I have been fortunate enough to teach reproductive health and sex education class at Love & Care school the past few weeks. I teach two grades: 12 and 11 (relatively comparable in age with American high school but much further behind in education level). Information about the body is always empowering but this has been particularly rewarding considering what my research has opened my eyes to regarding women’s issues in Burma. Especially those who have moved to refugee camps. There are many issues regarding unwanted children and highly unsafe abortions done by “traditional medicine practitioners”. Of course, knowledge about contraceptives completely eliminates this problem. My grade 12 class is higher in their English level so we got through the material in only two weeks. The exam results weren’t what I wanted, however, with many mistakes on simple questions such as “why does the birth control pill not protect you from STDs” and so forth. Because of this I’ve been trying to really go slowly and impress strongly these ideas in grade 11. Today it felt like we had a mini breakthrough. When we discussed the seriousness of issues relating to STD/STIs they really were moved by the information. It truly can mean the difference between life and death and we had a few graphic pictures of stage 3 syphilis and chlamydia to prove it.
At my high school our motto was “Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus” or “We learn not for school but for life”. Protection against disease is a huge issue for the impoverished all across the world– and incredibly empowering to have an education about. Teaching Burmese students has been an awesome and rejuvenating experience. It’s really nice to teach in a place where teachers are so highly regarded and respected.
Of course, like any place, there are drawbacks. In Thailand there’s one huge drawback: the critters. It all started last night when I had American night with my friend India 🙂 we cooked French fries and shared about our experiences so far in Thailand. She is a post graduate working at a French NGO here in Mae Sot. After dinner my peaceful walk back to my room was interrupted by an unlikely source. A frog.
Let me make one thing clear: I’ve never seen or dealt with a frog much less a tropical one and I don’t know which are poisonous or aren’t. As I’m also not trying to find out. This little guy caught me between the small enclosement where shoes go and the door. So of course… I had to run for my life. Clearly he got the same memo because he too was trying to get as far from me as possible. But he couldn’t jump high enough to get out of the small area. So we ran in circles a few times until I managed to get the door open. He just stood very very still… as if to make himself invisible.
Which of course makes me feel extremely guilty.
But I can’t help my phobia of these critters. To make matters worse I woke up to an unidentifiable (and already dead–how?) beetle/roach like creature on my floor. No wonder I can’t sleep, at night all the little critters wake up.
Anyways, I just finished my last class of the day: west African dance. I showed my class my dance company’s performance of Lamban for inspiration and they really enjoyed it! They will be performing the Tuesday after next at my going-away event! I can’t wait to get pictures and footage of their performance but I’m very sad to be leaving soon. I am staying for dinner with the Love & Care family tonight 🙂 nothing like a home cooked meal from right off the fire! Here they get the wood from the forest, cut it down, and cook with it! That’s about as “from scratch” as it gets and so far my experiences with Burmese food have been awesome!
In other news: back home my partner has been getting everything set up for us to move into our first apartment! 🙂 so I have a lot to look forward to–but saying goodbye is never easy..,
Speaking of which…