Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When the goin' gets tough...

So imagine giving a presentation about sex and STDs to a group of 16 years olds when you realize that they seem to already know everything you came to teach them, nay, they know more than you do on the subject.  Combine that horror with the fact that you have rolled a condom halfway down your finger only to realize that you don't have the proper vocabulary to describe what you are doing or why you are doing it.  To top it all off you look down and realize you aren't wearing any pants!!!

Well, all or part of the scenario above happened to me today during my class on sex education.  At first I was really worried about giving a charla (talk) on sex to a group of catholic students.  I worried that their parents would be furious when they found out I was teaching them about condoms and whatnot but my counter part assured me that there was nothing to worry about.  He also told me that they were well versed in what sex was and I would not have to give them a rudimentary, and frankly embarrassing, description of the mechanics of how sex works - I'm 27 and I still haven't figured it out!

So I showed up with a set of cue cards thinking, "just stick to the cards and all will be fine."  Well I didn't have time to rehears the cards.  I worried about them laughing at the sex parts... but I was wrong.  What they found hilarious was my dismal attempt at pronouncing medical terms and my occasional desperate glance at the teacher for help.  They first uncovered my charade when I asked them if they knew what an STD is - to which they all shouted out in unison the meaning of the letters and a brief but accurate description.
"Wow!" I said, "You guys are really smart!"
"So who can name a few for me?"

The answers came flying back at me as if they were in a game show in a race for time.  I realized I was screwed when I didn't know what almost any of them were.  I had to turn to the professor, hoping he would give me an answer like "that is just the term here for genital herpes."  Instead he started explaining the symptoms and I realized how deep I had gotten myself.  I nodded in agreement as if what he was saying was being understood while really my mind was screaming at me to run, flee, find shelter, or cower in a corner.

Perhaps the most embarrassing part for me was when I was trying to show them how to use a condom (most of them had never even seen one and were not sure what it was really for).  I realized I could explain to check the expiration date, check for air to make sure the package was sealed, how to open it... then I didn't have the vocabulary to finish.  How do you say "make sure there is a reservoir of space at the end for the semen then roll the condom down the penis"?  I had to resort to sort of grunting, pointing, and repeating the words "do it like this" - which is not a very easy task in itself while trying to roll it down your finger....

Eventually I finished my charla and even did an activity to explain how HIV works and what the difference is between it and AIDS.  They seemed to enjoy themselves, and got a lot of giggles in at well. I am sure my foolishness was not as bad as it felt and the exuberant goodbye was more than enough to lift my spirits.

But if you are interested in seeing how it all played out, I saw a couple boys in back filming the whole thing on their cameras - so I may be coming to an internet near you...

I should also point out that I had the opportunity to get my hands dirty during our regional meeting in Chota.  We volunteered to help a health center plant a garden of spinach and then I watched as they gave them a charla on the benefits of growing their own food to meeting nutritional gaps (they lack a lot of nutrients and most children in the campo are malnourished).  Below are some photos of how it went!


  1. What? No photos of the whole condom episode??
    I don't think I could have made it through the whole speech myself, in a foreign language no less! I love reading your adventures, and your pictures are awesome!!

  2. You went to Chota!!! So jealous! I woke up today thinking I should make an attempt to call my host family. You are doing so well! Keep on keeping on!