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Dubai, UAE, 29 April 2015 – Today, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre welcomed former NASA astronaut Dr. Donald Thomas (Ph.D), as a special guest for its Succeed Through Service program, designed to help children in the local community to imagine futures not previously envisioned, aid career exploration, and learn valuable life skills. The program is part of the luxury hotel company’s global youth engagement program, and its Community Footprints social responsibility commitment.

Year 10 students from the ‘environment group’ at Cambridge International School (CIS), Garhoud, a long-term partner of the luxury hotel’s Succeed Through Service program, attended the two-hour session with Dr. Thomas and were treated to tales of his time as an International Space Station Program Scientist, overseeing NASA experiments, and spending a total of 43 days, eight hours and 13 minutes across four missions in space, setting a new flight duration record for the Space Shuttle Program.

“As the name suggests, Succeed Through Service is all about helping young people to thrive, and inspiring them do their best”, says Lothar Quarz, General Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC. “And who better to inspire children and open their minds than a NASA astronaut? We hope the students left the session feeling excited about the future, with a special memory that they will treasure forever”.

Craig Lamshed, Principal of Cambridge International School, Dubai adds: “At CIS, like all GEMS Education Schools, we aim to offer a stimulating environment for the children to learn, as well as engaging them with the first steps of career exploration and igniting their imaginations. The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC’s Succeed Through Service program perfectly complements this focus, and the unique opportunity to meet a real life NASA astronaut really is a dream come true for many of our students”.

The children learnt about the training required to become a NASA astronaut, and gained valuable insight into what it takes to live and work on an international space station. Dr. Thomas and the hotel’s Executive, Chef Ron Pietruszka, also introduced the concept of HACCP (the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system) that originated in 1996 in space as a way of ensuring food safety in orbit, and remains today the benchmark for food safety in hotels around the world.