I know!!! I said I would blog at LEAST once a week 😔 Sorry bout' it guys! I've been pretty busy! Let me get you up to speed:
Since the last post, I've been teaching a bunch of updo classes, (practice, practice, practice), creating a social media marketing class, trekking through ancient temples, and lazing around on a magnificently beautiful (and somewhat remote) island. I know, pretty rough right?! 😅
Let me paint you a little picture of what my time here has been looking like lately...
The students- You guys... let me tell you about some quick learners! From week one, I've continued to be blown away by their natural ability to learn and soak in soooo much information so quickly. They're goofy, silly, and every once in a while I am reminded that they are just teenagers for the most part, and it blows me away, the dedication that they have to this program. When I came here wanting to help these young people, some of whom have survived horrors that most of us can't imagine, I didn't really know what to expect. I knew it would change my life, and it has absolutely has. I don't know their individual past stories, and I don't need or want to, because the people in this program that I've come to know, are not those people. They're no longer victims of their circumstances, they're survivivors who are thriving and their spirits are beautiful. It's quite inspiring.
The education team- The curriculum for the education program was painstakingly handwritten by the full time education team here. It's relatively new, and not 100% complete, but holy smokes you guys, I wish I had received this education early in my career. It's so well thought out and highly advanced in so many ways, I can tell the amount of work that went into creating it... it was a lot; and let's not forget-these are young students that we're teaching, many of whom are still learning to speak English. I. AM. IMPRESSED. I feel super fortunate to have had this opportunity to learn from them, and observe their teaching methods.
A typical day at the salon- I'm, of course, spending the majority of my time here at the salon. Here's what a normal day looks like here:
9:00 am- We start the day with morning huddle. DO NOT BE LATE, they will gleefully make you sing whether you have a terrible singing voice or not. (Yep, I had to sing once, I'm sure you're all very surprised...) In huddle, everyone takes a moment to share their daily gratitudes. This is super light hearted but sometimes gives little peeks into each of our lives, and highlights that there is actually a contrast when it comes to what is typical for us. It can be a little surprising at times. Things like, the flood waters in their home that morning that almost reached the electrical outlets, and being grateful that it didn't, or being grateful for showering in warm water during a work trip. It's so easy for us to take those things for granted.
The salon opens at 10:00 am, and depending on the day, it's either demo class on mannequins, working on models, or taking clients. This week, I had the opportunity to create a social media class to share with the students. It was really cool to be able to give them tools and tips to use to promote themselves once they've graduated this incredible program.
When the students aren't in a class or with a model, they're assisting the stylists with clients, or playing practical jokes on the new guest artist 😂
At the end of the day, the students prepare the salon for the next day, and the salon closes at 6.
I'm staying very close to the salon, so I am fortunate to be able to walk to and from work each day, which has been an experience in itself. It was overwhelming at first. I am an oddity here. I'm American, blonde, and have lots of visible tattoos, which is not super common here. There's a lot of staring, which can certainly be a lot to take in initially, when I know nothing of the language and am still trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Now that I have a grasp of a few basic Khmer greetings and phrases, and I know my way around a little better, the staring doesn't bother me, and I know how to politely turn down the 10-15 tuk tuk rides I'm offered on each of my daily walks (tuk tuk's are like taxies here, but more convenient. If you've never seen one, it's a motorbike with a passenger cart attached to it 👍🏻)
The salon was closed for three days to celebrate Pchum Ben so I had the opportunity for a little vacation. ✈️🚗🚌🛥
Siem Reap- WAS INCREDIBLE. It was a really fast trip 💨. We took the overnight bus which left Phnom Penh around 10:30 PM and arrived in Siem Reap around 5 AM, have you guys ever taken an overnight bus?! It was.... different, but all in all, a really convenient way to travel. First stop was Angkor Wat (it's only one of the Seven Wonders of The World NBD) I can see why it's such a big deal, these temples are truly something to behold. It was a really long day of touring these incredible ancient structures with great company, it did end with a little run in with some yucky dehydration sickeness (an entire day with very little bathroom access meant that I definitely didn't drink enough water to stay hydrated in the heat 😵) but I was fine by the next morning, and my hotel had a pretty great pool 😎
Kah Rong Sanloem- WARNING- this next paragraph may cause extreme jealously... try not to hate me too much. The island is picture perfect 👌🏻 🏝⛱👙. To get there, I took a plane, a car, a boat, and then a smaller boat, and once I arrived I was greeted with a cold glass of juice and some more great company. We spent our time on the island being mostly extremely lazy, with a little hike through the jungle each evening to watch the sunset on the other side of the island. It was amaaaazing.
This week is my last week working in the salon, and it's a busy one! Styling classes every day and models for the students. It's hard to believe my time here is almost ending, but I certainly feel ready to get back to my team and my clients ❤️