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From Jiangxi to Zhejiang: Shi Dan's journey in hairstyling

By MA ZHENHUAN in Hangzhou| China Daily| Updated: October 10, 2022 L M S


Shi Dan won the gold medal in hairstyling at the 45th WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia, in August 2019. The event is a vocational education and skills excellence event where young specialists aged 25 and younger compete for medals in their chosen skill. [Photo for China Daily]

The 24-year-old shares her story of inheriting a revolutionary spirit, how it helped propel her to become a world champion and her decision to enter into public service.

Shi Dan, a 24-year-old from Shangrao, Jiangxi province, took several years to become a world champion and has since settled in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province.

Shi won the gold medal in hairstyling at the 45th WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia, in August 2019.The event is a vocational education and skills excellence event where young specialists aged 25 and younger compete for medals in their chosen skill, which was organized every two years by WorldSkills International to showcase the best in skills and promote careers for youths.

Born in an old revolutionary area in Jiangxi province, Shi inherited the revolutionary spirit of the Jinggang Mountains — a spirit that values faithfulness, perseverance, reason and the people.

After graduating from junior high school, Shi failed to enter her preferred high school, so her parents insisted on seeking new learning opportunities for her.

Hangzhou is renowned as the "Oriental Leisure Capital", and its government has listed the beauty and hairstyling industry as one of the ten characteristic industries with the greatest potential for development.

In the summer of 2013, Shi and her parents left their hometown for Hangzhou to study hairstyling, which later became her life-long career pursuit.

During the process, Shi's affection for hairstyling changed from just learning a craft to a deep love. "I'm very lucky to meet my teacher, Ji Zhenglong, a national-level hairstyling expert. He and my school led me on the path of the hairstyling profession," said Shi.

"Hairstyling is not only a skill for making a living but also the pursuit of excellence," Shi added.


Shi Dan, won the gold medal, wears the national flag, in 2019. [Photo for China Daily]

In June 2015, she won runner-up in men's trend-trimming in the 39th Asian Beauty and Hairdressing Competition.

In 2017, she was selected to join the national training team for hairstyling at the 44th WorldSkills Competition, winning first place in the preliminaries, but she failed to win in the finals.

However, Shi and her team never gave up. "The expert coaching team led by Ji Zhenglong encouraged me. I also paid special attention to summarizing experience and lessons, and strictly followed the training plan. I got up at 6:00 am every morning for a 5-kilometer run for physical training, and then did professional skills training that lasted until 10:00 pm."

Two years later, Shi broke her way to victory and won the 45th World-Skills Competition. Shi recalled the award ceremony, saying that "I was very excited at the time. I felt proud when I stood on the podium and represented the Chinese delegation. I knew this medal did not belong to me, but my coach, my team and my motherland. Without their help, I couldn't have made it."


Shi Dan (left) designs hairstyles with Chinese characteristics. Shi has won several international medals in the industry. [Photo for China Daily]

Giving back to society

Since winning the competition, Shi has committed herself to being a teacher at a vocational high school in Gongshu District, Hangzhou since September 2019, as well as a coach to the national team, with the hope of cultivating more talent in hairstyling and helping more young people realize their dreams.

At present, Shi and her teacher Ji Zhenglong are busy training young people with hairstyling skills. On May 31, 2022, the WorldSkills Organization decided to cancel the 46th WorldSkills Competition which was scheduled to be held in Shanghai due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the hairstyling competition will be held in Finland in mid-October this year.

"Our current goal is to defend our championship," Shi told China Daily.

"The hairstyling of our country features grandeur, delicacy, composure and self-restraint, which is constantly emphasized when we train the younger generation. Our style should not only conform to the aesthetics of different countries but also reflect our characteristics," Shi said.

"There is no unified standard for beauty, but the characteristics of each era and the cultural heritage of a country can always be inherited, so I hope that competitors from other countries can see our country's interpretation of beauty," Shi said.

Since Shi joined the hairstyling industry in 2013, she has devoted herself to public service. Shi told China Daily: "As long as I have time, I'd like to go to squares, communities, streets and other places to provide my services."

As one of the members of the Hangzhou Volunteer Service Team, she provides free haircuts for the elderly over 60 years old and she tries her best to make them happy.

"By offering public service, I can feel the value that our industry brings to society and I hope that more people can devote themselves to public service," Shi said.