Lakers visit Cannes Film Festival

Students gain real-world experience in France

By Maddie Forshee | 5/31/15 11:26pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Lorie Tuma GVSU students attend the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.

For many students, more learning happens outside the classroom than in it. For 14 Grand Valley State University students, that valuable real-world experience came to be at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France is known as an elegant, prestigious festival, taking over media attention due to its guest list and exclusive premieres. The destination was perfect for professor Lorie Tuma, who led the trip.

Tuma developed this trip about six years ago while she was at Central Michigan University. The program traveled with her as she came to GVSU.

This is the first year that this trip has happened with GVSU students. Tuma has previously held the trip with students from CMU and the University of Alabama.

“I’ve refined the trip over the last few years,” Tuma said. “This year, I feel like (the program) finally came full circle. It’s really evolved into an authentic, true learning experience.”

The trip was part of an international event management class. The students were fully immersed in the festival, which gave them a lot of responsibility and a lot of experience to help them learn about event management.

Before departure, classes were held at GVSU to teach them what they needed to know about event management beforehand and prepare the students for the culture and the work they would be doing.

Once in France, the students were given the opportunity to work hands-on at the festival in a variety of different areas. While day-to-day work varied, it included running press panels, helping to host parties and working with Kering, a French luxury goods brand that was present at the festival. The students also worked directly with festival attendees to make sure that everything was going smoothly.

“It was very intimidating but I love that,” said Kate Berg, one of the students on the trip. “I need to be running around and doing something every second.”

For Berg, she said she got involved in the trip to gain the real-life experience in international event management that internships and jobs just couldn’t provide. Since it’s the field she wants to work in as a career, the trip was the opportunity for her to do that.

“The festival didn’t feel like work, even though we had jobs to do every day,” Berg said. “I think that was the best thing I got out of it, that this is something that I want to do, and that I’m going to love it.”

Between running award shows and yacht parties, the students were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor by sitting in on celebrity panel discussions, attending beachside movie screenings, and a day trip to Monaco. Aside from all the fun, the students impressed Tuma with their professionalism.

“There was not one moment during this experience that I hesitated to charge any students with a lot of responsibility,” she said. “They served as amazing ambassadors for GVSU.”

Both Tuma and Berg said that the trip was a success, coming away with a well-rounded experience as professor, guiding the student through a journey, and a student, constantly learning and growing as a young professional.

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