Story #2

It is important to keep the group discussion focused on the forum topic.

How might you do this while also keeping in mind that as a bilingual community worker, you play a role in promoting health and wellbeing?

Sometimes it is useful to address issues in the moment, when they arise.

The group has raised a number of issues. Where might you start to discuss these?

You can remind the young people that shisha is not part of the current group discussion but that you are happy to have a chat with them about it later.

This option allows you to keep focused on the group discussion and acknowledges that an important conversation about shisha has been brought up.

This approach provides you with an opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings about shisha smoking with the individuals involved. However, you miss a great opportunity to share some important facts and bust some common myths about shisha smoking with a whole group of young people.

You can focus on the task at hand but tell the whole group that it would be great to have more of a discussion about shisha at the end of the forum.

This option allows you to carry on with the table discussion but also makes it clear to the young people that continuing the conversation about shisha smoking as a group is really important.

By choosing to do this, you can jump on board the opportunity presented and share some important information about the harms of shisha smoking and address some of the shisha myths that were brought up. You can also use this opportunity to brainstorm some ideas as a group for alternative activities to shisha smoking.

This option lets you focus on the task at hand but by letting the conversation pass, you miss an opportunity to discuss the harms of shisha smoking with this group of young people.

Choosing this approach could save you from any lengthy discussions that may occur due to cultural sensitivities. However, you may not get another opportunity to provide information about some of the misconceptions about shisha that have been raised.

You can let the young people know that there is nothing safe about shisha smoking even if it is labelled herbal or organic.

By choosing this option, you can clear up the myths about shisha smoking that were raised straight away. However, you miss an opportunity to talk about culture and point out that culture can be celebrated in many special ways that don’t involve shisha.

You can let the young people know that even though you share similar cultural values, as a community worker, your role is to promote health and wellbeing. You can remind the group that shisha is not the only way to celebrate culture. You can reinforce that the culture is so rich and involves so many other fantastic ways to celebrate.

By choosing this option, you can show that you understand their concern and are able to talk about alternative ways for young people to celebrate culture.

However, it is a missed opportunity to discuss the harms and misconceptions of shisha smoking.

You can tell the group that you share their connection with their culture but that cultural celebration and expression does not need to involve shisha smoking. You can also address some of the health misconceptions raised and share information about the harms of shisha smoking.

This option acknowledges both the cultural and health issues raised by the young people in the group. By choosing to address both, you maximise the opportunity to share a lot of important information with the group.

How could I say this?

At the time:
“Let’s keep focused on the other discussion we are having but I’d love for us all to talk more about shisha at the end of the forum. You’ve brought up some interesting points about shisha and it would be great if I could give you all some more information about that when we have a bit more time.”

After the forum:
“You had a few questions earlier about shisha smoking and I wanted to let you know that shisha smoke contains toxins and is harmful even when it is labelled ‘herbal’ or ‘organic’. I know that shisha is something that young people really enjoy with their friends but sometimes it’s helpful to think about other ways to be together. What are some things you like to do with friends that don’t involve shisha smoking?”

“It’s pretty common to think that shisha that is labelled as ‘herbal’ or ‘organic’ is safe but there are actually heaps of harmful toxins that come from the shisha smoke. I just read that the World Health Organisation found that 45 minutes of smoking shisha is the same as smoking 100 cigarettes!”
“It’s true that lots of us have grandparents that smoked shisha back home. Family and culture are really important to all of us but there are so many other amazing ways that we can celebrate and come together.”
There are several ways you could address these issues. Below are some of the ways that you may respond:
“There are lots of myths out there about shisha but actually, it’s really toxic for your body even when the label says that it’s herbal. There’s heaps of useful information about it on the Shisha No Thanks website. You should have a look.”
“I also grew up with shisha in my family but when I learned how bad it is for your health, I’ve been trying to share the information with others. There is so much research and evidence available now about the harms that wasn’t known in the past.”
“It can sometimes be pretty confusing to know whether or not shisha is bad for you, especially when the labels say things like ‘100% fruit paste’ and when people in your family that you look up to smoke it. But shisha is really unhealthy so it’s good to think about other ways we can be together as friends and family.”
Explore other ways of responding