First of all, a big thanks to Life Options in Grandview, WA for the curriculum for this session! Butsaba and Jay spent most of July translating the AWARE curriculum for 7th and 8th graders and our first outing was a success. Despite the fact that half the kids at the school in Mae Jam were unable to attend, and the power was out so we couldn't use the projector, AND our car broke down on the way up the mountain only 20 minutes into a 3 hour drive, it was still a good trip!
The AWARE curriculum focuses on building healthy relationships so that when teenagers begin to date, they are relying on not just lust and hormones but on the foundations of a solid friendship. The students discussed how to make wise choices by using a game, appropriately titled Wise Choices, that gives them different scenarios and different couple pairings (married, friends same sex, friends opposite sex, dating, engaged) and has the kids discuss whether they think the behavior is a good choice or not, and why they feel that way.
They also learned about how to choose who to let into your life by evaluating whether they have good or bad characteristics. The students had the to chance to creatively express what they considered to be good and bad qualities in another person. Good qualities included loyalty, good listener, and trustworthy. Bad qualities included dishonest, not supportive and gossipy. We also discussed what they wanted the timeline of their life to look like and they were able to set some goals for when they are 18 and when they are 25.
Of course no discussion on healthy relationships would be complete without discussing sex and the repercussions that can happen if you enter into a sexual relationship too quickly. In a country that ranks number one in teen pregnancy (per capita) and with STIs on the rise amongst teens, this is an important topic. Thai culture is traditionally very modest and shies away from discussing sex in a direct and honest manner, leaving most teens to figure it out on their own. This curriculum is not too in your face, so it lets the teachers feel comfortable with us teaching it, but still gives some tangible reasons why it's important to choose to wait for a committed relationship before engaging in sexual activity.
Next time we teach this will be with our friends from Days for Girls in Hua Hin! Watch this video to see what happened after the training: