“On Fridays, I teach a class of freshman girls at Lake View High School about healthy decision-making as a peer health educator for Peer Health Exchange. We address topics like sexual assault, alcohol abuse, and healthy communication. Being a peer health educator is one of my favorite activities on this campus, but it has unfortunately made me realize I really don’t practice what I preach.
The curriculum doesn’t tell the students whether they should or shouldn’t drink but tries to educate them about the consequences of substance abuse so they can make informed decisions. Ever since I started teaching, I have become extremely aware of all the informed choices I make that aren’t healthy. Just because we are informed about a topic doesn’t mean we always choose the better option” (continued here).
This is an excerpt from an op-ed written by Peer Health Exchange Volunteer Ruby Phillips first published in The Daily Northwestern on April 22, 2018. To read it in its entirety click here. Ruby is a sophomore at Northwestern University studying American Studies and History. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She is particularly interested in writing opinion editorials and creative non-fiction after college. This is her first year volunteering with Peer Health Exchange and will be coming back next year. She loves coffee, movies, and teacup pigs! Read below to learn more about Ruby and her inspiration for penning this piece.
What inspired you to write this op-ed?
I was inspired to write this article after I taught at Lakeview one day. We were discussing the dangers of binge drinking and several of my students were wondering why anyone would do that to themselves. Their questions made me reflect on my own experiences with drinking since I have definitely failed to adhere to the standards of responsible drinking that I encourage them to uphold. Beyond this, it made me feel embarrassed to teach lessons when I couldn’t even testify to their success. So I decided to write an article with The Daily, since I have been a columnist for a while, just to explain why this behavior is unhealthy and encourage others to think about their own decision-making processes, no matter how old they are. The lessons I teach in PHE apply to me and my friends too, which I often forget.
What do you like about being a Peer Health Exchange volunteer?
I think my favorite thing about being a Peer Health Exchange volunteer is really being in the classroom. The students I have met are so wonderful and intelligent and hilarious. I honestly get excited to see them every week. They literally never fail to make me laugh. Even more than this, the host teachers I have interacted with have really given me such helpful feedback that has improved my teaching in the classroom and my ability to engage students. They are all so passionate about their students and they just want the volunteers to be accommodating and engaging so learning from the teachers has also been one of my favorite things.