A Vietnamese nail teacher in the US

Update: 09:11 | 04/11/2019
He is Jimmy Luong - the Vietnamese-origin headmaster of a vocational school that is currently training and producing thousands of nail technicians, hairdressers, facial skin and make-up specialists every year in Oakland and San Francisco, California (the US).
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Jimmy Luong and his trainees. (Photo courtesy of Luong)

Jimmy Luong recalled his first days in the US when he was often lost and scared to tears as being surrounded by strangers. At present, Vietnamese people can visit any nail salon in the US where they can talk with a countryman.

From the passion for cosmetology

Coming to the US to reunite with his family since the 1980s, Jimmy Luong initially studied another field but later turned to learn cosmetology. Since 1992, he was more interested in this job and taught it for Vietnamese people who were looking for a livelihood.

Not only Jimmy Luong but many other Vietnamese immigrants saw the good opportunity of cosmetology which was a high-demand profession without the need for foreign language like other jobs in the country. Each person even just needed to take a short 10-week course to become a nail technician or hairdresser.

In fact, cosmetology has become more popular in the Vietnamese community in the US. Specifically, in California, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, there are many nail salons, hairdressing, facial skincare and make-up shops of which the employees are mostly Vietnamese. When talking about the job, Luong said that he was fortunate to choose a favorite job that has the potential to grow and expand.

"Perhaps, there was no other industry in the US that needed such a simple investment to be able to practice. In particular, since 1994, we persuaded the state of California to carry out the Vietnamese language cosmetology examination in parallel with the English one, which created favorable conditions for new Vietnamese immigrants to find jobs", said Luong.

The owner of 20-year-old college

Understanding the community's need for jobs and owning the teaching experience over 8 years, Jimmy Luong determined to open the International College of Cosmetology (ICOC) in July 1999 in Oakland. In 2006, he established another ICOC campus in San Francisco where he is living in.

At the ICOC, headmaster Jimmy Luong designed and provided students with the most basic training courses helping them gain the necessary knowledge and skills to pass the cosmetology examination and receive license of the California state.

The main objectives of the ICOC is to train highly-qualified graduates who at least can find jobs at the minimum level in the cosmetology industry. For excellent and progressive individuals, they can absolutely become managers, shop owners, cosmetology teachers, supervisors, or even a vocational school owners in the future.

At present, the college of the Vietnamese-origin headmaster has hundreds of trainees studying and graduating every year, most of whom are Vietnamese. At this college, the medium of instruction is mainly Vietnamese. However, in practice modules, trainees are also taught some basic English conversational sentences, behaviours, chemical usage and hygience to best serve customers.

After 20 years, generations of students of Jimmy Luong have been practicing everywhere in the US. Following his path, they sought all ways to make a living, from being employees, profession teacher and shop owners.

Somewhere in the press, there is still news about the hard work of nail technicians, hairdressers,... but it can not be denied that this job has been bringing many benefits and good income for Vietnamese immigrants.

Many Vietnamese people with their diligence and ingenuity have been building their stable life here. Some even bought houses, cars and fund their children's study.

Luong said, about 60% of Vietnamese people in California are doing cosmetology, especially nail. Being asked about the risk of market's saturation, he believes that cosmetology is still a land of opportunity for Vietnamese immigrants in the US.

According to him, each job has its own difficulties and any success requires meticulousness, diligence and hark work.

"The Americans always highly evaluate cosmetology of Vietnamese people who have soft hands, enthusiasm and reasonable prices. Vietnamese people are very persistent and good at making a living. I am very proud of being a Vietnamese", Luong said.

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