Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Do You Know About HIV and AIDS?

Query: What's more amusing than pulling out a wooden penis in front of fifty-plus strangers (most of which are your elders) and doing an impromptu condom demonstration under a tree?

... actually, I don't have an answer to that ... reading it back to myself, I realize that 'not much' is the adequate answer.

Query: What's scarier than teaching a simplified HIV/AIDS lesson to a classroom full of students you've never met (ranging from the ages of 10-20) with a format you've only read about and a clear language barrier?

... probably crouching over the back of a ten-thousand year old, half-blind, two-ton crocodile that has thankfully decided he would rather eat the significantly smaller baby chicken dangling in front of his mouth, than you.

I have done all three of these in the span of a week and I'm not sure much will pass it in hilarity, awkwardness, and slight horror in the next two years. Having said this, however, I'm fairly certain I will eat those words sooner than I expect.

The best way to learn about something is to teach. This fact is all but universal. The best thing to do to learn a multitude of facts about yourself (including, but not limited to, your patience level, mental stability, ability to improvise and adapt to the unfamiliar, and the surprise of looking up and realizing you're holding a legit HIV/AIDS lesson) is to teach an impromptu HIV/AIDS lesson in a classroom and under a tree (... and various other locations that have yet to be determined because we all know planning is for rookies ...)

This means that very soon, owning at least one wooden penis and a multitude of condoms (with no real normal explanation ... though the term 'normal' is largely interpretive in this situation) is going to be a reality I will know intimately (clever pun completely unintentional).

As stressed as I was that morning, coming up on the tail end of 2 weeks living in a house with the same people 24-hours a day, in retrospect, it was an awesome experience - the likes of which I've only ever imagined in passing.

It's also completely satisfying to realize they've learned one thing; that they were engaged for a tiny moment and learned something because I taught it to them. Especially when it's related to their futures and well-being. I'm even toying with the idea of teaching a basic geography/history lesson at the local school in my village. This means my abilities to speak the local language will have to increase exponentially, but that will come with time.

For now, I'm stuck with the ridiculous image of 3 O'bronis standing in front of a classroom of kids and teenagers, talking about condoms, vaginal secretions, semen, and sexual activity. Because, really, that sentence, alone, requires a second run-through and makes me giggle out loud, even now.