I led my first community education class tonight at the clinic! It was so fun!! This is probably the one part of this Senior Bridge project about which I was most nervous, because I usually get nervous about doing presentations in front of people, and I was nervous about the language barrier, and I was nervous about the topics I'd be teaching (I'm hardly an expert)... but it turns out I had nothing to worry about! We had a grand old time.
The clinic normally gives a class every Thursday night at 7pm. On Haiti-Time (the island version of HaverTime)... that means people will probably START arriving around 7:15 or 7:30, and you won't have a crowd until sometime after that. Ninotte was joking that, in Haiti, you need to tell people to arrive at 2 if you want them to all be there by 4. So the sign goes up on the front of the clinic on Thursday morning if we're doing a class, and it says 7pm and this week's topic. Then we wait for people... and start a bit after 7:30 or so. Like I've been saying, things are pretty relaxed around here.
The class didn't happen last week or the week before, which means tonight's class was the first since I've been here. I was sort-of waiting to see what class was like before planning my first lesson, just to get a feel for the style, length, format, mood, crowd, etc... but since it was canceled (not sure why) the past two weeks, I just figured I might as well go for it and make sure it's not canceled again! Sarah told me that the people who usually attend are big fans and always complain a) when it's over and b) when a week goes by without a class. :)
The OTP crew has done a bunch of topics surrounding birth, pregnancy, nutrition, and general health stuff, and at some point they said something to the effect of "we're running out of things to teach you!" -- the crowd of attendees promptly protested that fact and demanded that Sarah & co. come up with some more topics. They just love the class so much! They learn about interesting, useful things, and it's a lot of fun. They even wanted to have a test, so every few weeks (or maybe every month or two?), there's some kind of exam on the most recent lessons. So, needless to say, OTP started branching out and teaching about other things, too, including aquaponics, alternative fuels, and other fun things.
I decided to talk about hormones after sitting in one of the prenatal consultations in the clinic; Melinda was describing pitocin vs. oxytocin in pregnancy/delivery, and it was clear that the client hadn't previously learned much about hormones or that system. After I did my research and put together my lesson plan, Sarah helped me prepare and went over the topics and my powerpoint. The powerpoint would be in French (since that's what I'm able to prepare), I would speak in English (since I didn't have enough time between yesterday and today to prepare to do everything in French on my own), and Sarah/Ninotte would translate into Creole as I presented.
I've been listening to RadioLab (an awesome NPR show that has a free podcast!), and fortuitously, they have a show about the three main hormones involved in falling in love (dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin)! (If you want to look up the episode, it's called Your Brain On Love.) I happened to listen to it after I decided to talk about hormones and before I planned the class, so it was perfect timing and I was able to work in some of their fun stories as well as a couple sound bytes they had in the show. I also introduced hormones by explaining what they are, how they work, what sorts of things they can do within the body, etc. After talking about love hormones, we explained sex hormones, the hormones of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy hormones, and then threw in insulin & glucagon, adrenaline/epinephrin, and serotonin. In addition to talking about how everything works, we tried to emphasize the physical and emotional results of hormones because that's what we actually perceive and can relate to. Sarah and I were hoping to help everyone understand that sometimes emotions are out of our control (read: PMS), and there were also some side-notes about how to treat your lady (both during and not during pregnancy, both emotionally and physically).
Everyone was so interested and interactive! There was a lot of giggling and joking when we went through the love and sex hormones, as was to be expected, but it was all in good fun and we indulged them a little. But overall, it was great. There were a lot of good questions, and we of course didn't have all the answers, but our audience seemed to go away with a pretty good understanding of a lot of what we went through. And it ended up being quite a lot of information! One of the men in the audience was a doctor, so he had a couple of helpful (and more serious) things to add when we didn't have the full answer to a question. There were a few interruptions when Ziggy would come in and sit down, do something wrong, and be asked to leave (wash rinse repeat), but even that was taken in stride and we all laughed. The class lasted a whole hour, even though I had made a half-hour powerpoint, because there was so much interaction. Many thanks, once again, to Sarah and Ninotte for helping with translation and fielding the questions. (My Creole is coming along much faster now, but not THAT fast!)
The group who came was something between 15 and 20 people all-told, but I think a few missed the beginning and a few missed the end. There were only two women, one of whom was currently staying at the clinic (she's going through a period of high-risk observation) so she was going to be there regardless anyway. The other was a young woman who was there with her boyfriend, so it was cute to see them walk off together hand in hand after hearing about all the dopamine/norepinephrine/oxytocin that would make them (or had already made them?) fall in love. :)
All in all, despite the aforementioned nerves, I was happy and comfortable and enjoyed myself completely. It left everyone in a good mood, even though we finally had to tell them to stop asking questions and go home - it was getting too late! Their consolation prize for having to stop was (as it always is) free condoms. Now I can't wait to plan next week's class! This time, I'm going to try to do it in French, which will leave much less translation on Sarah and Ninotte's shoulders (although I'm sure I'll still have to lean on them some). At one point, some of the rowdier guys started asking about how to have sex with their pregnant wife without hurting her, since we said it was good for her (in terms of hormones) to keep having sex while pregnant... so next week will be all about healthy activities for pregnant women! Sex can be a part of it, but there's actually a lot of useful/important info under that larger category that we'll talk about, too. It should be great!
One last little thing - I'm really excited about my progress with Creole! I've had a few days this week where I just ended up sitting around for 2 to 4 hours with Danaelle and sometimes others, and we were just speaking in Creole! I'm still doing plenty of "Ki sa?" (what?) and "Mwen pa komprann" (I don't understand), but I can say so much more and understand so much more (albeit with some amount of repetition during our simple conversations). It's so fun and satisfying - I feel like I've broken through into the next stage of learning Creole or something. There's a decent-sized set of phrases (or types of phrases) that I'm so used to that they roll of the tongue faster than French when I try to speak French with people! :) Language immersion hard at work! Meanwhile, this means that Danaelle and I have been becoming good friends, which is super fun! She and Dada are such silly goofballs.