Friday, February 29, 2008

Hello everyone. There has been a bunch of things going on over the last week with regards to the Africa project. These events are pretty cool because it’s great to have the opportunity to learn more about the situation in Africa, but mostly it is just really exciting because these events remind me that we are actually going to do this in less than 3 weeks. I can’t wait.

Last Monday (February March 24), F&M Alum Dr. Barbara Marston gave a lecture on the HIV epidemic in Africa. The lecture was in the new life science building and a bunch of us soccer players went. She gave some background info on what exactly HIV is, and then talked a little about the treatments available for the virus. She also talked a little about her work for the CDC in Kenya. They’ve been able to have a pretty big impact on the community she is working in, so it was encouraging to see a group have a positive impact on a community like we hope to some day. It was also great to learn a lot more about the virus itself, and drugs used to fight it. It’s pretty amazing that there are drugs that can reduce the amount of HIV in a patient’s blood to an almost undetectable level, but it is scary that certain strands of HIV are developing immunity to certain drugs. If you have any questions about HIV, ask Ryan McGonigle, he managed to stay awake for a good part of the early portion of the presentation, haha. We also got to see some pictures of some very cute lion cubs, which was a real treat as well.

The following day, all the players and some parents coming on the trip with us met in Stager for a little orientation for the trip. First, Dr. Mike Levi, Danny Levi’s dad and one of the nicest guys ever, came and gave a presentation on HIV. This presentation was very informative and was a bit easier to understand than Dr. Marston’s, which was nice for those of us who are not bio/chem majors. Dr. Levi’s presentation was followed by a presentation by Government Department Professor Dicklitch on some of the recent history of South Africa with a focus on Apartheid and the country’s current situation. Professor Dicklitch seems like a real cool professor. It was a good presentation because the country’s history, and its present economic and social position certainly have a lot to do with the HIV epidemic there. To me, the fact that South Africa avoided civil war after the fall of Apartheid is unbelievable.

Lastly, President Fry and Dean Trachte set it up so that the seniors on the team could present before the Board of Trustees on Friday (February 22). The original plan was to have lunch with the Board, and then give them a presentation on what exactly we would be doing in South Africa. Because of the bad weather on Friday, the presentation got pushed back to Saturday morning. Giving a presentation on a Saturday morning is no college student’s dream, but we were excited for the opportunity to tell these heavy hitters about the project we are so excited about. Saturday morning came and the presentation started with an intro from President Fry. I have to say, from everything I’ve heard and experienced, President Fry is the man; so glad that he is our President. He had some unbelievably nice things to say about our team and the project and then turned it over to us. Now, before the intro, President Fry asked senior Chris Walters something to the effect of- “So you think this will be about 15 minutes or so?” Walters just kind of nodded yes. We ended up presenting for at least twice that long, which was definitely longer than they were expecting. Nonetheless, they had a bunch of questions after we presented and really seemed to enjoy the presentation and feel proud for what we are trying to do. Many of them seemed like pretty cool people too; while they were asking us questions one gentleman raised his hand and said, “I just wanted to say sorry for having to move the presentation to this morning (Saturday morning), I know you guys probably couldn’t go out last night.” Haha. But it really is great to feel like the Board is behind us and the project (and if they want to throw out some bills to the cause that wouldn’t hurt either…).



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