Asking teens about sex and other uncomfortable topics - where’s the textbook on that?

Ministry of Education sign

Hannah Eck

I am very excited about our upcoming trip both personally and professionally. I did a decent amount of global health work in my undergraduate career but haven't had the chance to do so as part of my master's degree. I am grateful for this opportunity to work globally with UM's Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST)! My trips to Guatemala in undergrad inspired me to pursue a public health career, so I am looking forward to this experience. Additionally, PHAST does short term trips the right way with local partners and continuity as students return year after year. This is very important to me when working in a global health context.

My group of public health students is working on a project with the Ministry of Education looking at drug use, sexual behavior, and suicide ideation among adolescents in Grenada. I am a little nervous about making sure we are able to provide the ministry with valuable information. These are pretty tough topics for anyone, let alone kids, so I hope we are able to ask the right questions that spark an insightful conversation. This is my first time actually conducting a focus group so I hope everything runs smoothly and our questions are well crafted and culturally appropriate.
On a personal level I enjoy talking to people from different cultures and learning more about what their lives are like so this assignment is perfect for me. I am looking forward to meeting and connecting with the community. I am just coming off a trip to India so I am interested to see how this experience compares. From what I know I don't think it will be nearly as intense in terms of poverty, overcrowding or pollution. I think traveling is the only way to really know what contexts I am best suited to work in so I am interested to see what I learn about myself during my week in Grenada.

Professionally this will be a great learning experience. As a second year master's student I feel ready and able to shift from classwork to more tangible projects. I am thrilled to be working with the Ministry of Education building knowledge around a real word issue. Presenting to the Ministry of Education as opposed to a professor/class will be a nice change of pace and something I can speak to during my job search. I only worked for one year between undergraduate and graduate school so I really value experiences like this!

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