By migramirez - September 25, 2013

by Taiwo Adesina, MPH Student - TravelGiveWorkLove

Last month, my classmates and I were commissioned by the Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) to assess the increasing teen pregnancy rates in identified areas of Cavite and provide recommendations for sustainable interventions.

With only three weeks to spare, we spent the first completing site visits to the Department of Health, Save the Children, World Vision and other non-profits.

The second week was filled with extensive data collection and the third week was dedicated to data analysis, literature research, writing the final report and presenting our findings.

Along with improved assessment and research skills, I was able to extract the following lessons:

One - Filipinos are a very nice people. Do not eat breakfast. Whether its a visit to the hospital, someone’s office or home, they will offer you food.

Two - The field is great place to see which of your colleagues were actually paying attention in class. Don’t be frustrated if they make mistakes. Teach them. And be willing to take the heat when they call you out too.

Three - Patience is a virtue. Many of the people you seek out to participate in a survey or interview will be more concerned or interested in your skin color, your hair or the fact that you’re from America.

Four - Don’t let focus group participants get too comfortable. They will talk all at once, and not in English.

Five - Tap into the youth for resources and help with navigating the community. They pretend they don’t know anything but they are really a wealth of information.

Six - Don’t speak English too fast, you will be stared at… and it’s always ok to stare back.

Seven - Patience is a virtue. Understanding issues and researching interventions is an extensive process. It may take months or years before a community experiences changes in the unwanted health behavior.

Nine - Make sure your interpreter understands English further than “yes” and “no.”

Ten - Don’t swat the flies, they’ll just come back.  You’ll be wasting your time.

Overall it was an inspiring experience and I hope IIRR is able to do some amazing work with our findings. Now, time to finish what’s left of my masters and get ready for the Peace Corps…