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International students training at Sky Harbor information counters

Posted at 4:34 AM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 09:27:26-05

Around 30 Japanese students are working the information counters at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport through an international program at Arizona State University. 

"My customers ask me about flight information or luggage problems," said Riku Nishida, who attends J.F. Oberlin University in Japan, which partners with ASU's Global Launch program focused on travel and hospitality. Nishida and fellow student Ririka Fujita both hope to become flight attendants at major airlines. 

"It was really a good opportunity to meet American people," Fujita said. 

Senior Global Educator Claire McLaughlin told ABC15 the students spend two-hours a week paired up with a paid or volunteer Sky Harbor Navigator. They're learning English -- which gives them an edge in the travel industry -- and other, unwritten rules that come with experience. 

"We talk about that, how do you deal with potential hurried or stressful passengers?"

The Sky Harbor-Global Launch partnership began five years ago. 

"The airport environment is so dynamic, there's always something new to learn," said Sky Harbor public information officer Misty Cisneros-Contreras. 

Cisneros-Contreras told us the first thing every Navigator learns is the power of a smile. 

Nishida and Fujita said while solving problems in English has proved challenging, the majority of passengers are patient and thank them for their help.