Perseverance pays off as dreams of gold come true
Compared with those who like to hang the word “dream” over their mouths, Nie Feng from Southwest China’s Chongqing, prefers action to talking.
In 2009, during the summer vacation when she was waiting to begin her senior middle school studies, Nie watched a hairdressing show on television and dreamed that she could do the same.
Rather than being content to idly dream of doing it sometime in the future, the 16-year-old girl acted to make it real by visiting the hairdresser on the show, He Xianze, who is a teacher at Chongqing 51 Vocational School.
After the visit, Nie decided to drop her senior middle school studies to pursue vocational training instead.
“My studies were not outstanding compared with other students. So I thought why not try to be the outstanding in a field I was interested in,” Nie said.
In 2015, Nie’s dream came true, when she became one of China’s five gold medal winners at the 43rd World Skills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That was the first time Chinese competitors won gold medals at the World-Skills Competition.
“I participated in the competition three times. In 2011, I was not ready in terms of skill. In 2013, I was very close to winning, but the pressure from other competitors and my own desire to win took that away,” she said. “That was very frustrating, and I was depressed for a long time.”
But she persevered. In October 2014, she devoted herself, for the third time, to training intensively for the competition. Every day, from 7 am to 11 pm, Nie practiced at school or competed in contests with other competitors at home and abroad to improve her skills. Her efforts finally paid off.
“During the event, the judge brings you a black-and-white photo with the front image of a model and asks you to do the same haircut within a set time limit. You don’t know the hair color, or what the back looks like,” said Nie. “This is a challenge of your hairdressing skills, your understanding of hair design, as well as your imagination.” She is very proud of her success. “Many may consider hairdressing as a low-entry level profession, with no technical content. I don’t blame them. In the past, haircuts didn’t need too much skill. Many could start their own business after training for a couple of months,” said Nie. “But after I started studying at the vocational school, I realized there is much to learn. It needs you to have a quick hand as well as a good understanding of art and fashion. We are stylists in a way.”
Nie said many parents living in urban areas are now letting their children become hairdressers.
“In their eyes, my job is as good as, or even better than, an office whitecollar job.”
Nie Feng, a gold medal winner at the 43rdWorldSkills Competition