona State University interns under its wing.

Students from Japan who are part of ASU’s Global Launch program will be paired with Sky Harbor navigators to practice their English-language hospitality skills and tourism knowledge. Navigators are volunteer Sky Harbor experts placed throughout the airport to guide travelers and answer questions.

“This is a great opportunity for us to partner with our neighbors from Arizona State University,” Misty Cisneros Contreras, customer service manager at Sky Harbor said. “…(The students) assist our customers, everything from presenting them with a friendly smile, and helping direct them to their gate, or connect them with lost and found property.”

This is the sixth consecutive year of the program, which was created in partnership between ASU and the J.F. Oberlin Airline Hospitality Program in Tokyo. The fall semester program lasts until the end of November.

“This internship with the Navigator Program at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is a vital component of the students’ program at Global Launch,” Claire McLaughlin, senior global educator and Global Launch program coordinator, said in a statement. “They not only gain valuable experience, but also a boost in their self-confidence which will help them in the job market.”

McLaughlin said the most important part of the program is the “cross-cultural experience” between students and navigators, and participants often form strong friendships.

Along with the internship program, Global Launch students take 21 hours of English classes each week and practice role-play scenarios to prepare for assisting travelers. The program allows students to take lessons from class and apply them to the hands-on training.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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