Queen's Health Outreach: Guyana Initiative

Week Seven

Our last week in Guyana has been filled with final lessons and final goodbyes. We had fun with many of our classes, playing final review jeopardy games to ensure a full review of the content we've gone over in the last 6 weeks. We also finished up discussing some topics such as communication and leadership as well as some final mental and sexual health lessons.

We collected evaluations from both teachers and students using qualitative evaluation questions to receive commentary on our work during the past 6 weeks of teaching. Some of our students' suggestions for us to improve included "more games" or "you did your best" which were funny and cute to collect and look at together. However, we were happy to receive some suggestions from students and teachers alike for future years such as to focus more on mental health, for example, or to teach more on suicide prevention. Evaluating our impact in the community and schools we work with has been a goal of ours as the end of initiative approaches. We also asked students to tell us what they learned and received insightful responses.

We were treated by some of our classes to goodbye celebrations. None of us expected such grateful send-offs from our schools. The Adult Education Association (AEA), where we work with students who are around our age, and one of our favourite teachers Mr. Gomes, had a fun last day with us. We had lunch with our students and did a quick and final sexual health lesson with a condom demonstration that was both informative and fun to do with students our age, making the peer-to-peer aspect of learning very present.

Another one of our favourite teachers, Miss Browne-Rose from St. John's Secondary School, sent us off with some of our favourite Guyanese treats such as icicles, mithai, and chicken foot (which are really small wantons, don't let the name fool you), even though we finished up with our St. John's classes last week.

Susan, one of the wonderful ladies from Rima's Guest House, showed us how to make roti using the traditional method of clapping the hot dough on Wednesday night. It was fun and educational, even if it burned our fingertips a bit! Then Gillian and Leorta treated us to a dinner of pumpkin and chickpeas with our homemade roti.

We had a fun last class with Reyaz Business Institute (RBI) on Thursday. Both Sarah and Avery with the grade sevens and eights downstairs and Georgia and Alexa with the grade nines and tens upstairs were treated to presentations and cards from their students. The cards were signed from everyone in the class. Georgia and Alexa were read a poem titled "QHO: Farewell." While bittersweet to leave our students with whom we had built strong relationships and a constructive rapport with, experiencing the gratefulness from schools firsthand made our transition out of Guyana a bit less sad. It's hard to leave a place that we have experienced so many incredible opportunities and challenges in, but we've been coming to terms with our time being over here and finishing up our content.

We had our last NTN This Morning session with Reyaz. This week it was interview-style during which Reyaz asked us about our favourite experiences and biggest challenges. We talked about how much we've learned being in Guyana, upholding one of QHO's principles: mutual learning. We teach lessons to students, but the learning and growth that we have developed being here, from our students and cultural experiences, has been just as significant to us.

Our friends from Berbice arrived in Georgetown on Friday night for our last night in Guyana. They and Louisa came to see the cricket club and observe our last session with the boys. We got some pictures with those who asked and spent some time at the cricket club with Reyaz afterwards. We were able to have good food and listen to some good music with good friends. It was a fun last night in Guyana and a proper send off before our flight Saturday morning.

Back at Rima's, we thanked the ladies and Michael for everything they have done for us over the last 7 weeks. They were amazing friends and always took care of us, which we are incredibly grateful for. We gave out cards and gifts to show our thankfulness, then went to bed before our flight Saturday morning.

In reflection on our initiative, we have taken the time to look back at the goals we made at the beginning of initiative this week. QHO-related goals included working with lower level schools such as C and D level schools to ensure as big of an impact as possible, and going to Essequibo to explore the idea of expansion of the QHO program. In many different ways we have achieved these goals and presented new ideas and opportunities that we are excited to pass on to future peer educators. Another goal of ours was to work on our community engagement, which Reyaz has helped us do by opening the doors of the Everest Cricket Club for us to work with the boys there. We have also explored partnerships with ASPIRE, the Guyana Foundation and our friend Olinda Griffith from Bartica, Essequibo. There is always more to explore and do, which has made our time coming to an end difficult, but we are always thinking of opportunities for next year and how to expand our impact in the future to continually improve QHO's initiative model.

Some of our more personal goals for initiative included going for runs around 3 times per week, which we achieved most weeks (more or less), journaling about our experiences (which most of us are behind on, but working hard at, especially Alexa), and to explore Georgetown to immerse ourselves in Guyanese culture, which we definitely achieved.

Going forward, some updates on us: Avery, our recent graduate, is moving to London, England at the end of the summer to pursue a job in gender equity consulting like the superstar she is. Alexa is excited to work hard this summer at camp and the Newmarket Farmer's Market before entering into her third year of Con-Ed in Biology and Math at Queen's in September. Sarah will be working on getting better at making SMART goals this summer as well as doing some online courses and being a barista at everyone's favourite coffee shop, Crave. She will be entering into her second year of a Health Studies degree at Queen's in September. Georgia will be spending the summer hiking in the Rockies back in Alberta as well as studying for the MCAT (ick) before going into her third year of Life Sciences at Queen's in September.

We are all incredibly grateful for the experiences, opportunities and challenges that being a part of QHO has presented us. We have made lifelong friends and grown both personally and as a group in many ways over the course of the last 7 weeks. We can only hope that the students we taught have learned from us as much as we learned from them.

All the best, and a final farewell,

The GTown Gals

Georgia, Avery, Alexa and Sarah

 

Our very last class on Friday afternoon at Enterprise Primary!

Alexa and Georgia's last class with their Gr. 9 & 10s at RBI

Cotton candy skies over the Everest Cricket Club

A thank-you card from our cricket team!

A final look at Georgetown while heading to the airport