Thursday, December 18, 2008

World AIDS Day Team Tulsa

Monday, we kicked off the first day of a week-long World AIDS Day event at my host agency, The University of Tulsa. With campus wide sponsorship and support, I planned and facilitated a three day testing challenge at which Sam, Erica, and I tested a total of 38 students during lunch over a three day, 12 hour period. Students received free t-shirts for being testing and several professors offered extra credit to students who volunteered at and attended the main even. 
The week ended with an evening dinner and a panel discussion.
I am still receiving phone calls and compliments about the impact of the event on those in attendance. Everyone was really moved by the stories of the guest speakers which consisted of two heath professionals/prominent community members who are both infected with HIV, the regional rep. of the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt (who spoke about the panel displaying fallen Tulsans), and a local doctor working in the field for over 20 years who provides groundbreaking client care to over 350 local HIV patients. 
There was such a surreal quality to the evening, every aspect of this event made this epidemic feel so urgent and important. I was especially moved to see one speaker become emotional when he realized that someone featured on the AIDS Quilt was a very close friend of his. Another speaker shared her story of being infected by her college sweetheart when she was only 21 years old.
Yolanda Arnold
Team Tulsa

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