Tag Archives: Summer 2015

And So They Took My (Demonstrational) Dildos

It’s hard to believe that my time at Masakhane has come to an end. It feels like just yesterday that I showed up in Newark. Never in my life has three months gone by so quickly. I’ve learned an incredible amount about sexuality, facilitation, and the Newark community. The skills I’ve acquired are vast, and not all of them are quantifiable. It’s difficult to explain all of the awareness I’ve gained – from just reading participant emotions to understanding that cultural biases are something easily overridden.

My experiences this summer have been invaluable to me. They’ve helped to shape my professional aspirations in a way that I was not expecting. I always new I wanted to work in a field of public health, preferably related to child and maternal health, but now I am much more sure that I want to be working in the field of sexual health and sexuality. I also never truly considered teaching as a career option, but now it’s on the table. Teaching was an incredibly rewarding experience (though difficult at times). Even if I’m not teaching in the “traditional” sense, I would really like to be involved in some form or other of education. I’d like to continue teaching in a more alternative setting throughout the rest of my time at Tulane (perhaps as a doula – otherwise known as a labor specialist).

For anyone who is interested in sexuality or sexual health education, I would encourage them to read anything and everything they can get their hands on. Read as many differing opinions as you can. Inform yourself on current events related to sexual health, but also dig deeper. Don’t just use Facebook, reading click bait titled “The Truth About Being Transgender,” – look harder. Be critical, but also be sensitive. Recognize your own truths and biases. It’s easy to get angry and worked up when reading intentionally inflammatory arguments on the Internet. Avoid as much Internet fodder as possible, or you will burn out. Sexual and reproductive health in America are such hot button topics, it’s easy to get mired in the thousands of voices shouting at you that what you believe is wrong, your sexuality is wrong, and that your reproductive health is not yours to control. But sexual health education is so important, so valuable, and so misunderstood; giving up isn’t really an option. At the end of the day, when a participant thanks you, and says, “I can’t wait for next week” – it’s all worth it.

And no, I didn’t get to keep any of my demonstrational sex toys

That's me scarfing shake shake while other interns look cute in Madison Sq Park after visiting the Sex Museum together.

That’s me scarfing shake shake while other interns look cute in Madison Sq Park after visiting the Museum of Sex together.

 

Au revoir, Genève – Angelica

Now that I am back home and able to reflect on the past two months, I’m realizing how much I have learned and experienced throughout the course of my internship. In terms of giving me some direction professionally, my time with ICMHD was invaluable. It has allowed me to see what working in public health could entail, and how I may best contribute, especially in the earliest phases of what I’m hoping will become my career. More broadly, and perhaps even more importantly, it has renewed my determination to pick an occupation with which I will be able to do some “good.”

My internship has given me some insight into how this goal may be attained. One of my learning objectives was to understand, in greater detail, how NGOs and intergovernmental organizations can help in the pursuit of “development,” which I continue to associate with the alleviation of suffering, at least in part. My conversations at my internship, whether over lunch, or during a meeting or after a presentation, have exposed me to the complexity of doing so and the necessity of a combined effort on the part of citizens, governments, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and many other entities that have the potential to generate change. Sweeping measures do not seem to work when addressing the root of persistent development and public health issues. One of these issues, which I was able to learn more about through a presentation at my internship site, was the high rate of cesarean sections in many parts of the world. The reasons why so many women are opting for C-sections is not well understood, and likely vary from country to country, presenting a complicated and pressing issue to unravel. I would like to be part of the effort of answering these types of difficult questions in public health in the hope of better understanding that which influences our decisions regarding health.

With this idea in mind, I would like to continue to learn about research in public health, and contribute what I can when I return to New Orleans, and beyond. I would like to further investigate sources of inequality and how they influence health and well-being, a research topic I view as extremely relevant for study in New Orleans, a city suffering from great inequality with unique public health needs. I now feel I have more direction in my coursework as well as the work I plan to do outside the classroom to facilitate this.

My experiences in Geneva have also reinforced my determination to do as much abroad as possible. Seeing other parts of the world is incredibly rewarding and essential to understanding our increasingly globalizing and multicultural lives. Anyone interested in doing work that will have an impact on people outside of your own culture should seize opportunities to immerse oneself in life elsewhere. I’ve heard the importance of cultural literacy emphasized time and time again throughout my internship.

It is difficult to encompass the change I feel I have undergone and everything I have learned during my internship. I remain thankful to Newcomb College Institute and the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching, for making this experience attainable. I believe that experiences such as these are at the heart of what life as a college student should be. I don’t know when else I will have the opportunity to so freely explore my interests. This summer will truly be a defining moment in my life.

I can’t wait to return to Tulane and apply what I’ve learned at ICMHD and living in Geneva to life in NOLA (which will be quite soon, as I’m back in early August for RA training).

Until next time, Geneva!

A view from a hike in the Swiss Prealps.

A view from a hike in the Swiss Prealps.

IMG_5986

My favorite spot to swim in Lac Léman, Baby Plage – “plage” is French for “beach.”

IMG_6004

A picture I find representative of the clean, Calvinist-cool vibes of Geneva’s old town.

IMG_6056

Another delightful spot in the Old Town.

IMG_6064

St. Pierre Cathedral. My hostel was located right across the square from it. It’s bells ring every 15 minutes. One ding for the 15th minute of the hour, two for the 30th and three for the 45th. Surprisingly, I and many others at the hostel did not find this annoying, except on Sundays when the bells would ring for a solid 10 minutes, from 9:50 until 10 a.m. I had to, however, appreciate being so close to such a beautiful, historic building.

Learning Not To Teach Heteronormativity & Stuff

 

 

**PREACH**

**PREACH**

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.

Masakhane Summer 2015 Interns feeling united!!

Masakhane Summer 2015 Interns feeling united!!