One of the most challenging and most fulfilling things about volunteering with the Peace Corps is the freedom to work within the community in a variety of ways, most of which are not set ahead of time. As Community Health Promoters most of us are stationed out of Health Centers (a few volunteers are assigned to hospitals), but we are not limited to working there. One of the more frequent projects the health pcvs in Guyana seem to work on is helping with HFLE (similar to health classes at home) or starting a health club.
Along with a neighboring volunteer, we have taken over the HFLE classes at one of the local secondary schools. I dropped by the school a couple of months ago to introduce myself and see if there were any projects they thought I might be able to help with, I was not disappointed. The HM (Head Master (or Mistress at other schools)) the equivalent of a principal, was extremely welcoming. He offered to let me take over the HFLE courses this term and I started the same week. We discussed the various health topics and he gave me pretty much free reign of the curriculum. The teachers too were welcoming and offered me any assistance I may need with the classes.
This week has been our last week for the term, the students still have a couple of weeks testing in core subjects, but I can’t believe the our term is already over. The experience has exceeded my expectations. We have been working primarily with Form 1 and 2 students (7th and 8th graders) and overall they’ve seemed eager to learn and participate. I have been so impressed with their work ethic, honesty, and openness – I feel truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach them.
Our classes all did really well on their final, with the vast majority of students earning As. I’m so proud of them and happy to know that at least some of what we taught sunk in. There were still a few common myths that some of the students didn’t remember weren’t true, but I’m sure it is confusing to them as they had previously been taught some of those myths were true. An example of this is they were taught someone can contract HIV through kissing. While we covered the big myths in class, I think the test results showed me I need to focus on them more next term.
Next term we are working on scheduling the HFLE classes all on 2 days, to give us more flexibility working in other areas of the commnity. In the meantime, 2 of my fellow pcvs and I are working on a curriculum guide for HFLE classes, with health club tie in activities. We’re hoping to present it to the Ministries of Health and Education, as well as apply it to local schools.
This week my classes have worked on 2 maps of our region – showing what they think is important within our community.
I love seeing Guyana not only from a locals eyes, but the unfiltered vision of the youth of Guyana.
The girls talked me into taking a selfie with them. (Hard to say no when they’ve all been hugging me and thanking me for teaching every week.)
The 7th grade classes all gathered today in their empty hall (covered pavilion) to thank me and say how much they enjoyed my class. Hearing them all talk about how much they learned this term really warmed my heart. I can’t wait for next term! (I hope they’re as excited as I am.)