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What’s It Like Teaching Nails in Jordan?

Janet McCormick helps open the first nail school in the Middle Eastern country — which provides students training for successful salon careers.

<p>With classes in vocations like secretarial work and hotel management, the director of the Princess Taghrid Institute saw a chance to add nail technology. Here&rsquo;s the first class of nail students (shown with the cosmetology instructor (standing, fifth from left) and U.S. nail tech Janet McCormick (standing, fifth from right)).</p>

Salons and spas everywhere, but not a nail tech to hire. That was the dilemma in the country of Jordan before Frostproof, Fla.-based nail instructor Janet McCormick set foot on the Middle East nation’s soil to help develop the country’s first nail school.

At the invitation of the Princess Taghrid Institute (a vocational school offering courses in  computer skills, home accessory making, cosmetology, and more), McCormick boarded the flight to Amman. “I became convinced I would be making an impact there, not only in the Institute, but in the beauty industry throughout the country,” McCormick says. “The nail techs are not native because there are no schools there nor are there manicure trainers. The techs are hired through the Jordanian consulate in the Philippines and brought in by the salons and spas for two-year contracts; they return to the Philippines and then the salons/spas must hire and bring in others. All the expenses are on the salon, such as the Visa, transportation into Jordan and back home, and housing, so it’s expensive. But they have to have them!”
<p>The first class of 14 students are adult orphans from a custodial castle that King Hussein donated for the care of abandoned children. The castle feeds, clothes, and teaches them, and the Princess Taghrid Institute trains them in skills to support them to succeed.</p>

McCormick’s first four-week class consisted of 14 students (12 women and two men) varying in age from 16 to 24. The pupils were especially in need of a sustainable career as they are all orphans (who are being cared for by the government). McCormick taught from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week via an interpreter. “First, they thought I was there to teach them how to polish, and that it would be such fun! The complexity was a shock to them, but soon they became good students and saw their potential for future income from it,” McCormick says.

With no textbook available in Arabic, McCormick relied on PowerPoint presentations to train in such topics as anatomy. She’s also thankful the equipment, lotions, polishes, and implements were donated by Nailite, so the students were well-equipped.

The need for sanitation and disinfection in nail care was a surprise for the students, McCormick says. She resorted to showing “nasty pictures” of infections to explain why salon cleanliness practices are crucial. Teaching through an interpreter also proved challenging, but McCormick adapted. “The students were generally accepting and patient, but sometimes giggled when I became frustrated. After a while, though, you just go with the flow and realize that it will get done — just possibly not as quickly.”

<p>A student practices her nail lesson. Living in a country with no official beauty professional licensing, salons and spa owners have devised a test that evaluates the competency of graduates.</p>

Ten of the 14 students passed the course, with the others having the option to be coached toward passing. “The goal was to train them in a skill that will support them in the real world, and this skill will. Most would go to work in salons/spas, but it would not be unfeasible for them to find an investor to open a salon or spa, especially the men. These students will all be cosmetologists and nail technicians, but future students may only attend the nail section of the school, if they wish to specialize. They already have outside people (cosmetologists) asking to take the program,” McCormick says.

McCormick is now in the States and hard at work at the MediNail Learning Center, where she is the vice president of education. While she will likely be making future trips to Jordan, it’s up to the Institute to keep the nail course afloat. “The cosmetology teacher at the school is highly motivated, very intelligent, and picked it up quickly. I feel she can take over to keep it going,” McCormick says.

<p>Students and teachers alike thank Nailite for its generous product donation.</p>

The experience for McCormick was overwhelmingly positive. She says, “It really makes me feel like I have helped someone succeed in life. There are many beauty industry people who give back, and they know the feeling one gets when helping improve lives (the old saying about giving a fish or teaching someone to fish fits here). There is nothing like it! I have students in other countries who own their own salons/spas now. I tear up sometimes when they call me and tell me what is going on in their lives because of the skills they learned from me. So, is it worth it? Oh yes. Very worth it!”

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