Sala Baï’s curriculum focuses primarily on learning by doing. Due to the low level of education of our students and the short period of training (one year), 70% of the training given at school is carried out either in the restaurant, the hotel and the beauty spa, or during the two 2-month internships completed at partner establishments. When at school, half of the group is in theory, the other half is in internship. Social workers, working with Sala Baï teachers, are responsible for establishing partnerships with hotels, restaurants and spas in Siem Reap.
Today, Sala Baï works with 23 partners, the vast majority of which are luxury hotels. In October 2019, 5 new partnerships were established with Cuisine Wat Damnak, Frangipani Spa, L’Annex, Olive and Anantara. Throughout the full duration of internships, teachers visit our partner hotels and talk to the General Manager or Human Resources representatives to ensure that internships are running smoothly. They monitor interns’ progress through regular interviews. For these young people from extremely poor backgrounds, completing an internship so early in their training is a huge challenge but also a great opportunity, providing them with a first approach to the professional world in a cultural universe that is vastly different from their own.
Two students from the school tell us about their first experience.
Chakriya LOEM (Front Office) intern at the Victoria Hotel
“At the start of the internship, my tutor asked me what Front Office skills I had. Then he taught me how to make a booking and I was able to train in real conditions. I learned a lot about the procedure for registering clients, recording their booking in the hotel’s computer software, registering their passports. I realised that I wasn’t explaining clearly enough to clients where their rooms were located, so I paid special attention to this point.
Every day was different. My favourite task is bookings. Now I can send confirmation emails in English! I want to learn more. What I particularly like about this training is being in contact with clients, we share a lot of information. Sometimes I gave them advice on places to visit.
For me, the most difficult thing is speaking English. Sometimes I understood what the person is saying but I am unable to reply. It’s sometimes difficult to meet all of the requirements of clients. My colleagues work a lot, they are really smart and they work quickly. I got along very well with them. I want to learn. I watched them and tried to do what they do, that’s also how I learnt. I think I’ve improved since I started this internship. I know that my level of English is not good enough but I’m motivated.”
Channa CHUM (Housekeeping) intern at Sofitel
“I improved a lot during this internship. I learnt how to welcome the client, how to compose floral decorations, how to make a hotel room attractive in line with standards and how to clean the toilets. I also discovered how to answer the phone when a client calls us from their hotel room and I can now register clients. In my opinion, the most difficult thing was speaking English. For me, this is a real problem, sometimes I didn’t understand what the client was saying to me. The whole team was very kind and friendly to me and were always there to help me when needed. So, I learnt a lot, I received lots of advices!”
Channa and Chakriya’s group is currently in school while group B students have begun their internships.