I celebrated World AIDS Day for the first time this year, and I feel like a better person for it. I organized games and activities for the youth in Tryavna, and things went off without a hitch. Originally, I wasn't too excited with the turnout, but even with a smaller group the project went well. The activities I organized integrated socialization and decision-making skills, and HIV/AIDS information in a fun and interactive way. We started with a game called "Hotel Room Key" which required the youth to imagine being at a party, and exchanging "room keys" with people they enjoyed talking to. What most of them didn't know was that HIV was written on some of the room keys, so as they exchanged keys, they were also exchanging the virus. The purpose of the game was to show the youth that if the right precautions are not taken HIV can be spread just as easily.
The second game we played involved using decision-making skills. The youth were separated into two groups and given one senario. The senario involved an armagadeon-type catastrophy in which only six out of 10 selected people could be saved. The youth had to individually and collectively, as a group, decide who would stay and who would go. The characters in the senario ranged from an elderly priest to a middle-aged prostitute to a homosexual architect. The activity was great because everyone had differing opinions, but, ultimately, they had to come to one conclusion. Each group gave their choices for who would stay and defended their reasoning, and those who disagreed with one or two choices supported the final decision. It displayed the best teamwork I've seen with the youth.
The third game we played was called "Sex Bingo". Each person was given a bingo card with questions about sexual health, and they were required to walk around the room and find people who could answer the questions. The first person to finish won a prize, but since person who won is one of the students I trained in HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention he didn't get the honors of being the winner. Ultimately, the youth gained valuable information regarding sex and sexual health, so they're able to make better decisions.
Next, the youth played a game called "Condom Volleyball" which has been quite a hit in the past. The game required the students to separate into two teams, and while seated, they had to hit an air inflated condom over a net. The catch was that inside the condom was a myth or fact about HIV/AIDS, so the winning team had to pop the condom and answer the statement correctly. An example of a statement is, "You can get HIV/AIDS if a person with HIV/AIDS coughs or sneezes near you." There were twenty-two different statements ranging from easy to difficult, so the game required a lot of thinking and debating amongst team members.
The final game we played was called "HIV/AIDS Jeopardy". Again, this game required the youth to use their knowledge about HIV/AIDS to answer the questions. This game provided more specific information about HIV/AIDS so the youth learned a lot of facts about the virus. Overall, the youth had fun and learned a lot, and they didn't have to do in a classroom, lecture style setting. The games and activities were interactive, in an open environment, which allowed everyone to freely discuss the topic without fear of people criticizing them.
I have to recognize the people who helped make the event a success. My colleagues from CSRI helped organize and prepare the materials needed for the activities, which in turn took a lot of stress off of me. They made red ribbons, inflated the condoms for volleyball, and helped get out the word about the event. I also have to give credit to the youth volunteers that helped and participated in the activities. Evfcho, Koko, Neda, and Petia always come through when I need help, and without them things definitely wouldn't have gone as smoothly as they did. Finally, big thanks to everyone who made the event a success by helping and participating in the event!
In other news from the BG. Thanksgiving was a time for good food and friends. I went down to Haskovo where my friend Marisa and others prepared an amazing feast. It was also a great cultural exchange because Marisa's counterpart and landlady came with their families, so they were able to experience a traditional America holiday with other Americans. Also, on Tuesday I gave a presentation on the topic Health and Hygiene at the B26 In-Service Training in Plovdiv. That was also a great experience for me because I was able to present some activities and ideas I have done in Tryavna, hopefully to inspire some other volunteers to do similar things at their site. I was able to visit some new volunteers I haven't had the chance to meet before so that was nice too.
Well, that's about it for now. The weather has been amazing for the couple of months, with no signs of winter, but as of today I think things are about to change. It was quite chilly today, so I wouldn't be surprised to see snow and ice within the next week. I'll keep my fingers crossed that we get spared at least until after the new year!
Quotes of the Day:
"Look at what you've got and make the best of it. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." - Proverb
"Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible...To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." - 1 Corinthians 9:19, 22 (NIV)
Beats on Repeat:
"Real As It Gets (feat. Young Jeezy)" - Jay-Z
"Christmas Time Is Here" - Diana Krall
Peace, Love, and Understanding...