2nd Annual North American Young Skål Symposium. Las Vegas, August 2015
By Llana Smith, SIUSA International Skål Councillor
September 22, 2015
The 2nd Annual North American Young Skål Symposium was held recently at the Embassy Suites Convention Center, August 28-29, 2015 in Las Vegas during the SIUSA National Committee Meeting. Nine excited and enthusiastic Young Skålleague from across North America were in attendance at the Symposium.
As SIUSA ISC for the past two years, part of my duties was to study the Young Skål Program worldwide. After lengthy exchanges of information, the ISC determined that one programme for Young Skål internationally was just not feasible. There are too many differences culturally, logistically and, quite frankly, in understanding the need of a YS programme in certain areas of Skål. Therefore, it was suggested that the implementation of a YS programme be handled by the local Club and National or Area Committees as they know their demographics much better than a “one size fits all” type of international programme.
Thus, the experiment began with a North American Young Skål Symposium. The results have been outstanding.
This year’s event in Las Vegas included opportunities for the nine attendees to network and build relationships with Skålleague from around North America and Mexico. They were afforded the opportunity to voice their suggestions for the 3rd Annual North America Young Skål Symposium to be held in North Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, in September 2016.
Four members of the newly formed Young Skål Long Island Club presented a fundraising presentation during the SIUSA Board Meeting that was well received. The YSLI Club raised over $1600 for their registration and transportation by holding a FlapJack Challenge in conjunction with Appleby’s Restaurant. It was presented that this could become a YS Fundraiser for all of North America. The Young Skål Club in Long Island, under the direction of Skålleague, Jennifer Ackerson, has grown to a membership of 36 with their own Board of Directors and monthly programmes developed just for them. And all of this in an astonishing 9 month period. Congratulations, Young Skål Club of Long Island!
The highlight of this year’s Symposium was a full morning tour of the “back of the house” at the well-known MGM Grand. Organized by SI Las Vegas Skålleague, Vivienne Sario, an instructor at College of Southern Nevada School of Hospitality, the YS attendees (after their official photo in front of the iconic Las Vegas sign!) met with Victoria Cruz, Supervisor of MGM Concierges for a five hour tour. The YS could not decide on one special moment as they were all so informative and some even breath taking. The tour included The Grand Arena, backstage dressing rooms where everyone from Elton John to Paul McCartney have waited for their show to go on. Also, included were a tour of the Grand Suites, Skylofts, the lobby, retail shoppes and the restaurants. The back stage tour of Ka’ by Cirque de Soleil, was just overwhelming. Our tour concluded with lunch in the MGM Employee Dining Room, compliments of the head chef at the MGM Grand.
Concierge Veronica was very informative not only within the tour, but also giving examples of her career climbing up the ladder at MGM Grand. She started at the front desk ten years ago and announced for the first time, while we were touring the Skylofts, that she had just been promoted to Head Skyloft Concierge, a position that deals with the most expensive accommodations in the hotel. Here’s to Veronica, who incidentally took her day off to come in and lead this tour! We thank you for an incredible morning.
With interactions like we have had the last two YSNA Symposiums, I think it has been confirmed that when Skål wants or needs to impress Young Skålleagues, the face to face time is the best. We look forward to a successful 3rd Annual North American Young Skål Symposium next year in North Little Rock with more emphasis on time together and more programs for YS to participate in. Enjoy the photos!
Six Young Skålleagues from SI Long Island welcomed to the MGM Grand. SI Long Island has a YS Club with 36 members and their own Board of Directors. Congratulations, SI Long Island YS!
SIUSA is so proud of our nine new graduates of the 2nd North America Young Skål Symposium: Audrius Valilius, SI Toronto; Stephanie Slagle, SI Arkansas; Cynthia Prisco, Sara Timsah, Caitlin Corbett, Ali Pick, Tina Fero and Nicholle Fearon, all SI Long Island; and Troy Lambert-Zaffino, SI Atlanta.