Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Nursing, Rock, and Roll in Paraguay

Guapo: def. Forget what you thought is meant. It means hard working. Not that you're hot. Weird, I know.
Charla: def. Forget that you thought it meant to chat. It's an instructional seminar. Weird, I know.

There are many different types of volunteers. Some volunteers are really involved with youth, others prefer an older demographic, some like to focus on national initiatives, and some just lock themselves in their house for two years and wait it out. Then there are those super guapo volunteers who give a charla or teach a class like every freaking day.

I am not a charla giving volunteer. While I have taught a variety of classes, I don't often find myself in front of a classroom. It's just not my thing. There are volunteers who jump into a classroom and light it up. They are captivating, and impressive. You can tell that they know what they are doing, while I just shuffle around awkwardly until my allotted time is up. I have good intentions. My results just seem to always fall a little short of inspiring.

Now, forget everything I just said, because I gave an awesome charla yesterday. To be fair, the awesomeness had very little to do with me, but rather a girl in sitting in the back of the room, who made my day.

I was asked to give a charla to a group of nursing students about having a global perspective and goal setting. This is always a tough topic in Paraguay, because it's not uncommon that when you ask a person "What do you want to be when you grow up?" they will answer, "Happy." While that's A) Totally the right answer, and B) totally awesome, it kinda messes up my lesson plan. But I had some good material that would carry  me through 30 minutes leaving me and the students mostly unscathed. We started with an exercise to imagine our best life in 10 years time, and using that image articulate a goal or dream. I then wanted to work on an example so that I could show tools one could use to find ways to achieve that dream. Expecting the usual silence I encounter when asking a question to the class, I noticed a group of girls giggling and prodding their friend to share. Seeing my chance, I hopped on this peer pressure bandwagon, insisting the girl provide an answer. "I want to be an infermera roquera," she giggled.

I had no idea what this was. Infermera is a nurse. That makes sense. I'm at a nursing school, but what the hell does "Roquera" mean? Is this some specialization? My Spanish is decent, but I constantly hear new words, and have to ask the meaning, so I ask her to repeat it. And again. And when she sees I have absolutely no concept of what she is talking about, we resort to the old communication standby, charades. She starts nodding her head up and down, and waving one arm about. Holy shit, She's playing air guitar. It wasn't roquera, it was ROCKera. This girl in front of a class of almost thirty people declared that she wanted to be a rock and roll nurse. Epic.

We worked through what a rock and roll nurse would do, what skills she would need, and how to get those skills. A perfect example, what seemed outrageous and silly, was simplified. Broken down into it's parts and corresponding steps, all of a sudden the ridiculous seemed reasonable. One could be a rock and roll nurse should they want.

I don't expect to be transformed into a person who is constantly in front of a classroom trying to expand young minds, but I did have a great time yesterday. I'm glad I met this group of people. The best part is I get to outsource an upcoming nutrition charla to my rock and roll nurse. Best, both because then I don't have to give the charla and it almost looks something like development.