Before I give a not-so-brief recap of what Iowa State University Global Health & AIDS Coalition (ISU GHAC) did during World AIDS Awareness Week (WAAW), I would like to extend my extreme gratitude for all the help and support I have received throughout my short, but wonderful global health advocacy career. WAAW has really culminated that personally for me. I have never done any real community (or university) organizing, nor had ISU GHAC, as it was its first semester as an official organization and about a year of unofficial existence. For the better part of last year, GHAC focused on birddogging, ignoring the aspects of awareness building. Missing that aspect of having the ISU Community aware of global health disparities, we lack the capacity to build political will.
Fortunately, ISU GHAC entered that type of activism during WAAW. We had the events each day: Monday (tabling), Tuesday (tabling), Wednesday (How to Film Survive a Plague), Thursday (Lecture about international AIDS crisis), Friday (Potluck), and Saturday (candlelight vigil). We distributed information about our event through professors, advisers, email to all of across campus, reaching out to interested campus organizations, class announcements, word of mouth, local media, social media, and the attached poster.
On Monday, we tabled outside of the library, informing of future week events and asking campus members 'Why do you care about global health?', which ended up producing this video!
Additionally, an article in the Ames Tribune was released the events of our week, and the Iowa State Daily released a profile of our club! Also, we had a display in the library all week, informing passers by of ways to get more educating about global health! On Tuesday, we tabled, passing out AIDS Awareness ribbons (like Monday), educating people about what budget cuts will do to domestic and global programs for HIV/AIDS, and had people sign a banner as their commitment to creating an AIDS free generation.
On Wednesday, we had our showing of How to Survive a Plague, provided by RESULTS. We had coordinated through the lectures program and student government to get our entire week funded. I remember being so incredibly nervous about turnout. The resounding feeling was that we would have been happy with 30 people, but over 150 people came! It was fantastic. We believe the high numbers was partially because of having certain professors make our lectures extra credit for their respective classes. On Thursday, we had a lecture covering a perspective of the international AIDS pandemic from our club adviser, Dorothy Masinde. She had a great and personal presentation, as she worked in development in Uganda and Kenya during the brunt of the crisis. Ames Tribune did a pre-article with her about her thoughts of World AIDS Day, and the Iowa State Daily covered the event. Like Wed., we were blown away with the amazing attendance of 200+ people! On Friday, we rejuvenated the hard work we put in that week by having a potluck with all the organizing clubs that participated in WAAW. Additionally, we had our op-ed released in the Daily and the Tribune.
On Saturday, we hosted the candlelight vigil. It was a fantastic event with much more modest but still unexpectedly high turnout! Given the foggy weather conditions and the magnificent week that had just passed, the vigil seemed quite surreal, culminating all our experiences and knowledge. We discussed global health and where we plan to move forward with the club. WAAW was a key moment when I realized the enormous potential of community organizing. The fantastic members of ISU GHAC stepped up and delivered a phenomenal week through their ardent efforts.
I hope this may generate some ideas for your own organizing, and it gives you an idea of what we are doing here at ISU. It's all very important to coordinate our advocacy and political will building efforts, if we plan to have an effective national strategy. Please continue to share with us and your respective groups about what you have done lately to continue our efforts! If you would like to follow ISU GHAC, like us on facebook!
Thanks for the reading!
Deepak Premkumar Economics | Iowa State University Global Resource Systems | Iowa State University
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