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Late night learning for new skills

In Wuhan, night schools provide varied classes, encouraging relaxation, friendship, and a love for learning outside of work.

By LIU KUN in Wuhan and LI XINRAN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-17 05:46
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Yuli (left) demonstrates makeup techniques to her students. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Yuli (pseudonym), 35, instructs the makeup class and brings 11 years of industry experience to her role.

She pointed out that makeup isn't just for celebrities on stage but is important for everyday individuals as well. Her student, Cheng Huan, a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher, agrees.

"I can pick up quite a bit about makeup from lifestyle platforms like Xiaohongshu, but there's no one there to tell me where I might have gone wrong with my eyeliner," said Cheng Huan, emphasizing her desire to learn more about skincare techniques targeting specific problems.

All the students who attend night school have day jobs before these "extra hours", and the same goes for the instructors. Zhang, for example, spends over 10 hours teaching at school before coming here as a student in the evening. She finds the change of environment and her role in the classroom to be refreshing.

"The classes offered here help alleviate my stress and lift my spirits. They are not tiring at all," she said. "In addition to calligraphy, I've also tried out courses like African drumming, balloon art, and weaving."

Gong Benyi demonstrates latte art to his students at the night school. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Gong Benyi, a 28-year-old who works as an instructor at a coffee academy during the day and as a latte art teacher at the night school, expressed his passion for coffee.

"As soon as I start talking about coffee, I perk up instantly, even when I'm feeling tired. Sharing about coffee culture and giving demonstrations always get me excited."

Both students and teachers appreciate the relaxed yet passionate atmosphere at the night school.

Gong recalled a time when the power went out during class. "We couldn't operate the machines without electricity, so the students improvised by turning on the flashlights on their phones as I talked about the more theoretical stuff," he said. "I was really touched by their dedication to learning."

Yuli mentioned that on one occasion, her class went over the scheduled time because students kept asking questions.

"I was more than happy to answer them," she said. "I've been invited to teach makeup techniques at large companies before, and those classes were often more formal and tense. Here, the students are more outgoing and relaxed, with a diverse range of makeup styles to explore."

Wang said that coming to the Night School for Youths has helped expand her social circle and allowed her to make new friends.

For Zhang, it has brought her closer to her co-workers. "In the past, we only talked about work. But since we started taking night school classes together, we've found more shared topics and have gotten to know each other better," she said.

Not only have these students formed friendships among each other, but many of them have also become friends with their instructors.

"It has been rejuvenating to interact with these youngsters," said Cheng Weihong. "We would talk about their lives and exchange views on traditional culture, which has been quite interesting. I'm impressed by the depth of their thinking and their passion for Chinese culture and calligraphy."

Yuli also said that she has gained a lot from her teaching experience.

"More and more people are devoting increased attention and time to their appearance, and I'm glad that night schools serve as a platform of exchange for both students and makeup teachers like me," she said. "As they improve in their makeup skills, I also learn about their needs beyond makeup, such as hair and overall styling."

By understanding this, Yuli believes that she can provide more useful guidance to her students and fellow makeup artists down the line.

"I hope that in the future, more practical classes can be added to the curriculum, and the class sizes can expand to accommodate more people."

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