Beauty and brains: UNRWA cosmetology students trained in Sweden

09 July 2012

9 July 2012
Amman, Jordan

Twelve young refugee women returned to Jordan with renewed enthusiasm for their career path after spending two weeks on a vocational training exchange at a beauty school in Sweden.

The Palestinian students, who study cosmetology together at the UNRWA Training Centre in Amman, got their first hands-on training with nails, hair extensions, and wig treatment. Although they had studied these topics in class, they never had the opportunity to practise this knowledge because their training centre lacked the necessary equipment.

Mrs. Waseleh, their cosmetology teacher in Jordan, accompanied them on their trip. “They were introduced to a different professional culture – they were introduced to different work techniques and used cosmetology materials that aren’t available in Jordan”, she said.

Exchanging knowledge and building confidence

The initiative is part of UNRWA’s efforts to provide more opportunities to Palestine refugee youth to access training opportunities, the latest technologies, and intercultural exchanges to broaden their experience.

“This is the third visit to Sweden our students have made in the last five years”, Mrs. Waseleh explained. “We are expecting the Swedish cosmetology students to visit us in the spring of 2013.”

Eighteen-year-old Farah Nabil said the experience was eye-opening. “I used to think that foreign girls were smarter than us”, she recalled. “But with the Swedish girls, we worked together, laughed together, and visited places together. I now see that we are equally skilled and can achieve the same things.”

More than beauty school

In addition to cosmetology skills, the training included valuable lessons on workplace etiquette, communication skills, time management, and how to start a small business.

The exchange also gave the young women an opportunity to adjust to a different culture. On their first day, they learned that buses leave the station promptly according to their schedule. Upon learning their lesson, they rushed to the station every morning afterwards.

“Everything is in order in Sweden”, said 18-year-old Asma Hasan. “I had never travelled before, and I will have the memories of this visit forever. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit a different country and acquire skills that will help me start my own business after graduation.”

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