A few months ago my counterpart and I discussed our ideas for a PTA forum at Iphutheng Junior Secondary School, the school I work at. We planned to have motivational speakers come in to talk to the parents and really get them involved in their child(ren)'s education.
I really wanted to do something that would be beneficial for my community, something the parents could take with them and think about. So even though the topic is really sensitive, I thought it perfect to talk about how/when/why to speak to children about sex. I know I was feeling a bit "ballsy" but I was confident...until the day I walked into the room and saw a room full of Basadi Boholo (old women). I was thinking, "Great. There will be so much resistance and they'll hate me after this." The traditional Batswana culture does not talk about these things. They rely on metaphors and talking in code, essentially, and it really isn't helpful in a country whose prevalence of HIV/AIDS is the second highest in the world. It is taboo and parents do not feel that talking to children about sex is a priority. But it really is.
As I was presenting the information I was surprised at how receptive the majority of the audience were! People were asking questions left and right and were really interested in what I had to say. I was so happy. I started by telling them that I didn't want to disrespect or offend anyone and that I'd appreciate an open mind. And that's exactly what they gave me! Their brains were thinking and that's all I could ask for, even if it wasn't something they could change right away.
After I finished presenting, some people came up to me and thanked me for my "knowledge," asked me more questions, and commented on how they agreed that times were changing and different approaches were necessary. I was so happy. Something I was so nervous about turned into something so great. I like to think that something I am good at is being able to talk to people, almost anybody, and really being able to read a lot of people. So when I made jokes to ease the tension that the sensitive topics brought up, I was really relieved when they were responsive to them. I think, really, I was just excited that they understood my jokes. haha It was such a relief and a success. As with everything I do in the Peace Corps, the initial nervousness and skepticism almost always leads to positive reinforcement for myself. As long as I am confident enough to start a project, I know that it will end alright. The benefits always outweigh the nerves and insecurities. So happy I did it and they got something out of it!