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Kids get good old-fashioned life skills to succeed in the real world…

In a country such as the UAE, where many families enjoy the luxury of having maids, cooks and drivers to do all the pesky chores, there’s a danger that kids can grow up failing to learn some of life’s basic skills.
Kids getting life skills at Ritz-Carlton

How to make their bed, cook healthy meals, do their own laundry, conserve electricity – these are skills that they’re going to need when they fly the nest. In a bid to help them on the road to adulthood, a hotel in Dubai has been helping UAE kids get to grips with some important basic skills.

Students from Cambridge International School in Garhoud traded the classroom for training at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC on Tuesday to learn from the hotel chain’s ‘Succeed Through Service’ programme, part of the hotel’s social responsibility efforts.

Kids getting life skills at Dubai's Ritz CarltonThe day started with a healthy eating and safe food handling session with executive chef Ron Pietruszka. Then the kids put theory into practice to create a healthy meal: sautéed salmon, pumpkin puree, spinach and quinoa. The teens then went to work during a team-building workshop that involved making a bed in one of the guest rooms and learning how to read a water meter, while picking up a few energy-saving tips to help them reduce consumption at home.

Indian expat Ashna Makhija, 14, admits that this isn’t the sort of thing she usually does around the house. She told 7DAYS: “We depend on my mum for all this. And the thing is we have a maid so we don’t have to do it. But it’s good for us to learn I guess. I’ve always wanted to learn to cook, but I haven’t because there’s no need to.”

Her classmate Majid Ali Amiri, who also relies on mum to do it all, thinks it’s time for things to change. The Emirati student explains: “I do sometimes feel like cooking, but then I don’t. I don’t know how to… The one time I tried, I almost burned the entire kitchen. But I do think about healthy eating sometimes so I’d like to know more about how to actually do it.

“For example, yesterday, I ate four packs of chips without thinking just because I was watching a movie. But my brother, who is 25, already has high cholesterol. So I don’t want to get to that age and have the same problem.”

Kids getting life skills at Dubai's Ritz-Carlton

Ali Amiri also sees the benefits of getting into shape. “Because they now have the rule of Emiratis going into the military, I have to really watch my diet and get strong and healthy because I hear the training is really intense. They even make you crawl on your belly and that’s hard,” he says.

Teacher Leanne Ryder explains: “It’s not just about life skills, it’s about learning about different career opportunities. Often after a session like this the kids will ask me how they can get a job in the hotel industry.”

In fact, an earlier workshop has resulted in a student getting an internship with the hotel before going off to study hotel management at university, reveals The Ritz-Carlton DIFC manager Katrin Herz. She adds: “Hearing things from an outside person rather than your teacher or parents can sometimes be more effective. Plus hopefully seeing the process will make them appreciate the tasks more, and value the Have you learned?people who do it for them.”

Yet it’s not just the kids getting a change in perspective – it can be a reality check for the staff as well. Herz explains: “Yesterday, for example, when we had the students over, we showed them the wine wall, which contains approximately 3,000 bottles. I asked them if anyone knew how expensive some of those bottles were. Some of them said Dhs100. Then they said Dhs1,000. I said no, more… and they’re like ‘more than Dhs1,000 for one bottle of wine? But you drink it and then it’s gone…’. It’s fun and refreshing to hear their points of view.”

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