January 16th was an interesting day at Age Up (as if any other day isn’t). It started off with Mandy laughing hysterically while rolling on the ground. She claimed she was being tickled but I believe that she is just weird. Everyone was setting up tables for dinner and delicious smells were wafting from the kitchen where we had two guests cooks, Lany and Maly, cooking with our amazing kitchen crew. Many of the girls that were already here were all but bouncing off the wall from pent-up energy. That’s what you get when you have school for 7 hours a day! Lisa finally wrangled us into a circle to do introductions, but after the first person, dinner was called and all the girls (myself included) sprinted to the kitchen to form the food line. Dinner today consisted of brown rice, bamboo salad, some yummy eggs, and fried cinnamon bananas (OMNOMNOMNOM). While we ate, we picked up where we left off in our intros. Todays intros had us say our name, gender pronoun, and do a full body move that described our mood/what we were feeling. I pretended I was asleep.
After we finished our food and cleaned up, the woman who was running our work shop, Kriss, put us into a circle to play a game called Common Ground. To play, one player starts in the middle and says their name and “I have common ground with…” and they say something like, “people wearing blue jeans”, “people who drove here today”, or my favorites (even though I didn’t move), “people with awesome younger sisters.” If what the person in the middle said applies to you, you run to another spot in the circle but if you are too late, you get to be the next person in the middle. After we played this for a bit, Kriss would throw in questions like, “I have common ground with someone who knows a friend or relative with HIV.” Using that as a segway, we split up into other small 2-4 person groups to talk about a time we have been or ever seen someone being discriminated against. Talking about those times doesn’t feel that great since it brings up unhappy and sad memories.
Once we were done with that, we grouped up into four bigger groups to discuss and answer four questions: What is a stigma? What do your family or people you know think about HIV? What are some stereotypes about HIV? How are HIV stigmas started? Stereotypes influenced by mainstream culture and media were mentioned.
Following those discussions, Kriss decided to show us a clip about HIV. It had three people talk about being prosecuted for having HIV. One man was sentenced to 25 years in jail and had restrictions such as having no alcohol in the house, being home before midnight, and coming in for monthly polygraph tests. The video sparked outrage and realization within participants. We closed the workshop by sharing what we learned from the session.
After, we divided into our job groups. The facilitation group watched a particularly interesting video on body language. Amanda tripped over the speaker cord causing the speakers to crash to the ground. Wow AGE-UP girls seem to laugh at almost everything.
We ended the evening with a casual check-out before parting.
Alice and Amanda