Pam Adkins

Pam AdkinsOccupation:
Principal, Shaw College
Time in Japan:
6 years

At Shaw College we teach beauty therapy, right from the very basics to more complex. The treatments a student will learn include everything from manicure and pedicure to waxing, body massage, and how to give facials and reflexology. We aim to qualify the students to find a job working at a salon at the end of the course.

I love teaching and I love teaching new subjects. Every year I go on courses-usually in England-to learn new techniques or update my knowledge. This keeps lectures lively because if your are not interested in your subject then you ar not going to be interesting to the students.

I lecture in English but through a Japanese interpreter, we cover a lot of anatomy: muscles, bones, the digestive system and diseases so this can be difficult because it is not everyday English. We emphasis treating the body from within. I mean, if you are eating at McDonalds and getting two hours sleep a night but coming in for a facial once a week, it isn' going to do it! In April we are Extending the course from six months to a year so the students will be able to work toward an international diploma and license so they can work abroad.
In the extended course we will be incorporatin new subjects. I am really interested in combining alternative therapies such as aromatherapy which is popular globally and particularly in Japan. After the students have mastered the theoretical they have practical sessions. They try out the new techniques on each other and quinea-pig clients. Clientcare is a major part of the job. For example, one student announced to a terrified woman that she was going to pour melted candles over her body when in fact she was merely preparing for a moisturizing paraffin wax treatment.

One session, we invited the dancers from J-Mens to come along for facials. The students didn't know what had happened to them and didn't get over it really. Of course when these gorgeous men were filling up the couches, I made sure I had to go over and correct each student!

There isn't one treatment that everyone dislikes, you tend to have your preferences but I know some of the students find pedicure difficult to grasp because it has so many different stages. And removing dead skin from a client's feet is not particularly gorgeous! In the future I would like to be an international examiner of beauty therapy, perhaps traveling around Asia. I already teach seminars in Thailand and Hong Kong and really enjoy the teaching and the traveling.

However, at the moment I love my job and life in Tokyo. But it can be strange lecturing to students about the evils of smoking and drinking when I am suffering from a hangover myself!

Pam spoke with Sian Rees.

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