I can’t believe it’s already July. So many things have happened since I arrived in New Jersey in May. My training with the Masakhane Center is complete, and I’ve started co-facilitating workshops. I’m also working on a few video projects for the Center, one on pregnancy and one on pornography (to be used in training and in our workshops).
My main goal for this internship was to gain some hands-on experience in the realm of public health, and I’ve hit that goal pretty head on. I facilitate one workshop a week (which will soon be three workshops a week) on a whole host of topics: pregnancy, pregnancy options, safer sex, gender identity 101, sexual orientation 101, and healthy & unhealthy relationships – just to name a few. I’m currently working at Newark Renaissance House, which is an addiction treatment center for teens. I work exclusively with young men – and their energy and enthusiasm is infectious. I’ve been having a wonderful time getting to know my kids and their personalities. Lesson planning is much more rewarding when I feel like I’m able to tailor our activities to their specific needs. When I start facilitating workshops with middle school groups, I will have an all boy group and an all girl group. I’m excited to observe the differences in energy, attitude, etc. with either gender (since I’ve only worked with men so far).
I learn everyday working with the Masakhane Center. Not only am I now much more comfortable talking about STIs and the stages of pregnancy, I’m also more confident in my ability to teach. While I was initially nervous to facilitate, my experiences thus far have been so positive I look forward to it each week. My teaching skill set has vastly expanded since coming to the Masakhane Center. Teaching is an invaluable skill that I feel will help me academically and professionally.
Working with the Masakhane Center has challenged many of my preconceived notions about sexuality, gender, and the way we talk about identity politics – which wasn’t something that I expected. It’s been an eye-opening experience, because in a lot of ways I thought I was progressive and understanding already. However, being an ally and teaching in a way that isn’t heteronormative has been difficult but also rewarding. I hope to carry this newfound understanding and open-mindedness throughout the rest of my life.