The first days in each classroom went great! We were very well received by both the staff and students, and a positive energy certainly developed once we overcame the initial shyness barrier of the large group. All of the students were eager and engaged, and some interesting questions began to break through. While I was facilitating a short concept-development discussion on “health” in general, several of the groups mentioned substance abuse sourcing from a range of perceptions. Some suggested drug abuse having a negative impact on one’s health, while others questioned how drug abuse had anything at all to do with health.
In the second day at Sazira School, when we were in small groups having a separate conversation on discrimination and assertiveness, drug abuse was the first thing mentioned as we brainstormed types of abuse. I defined this as a form of, “self abuse,” and we moved on to the target discussion of other forms of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse. Substance abuse is not something that we plan to cover in the remainder of the curriculum, but it is certainly interesting to see the varying opinions on the topic. I wonder if the students mentioned it because it is something they talk about in other classes, or if it is an issue outside of the classroom among their peers. Both boys and girls, between sessions at each school, had raised questions about cigarettes and drugs having an impact upon mental and physical health
In either case, perhaps it is a worthwhile discussion topic in the future, or perhaps worth having a separate program to address these questions and clarify the disagreement among the students’ responses. We haven’t yet reached too far into our question box, so we will see where that takes us! I’m not sure if this is even an issue with the students in the area, or whether it simply came into the conversation because they heard these words in other classes. This is just a thought for future planning, especially since we are quite pressed for time with gender and sexual health as it is.
More on this to come! I am very curious to dig into the anonymous question box we have set up, to find out which directions this will lead us. We will keep these thoughts posted!