Remember when you were in high school and had to take care of a sack of flour for home ec class? That sack of flour was supposed to simulate what it would be like to have a baby and teach responsibility, sacrifice and accountability. Starfish students recently got a taste of that very experience we’ve all had, albeit with a high-tech electronic baby. Check out a Starfish volunteers account of the experience!
Last week, Starfish One by One held its 4th annual two-day Student Leadership Summit. The summit is a time when students from all four of Starfish sites and all the mentors and staff get together to celebrate, share, engage, and even select the Starfish “queen,” the student who best embodies the Starfish values. This year, amid all of the usual chatting, giggling, and singing, there was another sound – the crying of 15 simulation infants.
“The hardest thing about it was that when the ‘baby’ started crying, I wasn’t sure exactly what it wanted,” said one Starfish student (translated, of course!). The simulation infants, provided by Juventud Despierta and PROGRA.JOVEN, local NGOS, were designed to educate teens on what it takes to truly care for an infant.
Norma Bajan, country director for Starfish, reflected that while at home many Starfish students do care for their younger siblings, they don’t always understand what it takes to be a full-time mom. Their moms take care of the little ones when they are sick or get up in the middle of the night.
During the folkloric dance, a highlight of the student leadership summit, all of the babies began to cry. Students had to run out of their positions in the dance to care for the infants. Many students were very upset because they had rehearsed and prepared for months before the dance.
At the end of the summit, the students and their mentors evaluated how they did with the babies by looking at the read-outs on how often the babies cried, how long it took for them to receive care, and how well their needs were attended. Some students were irresponsible with their babies and upset to have to deal with the inconvenience.
“The message is clear: At this age, you just aren’t ready yet to be parents,” said Norma. The activity was fun and engaging, but more than that, gave Starfish students and their mentors a clear experience to reflect on when it comes to family planning and relationships.