Chiieng Mey, a housekeeping student and Morn, a restaurant student, are both looking back on their experience in Sala Baï. From the start of school in September 2013 to their graduation at the end of July 2014, a whole new world opened up to them.
At the dawn of their new life, these two students relate how they lived this past training year. (To find out more about the Sala Baï Hotel School in Siem Reap, Cambodia, see our eHotelier Insights article: Hospitality training in developing countries: the Sala Baï solution.)
“The hardest part, for me, on my first day at school last September, was to leave my family and to live away from them. But I was comforted very quickly because I found the whole Sala Baï team very welcoming and it made me feel comfortable.
Now of course, I have learnt all the basis of the housekeeping profession, whether from a practical or from a theoretical point of view. I can feel that I possess a wealth of knowledge that will enable me to find a well-paid job, and also a little experience of the world of work, thanks to my two internships in the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa and in the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Gold and Spa Resort. For me, these really were my very first steps into working life. Having colleagues, respecting working hours, internal processes… I was very happy to discover all of this and to feel that I was part of a team thanks to the kindness of the employees.
Not only did Sala Baï teach me a profession, but it also brought me very good friends: and this is very important.
I am extremely happy to think that I will soon be working for real, and earning a salary. I hope I will be taken on in the room attendance service, because it is the part of the work that I like the most.
But it doesn’t mean that I will forget Sala Baï! I am already looking forward to seeing everyone again at the Alumni dinner, and I want to be part of the Sala Baï Family by helping to sponsor other future students, if I can afford it with my salary.”
“I remember very well my first day at school. I was parted between the joy of entering Sala Baï and ant the fear of not knowing anyone. I come from a village that does not have many inhabitants, so the 100 students and 26 members of the staff were a lot of new people! But I made a lot of friends very quickly.
I did learn a lot! Both professionally and personally. I think I am not really the same now that I was one year ago. I got used to city life, I became mature, and I can feel that I am more self-confident.
When I arrived in Sala Baï, I didn’t even know what a restaurant was! Now, it is a business that I know, and a profession that I really love: the sense of service, the care for details…
I remember my first internship in Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. It was only two months after the start of school, it was not easy for me, I had never really worked before and I had the impression that I could not do anything. During the first days, all I did was cleaning the glasses, but little by little I have been able to train for other positions also. After this first experience, my second internship seemed a lot easier! I knew what was expected from me, so I found my place more quickly. I would like to be a barman if it is possible – I like the inventiveness of this job through the creation of new cocktails. Anyway, I am looking forward to start my working life. My ambition, thanks to my salary, is to go back to school, graduate, and maybe continue in the university afterwards.
Sala Baï really made me grow up! From rudimentary fishing in the Baray to serving in 5 stars hotels restaurants – I will never forget this and I really want to be able to help other young people to live what I have been lucky to live during one year.”