February 9, 2012
Two days ago, Amanda, Julet, Denee, Esther, Sylvia, and Joel visited a school in a nearby town to speak about the importance of post-secondary education and the benefits of nursing.
Our trip was put into motion during our first week in Mongu. While picking up our new ZamBikes, Amanda serendipitously met a woman by the name of Chi-Chi. Seeing a group of Makuwas in Mongu isn’t a terribly common sight and so Chi-Chi was curious. Amanda explained that we are a group of nursing students from Canada and that we were staying for a few weeks. Chi-Chi, as it would turn out, is a guidance counselor at a secondary school and so she asked Amanda if she would bring a group of us to her school to speak to her students.
A few weeks passed before Chi-Chi contacted Amanda again. Details were set and, before we knew it, we were whisked away in the back of a van. Rocking (slamming) back and forth, we zipped along the pockmarked road on our way to the school.
Prior to arriving, Chi-Chi explained that this was the oldest school built in Western province. For an ancient school, we were surprised by how well-kept it was and the stunning location in which it was situated.
We stepped out of the van and Chi-Chi ushered us into the staff room. She set out to gather the students and to prepare the lecture hall. As we sat alone, we began to wonder exactly what we were getting into. Amanda had implied that she had been invited to speak and that we were going to support her. Chi-Chi, however, had other ideas.
She returned to the staff room soon after and inquired about our lecture plan. Although we were planning on having a casual conversation with the students, Chi-Chi wanted to have set introductions, speaking points, and conclusions. Hesitantly, we all signed up for topics while secretly shooting daggers at Amanda.
Satisfied with the plan, Chi-Chi took us over to the lecture hall. A dull roar of voices could be heard more and more with each step and we quickly realized that we would be speaking to more than just a class. The doors opened up and some hundred students became visible. Amanda! What have you gotten us into?
Our group took to the stage and sat down in front of our (very large) audience. Chi-Chi took some time to introduce us and sat down. It was all us now.
Before going any further, I should probably mention the heat. And the sweat. Even with the windows and doors open, the ventilation was next to nil. We sat in front of our audience, glistening, with sweat dripping down in places never before thought possible.
Denee stood before the group to explain the importance of post-secondary education. (“Anyone can… dig a hole. But nobody can take your education from you!”)
Next, each of us stood up and shared how we had all found our way into nursing. Joel then spoke about post-secondary education and how to apply internationally.
A question-answer period followed in which the boys asked questions (Chi-Chi: “Girls! Ask a question! This looks very bad on you!”). Julet, disturbed by the girls’ lack of questions invited (told) all of the grade 12 girls to approach the stage (“Education before babies! Education before babies!).
Before we knew it, the talk was over and the students stormed the stage to hear their heartbeats with our stethoscopes. The students were very engaged and brought up many good questions. We took plenty of snaps (photographs) and the students were excited to see their faces on our cameras.
And with that, we headed out to the van and traveled back to Mongu.
Although it was an after work experience, it ended up being entirely worth it. We were exhausted upon arriving but were pumped up by the students’ enthusiasm and the very idea that they had stayed late from school to hear from us.
We had a fantastic time at this school and we hope that this opens up new possibilities for next year’s group.
By Joel, Esther, Sylvia, Amanda, Denee, and Julet