a car. I worked as an independent stylist in a Kuwaiti salon called Dior and also set up my own studio in my villa.” Like many other American children in Kuwait, her daughter home-schooled through an online program. “There were so many adjustments and many struggles,” said Princetta. “I had to learn European sizes for clothes and shoes.” If she wanted to find a grocery store, she had to look for the Sultan Center or a Lulu Hypermarket. “Convenience stores were called Bakalas.” Before long, Princetta was a favorite among the prestigious in Kuwait including statesmen, ambassadors, and their wives. “Michelle Blackett, the Ambassador’s wife from Liberia, was an American woman who introduced me to other ambassador’s wives from places like Kenya, Tunisia, Senegal, and Nigeria. I experienced great things with them. When I was invited for tea or for an event, they would send their driver to get me. They always give gifts when you visit with them. The wife of the Dean of Senegal was such a beautiful lady. A beautiful spirit. She gave me a beautiful iron jar that had this fragrant oil inside.” The first time Princetta experienced Ramadan, she only saw the inconvenience. “The whole city shuts down for thirty days. It’s like a ghost town. A lot of the foreigners leave during that time. But I didn’t understand their religion and culture,” said Princetta. The Islamic month of Ramadan is a 29 to 30-day (determined by lunar sightings) period of fasting from first light until sunset. “You cannot eat or drink anything out in public, and everything is closed. You could go to jail for it. They’re really strict. In the beginning, I thought this is the craziest thing in the world. I questioned, ‘Why can’t I eat? Why are you making everybody do this?’ Then after a while, you get accustomed to it.” When Princetta first heard the call to prayer, which occurs five times a day during Ramadan, she thought, “What’s that noise? When they pray, everybody hears it. If you’re listening to the radio, it’s going to stop your music and go to praying. At first, it seemed like it was all the time. After a while, I learned to respect it.” For the Muslims in Kuwait, Princetta learned that Ramadan was not just about abstaining from something or reciting prayers but a time of reflection, of family, and a time of giving. “At sunset,” said Princetta, “every hotel, mosque, and home opens their doors to share ‘Iftar,’” the time at which Muslims break their fast. “It’s like Thanksgiving every night. Most restaurants aren’t busy because everyone is out with family or gathered at hotels for the meal. Sometimes I would see long lines on the streets at night where they were giving away free food. My girlfriend and I decided to go and see what they do, so we went to one of the hotels one night and participated in Iftar. It was the most beautiful thing to see everybody coming together. They didn’t care who you were. You didn’t have to be invited. In the back, there would be Arabic music playing. You could dance if you wanted.” Even during Ramadan, Princetta continued to attend services at Connections Church, a Christian church in Kuwait. “It was very multicultural, which I miss. There weren’t the cultural divisions like there are here. We had services even during Ramadan, but we knew to respect their religion,” she said. “In fact, I wish we did more things that brought us together like that.” In 2015, ISIS bombed a mosque in Kuwait City. “There was never any reason to feel fear until that happened. People literally left their doors open. It was the Middle East, and they still had public hangings, so there wasn’t much crime. I was planning to go to Kuwait City with my fiancé at the time when we heard that ISIS had bombed the mosque. That was the only time I felt fear during the entire four years I was there.” In 2015, her daughter Jewell was ready to come home. “It was a great experience for her,” said Princetta. “Every three months when we had to leave the country because we were there on a visitor’s visa. We used the time to visit places like Qatar, Bahrain, London, and Dubai. Out of all those places, Dubai is the best by far. There’s just so much to do and see there.” It was during this time that Princetta met Dr. Carol Ross, the President of Kuwait Community College. “She is an African American, and her sister, Dr. Jennifer Beckworth, was the Director of the American Universal School AUS. They had been in Kuwait for over ten years and knew everyone.” Through these connections, Princetta’s clientele began to expand to include the Kuwaitis and other nationalities. “In Kuwait, you had black Kuwaitis and lighter skinned Kuwaitis, and they had all different types of hair… They were the nicest clients, but the language barrier was a challenge at times.” In April 2016, Princetta came home to be with her daughter. “I was contemplating what to do.” She was now a highly-desired hair stylist all over Kuwait. “I always planned to be home for Jewell’s junior and senior year of high school. But there was a lot of fear in trying to come back to Toombs County. I would have to start all over again, and I didn’t want to come home and do the same old thing. During the six days I was home, I was looking around for a house that I could purchase for my mother and my daughter until I returned but could not find what I was looking for. Then out of the blue, my real estate agent told me about a place she thought I might be interested in for a salon.” The building had once been Rachel’s House, a pregnancy crisis center. “It was as if it was waiting for me. The layout was perfect for a ‘suite’ salon.” 60 Toombs County Magazine “I want to help create a community without divisions. My mama kind of raised us like that,” said Princetta.
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