Written July 1st Last Friday was a good day. I had my first independent opportunity to interact with students in the classroom at PSU. Susan was in Manila, so she let me teach her class for the day. It was an informal gathering in which I had the opportunity to introduce myself and what my project is about. We talked about how we define health, how other groups (WHO for example) define health, and introduced some topics taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I asked the students to speak about health in Palawan, and had them answer some questions about how they get information about health, well-being, medicine, preventative actions and care (such as reproductive or sexual health precautions). I asked about where they or their families, or communities in Palawan go when they get sick, how do they get their health information and what forms of traditional healing do they use and when. I began to notice a pattern as each student spoke up about these questions and informed me of the health concerns of themselves and their peers. Many students mentioned unwanted or “accidental pregnancy” as a very common occurrence among students, disparities in health care, poor nutrition and breathing issues. We ended the session with an activity I call Fear in a Hat, which allows the group to build trust and empathy between one another while simultaneously allowing me to get a sense of issues or concerns about health related topics among PSU students . Basically, I had them write down a fear or concern related to their own personal health or the health of their friends or fellow peers at PSU while remaining completely anonymous. Then we had a couple students pull the papers out of a hat to read it out loud to the class, and describe how they would feel if they were in that position or what the would do. I really enjoy the activity because it gives everyone in the class or workshop an opportunity to voice there thoughts without fear or pressure of judgement. It is interesting because there is a vast gap between the discussions we have during the sessions and the topics written about. I took the rest of the papers home and looked through them as my eyes welled up with tears. Students wrote about multiple abortions, TB, prostitution, and dehydration/malnutrition. An interesting thing that surprised me was the perception of illness and lack of knowledge surrounding basic or general health issues. Many students cited being concerned about dizziness, fatigue, and breathing issues. Others mentioned being afraid of cancer and other non communicable diseases as though they could catch them. Exhausted from the morning, I sat looking out over Honda Bay pondering this fellowship opportunity with ROH and PSU. I realized that the only topics/questions worth pursuing are the ones that are hardest to talk about, because those are the ones that matter most. I feel as though I have many doors open to me in this internship, working with great people, with more freedom than I am used. It is my sense that I will run into a few hurdles as I pull off the band-aid and pick at the scabs of a conservative society struggling to adequately provide for it’s people. We shall see what the following weeks have in store for me and these students!