By Cathy Cockrell, courtesy of UC Berkeley
Future physician Maria Garcia-Jimenez was planning a nutrition class for at-risk Latina teens when it became clear, in discussions with her community partner, that the girls had other, equally pressing needs.
Which is how García, 23 at the time, found herself designing an eight-week sex-education workshop.
Health was Garcia’s area of expertise — she’s a medical and masters-degree student, after all, in the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco Joint Medical Program (JMP). Yet it felt like a tall order — earning the girls’ trust, keeping them engaged, being “science-y and factual” on delicate topics like contraception and sexually transmitted infections, all without imposing her own moral values.
“I was pretty anxious,” Garcia says of her mindset as she overhauled her plans.
On a hunch, she decided to rely largely on peer teaching. In one workshop, for instance, the girls worked in groups to identify pros and cons of different contraceptive options,