By Nikola Brkljac ’17 (Pancevo, Serbia / Austin, TX)
Have you ever considered the presence, or lack thereof, of reproductive health courses in formal education systems on a global scale?
With the help of three alumni, including Branislav Nolin ’19, Lara Vaskovic ’20 and Mina Grujicin ’20, I decided to organize a five-day seminar in November on the basics of public health and reproductive health designed for high school students. The intention of the training was to help students become peer educators, so that they could spread their knowledge by holding similar presentations about the topic in their high schools and local communities.
Alumni quickly came in contact with KOMPAS (Pancevo’s Creative Youth Center for the Fight Against HIV), a NGO from my home city, Pancevo, with a history of collaboration with alumni in Serbia. They agreed to provide our alumni with the necessary space in Pančevo’s Youth Center, as well as offer certified speakers, volunteers, and materials.
After opening a sign-up form and holding short interviews, alumni gathered 14 high schoolers, ages 16 to 19, from two cities: Belgrade and Pancevo. All who applied wanted to learn more about public health and reproductive health. The sessions included creative workshops, teambuilding activities and sessions on how to detect misinformation, media’s impact on public and reproductive health, and speech and presentation techniques.
All 14 students successfully passed the course, which involved participating in presentations on HIV prevention by local health experts, including Dr. Sladjana Staletovic and Dr. Jovana Naumovic, and passing a final test.
Having passed the course, participants are considered health peer educators and can start holding presentations in Pancevo’s local high schools to spread the word about public health and reproductive health.