Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We Digress........

The last 2 weeks have been frenetic.  I agreed to fill in for a colleague who went on holiday overseas.  This meant instead of my 3 lectures a week, I would be doing 9.  Well after 17 lectures I really thought I had it waxed.  I was rolling with the punches, answering questions and being animated, all while trying to maintain vocal contact (my voice was disappearing fast). Fortunately my colleague is a perfectionist so I got a CD, notes, copied pages from the text, everything I needed for each lecture.  All I had to do was prepare for class the night before and I was A for away.  The first lecture I was diligent and was 110% prepared.  When I got to class however, I realized that I had prepared for the following week’s lecture and had nothing on the planned one for that day - oops.  So, I lectured for the stipulated 2 hours and each and every slide was never seen by me before!  This method of lecturing definitely keeps the heart pumping! 

After that little mishap, I triple-checked everything and I was doing really well (if I may say so myself).  But then came the final lecture.  Now there’s something about substitute lecturers and  final lectures that get students nutty so I should have known.   Firstly, out of the 39 students only 6 arrived for class (apparently nobody understood that they should study for a test that they were writing the following day and they suddenly realized that they were running out of time.  Hmmmm.  Anyway when I got there the numbers had increased to a massive 12 (I heard one of the students saying “we’re only going cos we like her lectures” – HUGE ego boost)  I obviously assumed that “her” was me *don’t burst my bubble* 

Anyway it was a fun lecture and pretty soon we got onto very interesting topics of discussion.  We were studying culture and I used circumcision as an example of a cultural belief/ ritual.  One student shared that she was from Nigeria and circumcision is the norm, but her brother married a Greek lady who obviously vehemently disagreed with this ritual and viewed it as genital mutilation.  This apparently sparked a family dispute which reached epic proportions when the couple visited with their 3 month old son and the family refused to accept any male child with a foreskin into their family!  The disagreement raged on and one night the couple went out leaving Granny to babysit.  Need I say more??………  yes, she actually had him circumcised without the parents’ knowledge or consent while they were at the movies!  As expected, all hell broke loose after that, including threats of extradician to Greece for prosecution!   Talk about a great example of different cultures – wow!

The conversation soon turned to the fact (not sure if it’s a fact) that in Johannesburg alone 58 000 legal abortions have been performed year to date.  This horrific statistic moved the conversation onto condoms and unwanted pregnancies.  I voiced my opinion that people should use condoms more out of value to themselves and their lives, with more of an intention to avoid contracting an STD than falling pregnant.  Pregnancy = life, some STDs = death.  And the opinions started flying!  Eventually we had a showstopper – one student at the back who never utters a word, suddenly shouted out “just do it in the bum!”


Not much leaves me speechless but this comment really did.  The laughter was explosive, but that was not all, another very quiet girl who obviously didn’t understand the comment wanted to clarify “so you can’t fall pregnant if you do it from behind?”  OMW!!  The lack of sexual education amongst these students floored me!

Now the A-students were beginning to fidget because this was going waaaay off topic so they were trying desperately to get me back to the lecture, but I felt I had to intervene.  Marketing took a backseat as I felt that education of a different nature would be more beneficial at this point.  I spent the next 15 minutes explaining EXACTLY how you fall pregnant and EXACTLY how to put a condom on, why they shouldn’t use abortion as a method of contraception and the fact that ARVs are not the silver bullet that allows you to live forever.  Sad to say, but I have never had such an interested class and they thanked me profusely when they left, saying that they had actually learned something!!  Just goes to show that sex sells.

My colleague returned well-rested from her fantastic trip abroad and I was more than thrilled to hand the reigns back to her. Looking back, it was hectic but I learned a lot and all in all I had a lot of fun. The students stood to attention and sang happy birthday to me, we shared a lot of laughs together and we got a lot of work done.  I learned from this experience that lecturing full time is not as easy as it seems.  I also was reminded of what life is like with an inflexible job and how miscommunication can lead to a child being left at school for longer than was planned.  But mostly I was reminded to be grateful for the wonderful arrangement I have with the company I work for, as it is home-based which allows me to take a break and give Lettuce a big cuddle and a kiss whenever I want to. PLUS I am blessed to be able to hear his gentle "goy goying" while he goes to sleep – best stress-reliever in the world.