Going into my second year of service with the National Health Corps Chicago, I figured that things would be similar. Last year I served at the Respiratory Health Association as a Health Educator. I discussed asthma management strategies with parents, staff, and asthmatic students all over Chicago. Though I still serve as a health educator, the content of the education I provide has changed quite drastically: instead of teaching asthma management, I teach sexual health education. Furthermore, I primarily serve high school students as opposed to 3rd-8th graders.
Reflecting back on my experience teaching sexual health education, I can say the most challenging topic I taught was healthy relationships. As a twenty-four year old premedical student, I never really had the time or space to reflect on relationships until now. I'm not only speaking of romantic relationships, I am also referring to relationships with myself, friends, and family. While educating, I found myself learning a lot about healthy relationships as I was teaching. Learning while teaching allowed me to connect with students in a beautiful way. I wasn't ashamed to ask students for examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviors in a relationship. I was proud to see them sharing their knowledge, having fruitful discussions, and empowering one another. I think that's what learning should be. Teaching this way allowed me to empathize with my students. After all, I was in their shoes a little less than six years ago. I could play the devil's advocate and challenge their ideas of love. They could do the same and challenge mine. At the end, we developed something bigger than me, “the teacher”. We created a lesson that spoke to the experiences, needs, goals and lifestyles of an entire class.
This experience made me realize that although I may not have all of the answers, I have the tools to find a solution. Furthermore, based off of my experience as a Health Educator, I have decided to specialize in adolescent medicine once I become a physician. I am grateful for all of the students that I had the pleasure of serving this year and I look forward to having similar conversations with my patients as a physician.
This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2018-19 member Emonii Robinson.
Emonii is a Health Educator at Erie Family Health Center - Clemente.