Today we stationed around the clinic to do checkups. We woke up at 6 as usual, setting up some tables and equipment around the clinic until 9. After setup, we waited excitingly for locals to come.

There were six stations: Waiting Area, Check-In, Nutrition, Height/Weight, Blood Testing, and Children’s Station. The health stations would go as follows:

  1. Participants and children would check-in.
  2. A volunteer would measure the child’s height and weight.
  3. Participants and volunteers go over nutrition information.
  4. The children would get their blood taken.
  5. Check out and documentation
  6. At the kid’s station was arts and crafts.

A colleague and me were in charge of the waiting area (pictured above behind the white truck). We shared Zika information with locals as they waited. The presentation covered symptoms, modes of transmission (sexual and mosquito), prevention; and treatment and we used hand-drawn posters as a guide. We did at least five sessions throughout the day.

Each session began by asking if the community members heard of Zika and how it’s is transmitted. After, we transitioned to discuss symptoms and treatments. Last, we dedicated time for questions and/or comments.

A majority of participants were mothers and children.  Mothers were chatting among themselves and others breastfeeding while children would either sit or play around. The minimum they would wait would be perhaps a half an hour and the max of an hour. I would say it’s comparable to waiting to see a doctor in the states.

My colleague presented the first few times. She spoke Spanish fluently with various intonation and made eye contact with everyone. With such great verbal and non-verbal skills, she would make a great Spanish teacher! At the end of some sessions, she quizzed participants and asked if they would all get a 100.

After some sessions, I did a couple. Seeing how much better her Spanish was than mine, I was trying to copying her. However, it wasn’t a good attempt: My voice was shaky and I constantly lost my train of thought. I asked my colleague for help at times if there was a word I didn’t know. Yet, like for anything, doing this for the first time was well out of my comfort zone. Though my Spanish public speaking skills improved with succedent sessions.

Overall, the locals were knowledgeable and eager to learn more about Zika. Some didn’t participate, yet others did. It was very interesting to hear their responses to questions. For example, when asked about how they heard about Zika, some claimed to have heard of it through the radio. Some also knew that it was transmitted by mosquito and that removing trash and mosquito breeding sites can reduce chances of Zika. All the participants even got 100s on the post-quiz. It was great to see that participants retained the information well.

The health stations lasted from the morning until the early afternoon.  Lunch was the usual Gallo pinto and some avocado. Once finished, we packed up for the day and relax. The kid station was still going on, though. Kids drew masterpieces including flowers, butterflies, and of the volunteers. I also overheard that kids were crying and screaming when they got their blood samples taken. I felt a little bad for them and those who had to do it!

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For the rest of the day, I was teaching English 101. A girl asked me to help her with English homework: She had to translate a passage from Spanish to English. So I helped out reading aloud for a bit.

That evening, I spoke with some of the health promoters at the patio. I taught some phrases in English and in exchange they taught me some in Spanish. I did basics like “how are you” and “I am good”. One of them even asked me how to say buena profesora (good teacher). While they got some words easily, others were a challenge to pronounce. Words like mother and father were easy. However, they had difficulty pronouncing the t sound in words like to. Instead, it would come out as choo. D also was hard and came out as the t sound. So, when I said good morning, they said it as goot morning. I kept pronouncing the word slowly until they pronounced it correctly.

In return, I was taught some Spanish 101. Or more, they would ask me to name items surrounding us. Any items I didn’t know they would tell me.  So I would name things like a chair (silla) or table (mesa). Then to throw a curveball, they described something in the kitchen; Name the item that produces smoke in the air. I knew what they referred to but not the word. So they told me it was an oven (huerno).  They then went to Nicaraguan idioms like tuani (awesome) and que nota prix? (what’s up?). I sure enjoyed class today and think the health promoters did likewise.

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