i probably look like the biggest goof in this internet cafe because i have a huge grin on my face due to the excitement about writing this blog!
today was great.
we got there around 915 again and went to the workroom to meet Alex. she proposed we make an exam template for the upcoming and future exams. they only have 2 more weeks of school before the winter holiday. their exams never have a 'cover sheet' like we know in the states. Name. Date. Grade. Course. so we sat in the lab and typed one up with a border and a logo of the school. it looks pretty spiffy if i do say so myself. we even wrote up some general instructions like "read each question crefully" "answer easy ones first" "take your time" and of course "try your best!".
we walked around the school again, this time with name tags on, and i don't know if it was because of the tag or if they have really good memories but i heard a few "hi katie!'s" around campus.
ruth and jen walked us into school today to see what was going on. yesterday was a slow morning so they just wanted to make sure we had something to do. they talked to one teacher and it turned out she was teaching a Life Orientation class at 1250 and would love our help. it's like a "family life" class. she welcomed us to come in all week and help out. so today after the lab we ate our lunch and waited around a few minutes until it was time for class. we practically ran there because we were so excited. we walked in to a room of probably 50 kids. same size as yesterday. it was already getting stuffy but today was a rainy day so it felt nice to me. the teacher gave us their text book to look over before class. today's subject was Teen Sex: Is Everyone Doing It? we knew this was going to be good.
it's not hard to believe but i have been appointed the 'speaker' of the group....because i'm loud. i don't think i'm loud.....i just have a lot to say and i want to be heard. anyway, so i told the kids who we were and why we were there and then introduced myself. after we all said our names we got right into it. it was the 4 of us in front of this room of 50 faces just staring at us waiting for us to speak. crystle opened to the first page and it was about Dating. we asked the class how they defined dating, love and relationships. we asked if anyone has been in love (one boy has been in love 3 times), what type of qualities they look for in a partner and if it was OK to date outside of their own culture. then we got to the sex talk. we discussed a few things out of the book like being pressured to have sex, if you should make a boy use a condom or what boys would do if a girl asked them to wear one (they all said they would). this group was totally blowing me away with their honest answers. they knew right from wrong. until we got to the question and answer portion. i asked them if they had any questions that we could answer for them. anything at all about sex or their bodies that they were not sure about. myths, if you will.
the room was silent.
so of course i said ".....so you guys know EVERYTHING about sex already?!" and the room errupted with laughter. one boy stood up and asked a question and then one girl did. then the silence came back and i knew we were losing them. so i used my loud mouth again. "...ok. if we pass around some paper will you write down your questions and pass them up and we'll answer them? no one will know who asked so please write ANYTHING you want!". their faces lit up. i passed out the paper and they couldn't write fast enough. we discussed some other issues while they were formulating questions at their tables and some kids even got out their own paper to write down questions. it was great! i went around and picked up the paper and read the questions out loud then the 4 of us answered them. most of the questions were normal teenage questions about sex and masturbation and different bodily functions but i read one piece of paper to myself and tucked it behind the others because i wasn't sure how to answer it yet. the question was, "where does HIV/AIDS come from?".
*if you have an answer for a teenage girl or boy in south africa that would totally clear that up for them please let me know. thanks.
so i read the question like the others and we all kind of looked at each other. i started with, "this is a really hard question and i'm sorry to say we don't have the answer for it. there is no pin-point location as to where HIV/AIDS was originated and there is no cure right now. (they were all staring at me, nodding their heads, so i thought i should keep going) but there is a way to prevent it from spreading. ANYTIME you have sex use protection, take birth control and make sure you and your partner get tested even before you have sex. if you get tested and you are positive it's not the end of the world. i promise. first of all you can feel good because you are saving so many lives by getting tested and knowing for yourself so you don't infect anyone else. (still nodding) there are medications out today that you can take to help you live a long and happy life even with HIV/AIDS. i wish there was a cure and i know millions of people who wish the same but until we find a cure we have to protect ourselves and each other." then liz told them a story about her friend who has been living with HIV for over 30 years. he takes medicine and has a great life. i think they really liked hearing that story and knowing it's possible to keep going. i told them i lifeguard and if someone has a cut on their foot i have to put on gloves and take all of these precautions before helping them because i want to ensure their safety and mine. i'm almost 22 years old and i have to say, that was the best sex talk i've ever had.
after class we hungout with them and asked if we could take a class photo. they jumped out of their seats and formed a pyramid in the middle of the class. squished next to each other, sitting on desks and standing on chairs! i forgot my USB chord today but i will upload it as soon as i can. after the class photo EVERYONE wanted to take pictures with us. it was such a surreal feeling. "can i take a picture with just you and me?" "will you take a picture with me and my best friends?" "i want to be in the picture!" so cute.
with all ups there are downs.
in the midst of the photoshoot excitement a girl came up to me and was speaking so softly i could barely hear her. i leaned in and said "please say that again" and she did but the only thing i could hear was "i have a problem..." so i asked her to step outside with me. we shut the door and walked down the sidewalk a bit and i asked her again "ok, what were you saying?". she proceeded to tell me that her "friend" has been sexually abused for the past 5 years. they wrote a letter to Oprah and haven't heard anything and they don't know what to do.
i asked if it was by a family member or boyfriend and she said a family member.
i told her some of the people from our group are working at a Rape Crisis center and if she wants, i would get information for her tonight and bring it to her tomorrow and she could talk to my professor if she wanted to. she said she would love that. i told her it would be OK and i would do anything i could to help. i don't know if it's going to be OK but i didn't know what else to say. i gave her a hug and told her thank you for telling me and she can tell me anything she wants and ask me anything she wants anytime she wants. she said thank you and we turned to walk back to the classroom and i noticed she wiped away some tears but she was still smiling. she's about 14 or 15 years old.
we left that class and headed back to the economics class and i took the same seat next to Caroline and Olivia. their teacher never showed up for class so we sat and talked with the rest of her table. they asked me questions and i asked them questions. one girl asked if i go to church. i told her i didn't and she asked why. i told her i just haven't found one that i agree with yet and she nodded her head and smiled and said "i understand, you just haven't felt you have connected with one yet". brilliant. i laughed and said that's exactly it. they all understood. i've been given weird looks from so many people at home because i don't believe in a conventional god or accept any certain religion but these girls totally got me. they didn't judge me or think i was a bad person for not going to church. they knew i had my reasons.
we got to hear the whole choir today. i got goosebumps again.
well, we're going to head back for dinner. hi jess and becca! i'm so glad you're reading! i love you and miss you and i hope the surfing thing works out too :)
i'll get those pictures up soon. i hope everyone is doing well!
i love you!