Day four, Monday 24th August 2015
(Please note that the names of our students have been abbreviated to protect their identity).
Our first day with the students! Us mentors were SO nervous in the salon first thing, you could almost taste the anticipation. At 9am 25 teenagers filed curiously into the room also looking nervous so we were not alone with our feelings. However, there was also something else in the air: an electric and almost overwhelming sense of excitement.
After some general introductions we plunged straight into an ice breaker name game where the children had to place the correct name and country with each of us mentors. They very quickly got everything correct which put immense pressure on us remembering all 25 names correctly too, we didn’t want to have anyone feeling forgotten at this early stage! Luckily, with a bit of teamwork (and a slight strategy) we got there too, perfect start!
By surprise, another game was suggested by the students. We all had to stand in a circle, one person started by saying their name and doing an action to go with it. The second person had to repeat the first persons name and action before they did their own and so on and so forth. So much to remember with 34 people in this circle! Luckily I was one of the first so could remember all of mine but with a lot of help from everyone we got around the full circle in the end. This game cannot be talked about without mentioning Ell’s epic attempt at M’s breakdancing and Tim’s fabulous finger clicking “no way!” contribution which is destined to become a legendary phrase of our trip!
Our official training started with an introduction on how to carry out a consultation with a client. In small groups we helped the students role play a consultation with each other. Then we moved on to a practical session of shampoo training with the students which created a hive of activity in the room. Ell used me as a model to demonstrate the way we shampoo and condition hair at the backwash, and told the students about the importance of this as it it always a favourite part of a clients visit to a salon. One of the students (P) blow dried my hair after I had it washed and I was so genuinely impressed by the perfect finish she achieved I spent the rest of the session going around showing and telling everyone! We all took turns in helping the students shampoo each other’s hair and then blow dry.
After this part of the session it was time for lunch. I have to explain before taking you all to lunch with us that during our ice breaker games there was a student who wouldn’t take part. It seemed a shame but whether this guy was too shy or too cool for school he wouldn’t follow his friends in joining the rest of the group for this initial session. I happened to be at the backwash when this guy (L) came to shampoo his model and he did really well with just a few little pointers from me. At first L wouldn’t look me in the eye but after lots of praise and a pat on the shoulder in congratulations, he looked me in the eyes and smiled. So, back to lunch, us mentors were a little later to lunch than the students as we had a quick gathering to check that the morning went okay for us all. I was even later as I was giving praise to one of our interpreters Lilly, as I was amazed at how she could listen, speak and think two languages all at the same time! (Lilly, for the record I still think you’re a total legend! ❤️). As I walked down the stairs into the dining hall I heard a table on the far corner calling me over by name. L and his friends on the course were sat on the table with our other interpreter (the beautiful Nadia) and had saved me a seat on their table to eat with them. I am someone who was always picked practically last for school sports teams, so needless to say I was so touched I could have spent the rest of the lunchtime in tears that after just a little praise L was touched enough to let down his barriers and share lunch with me.
And wow, what a lunch! These guys (L, M and R) are crazy in the best way and with massive translating assistance from Nadia we all laughed so much! They showed me some videos of breakdancing and promised to teach me on Saturday when a fun outing would be organised. Then one of the lads started playing games with the caterers and managed to get bowl after bowl of tuna pasta and basket after basket of bread it was madness and all very funny. None of the food was wasted though, one lad ate 3 bowls and another 2 bowls. Plus about 5 baskets of bread were polished off quite quickly. These kids know how to make their own fun. I also started to be taught my first Romanian words which were counting from one to five. I promised to make the effort and learn these numbers by heart before they took me up to ten, I had learned over 35 new names in 3 days, pretty good going I thought. You want me to tell you now? Unu, doi, tres, patru, cinci. Thank you 😊
After lunch came my opportunity to demonstrate a haircut to the whole group and was given Wella’s ‘line below the shoulder’ haircut, which at TONI&GUY we call ‘One Length’. Under Jenna’s expert supervision we were making sure that we delivered our demonstrations the Wella way to save confusion to the students. I felt it went well and Lilly worked with me to translate everything into Romanian, although there was a bit of a discussion on how best to translate the technical term ‘horseshoe section’! I was more nervous than I thought though as when I started cutting my hands were shaking so much! Working in front of an international crowd of hairdressers for the first time was nerve racking. Following my demonstration the students had to replicate the cut on dolls heads (blocks). I had great fun working with my four girls and was so impressed with how they wanted to do everything themselves, even when it came to correcting their mistakes I wasn’t allowed to touch the hair! All the students achieved brilliant results, and again it was humbling to see the change in their attitudes and confidence during the day.
The day finished with a group hug, the students headed off after a few more hugs and us mentors all made our way back to the Pension for a quick turnaround and headed out for dinner. Four of us wandered off on foot to another Pension with a restaurant down the road, and I spent my second night being red wine friends with Hanne, sharing a similar sense of humour and laughing together a little too much! Other mentors joined us after a short time and they were followed by the UNICEF team. I enjoyed sharing the experiences of our first day with the rest of the team.
Once we got back to the pension, I’m not afraid to admit I had my first good cry in the room. The change in the confidence of the students is so incredible after just one day. None of us have any idea how lucky we are back at home, and many people approach their daily lives with so much aggression towards each other, yet these kids that have had a much worse start than the majority of us are so warm natured and kind hearted. It puts our ‘modern world’ to shame, we all need to wake up to the possibility that most of us are playing this life game completely wrong.
This is day one with the students and I have witnessed and experienced great change already. All I can say at this stage is whatever talent or skill you have in life, no matter how small and insignificant you think it may be, somebody somewhere would benefit from even a day of your time. Seriously, think about it. Be creative and make the time to give something back. We can thank Pablo Picasso for his quote: “The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away”. This trip is going to be a game changer for me.
#wellalove ❤️ #makingwaves