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ECUO, News

School of Speakers: the art of being yourself, not just a “person with HIV”

October 17, 2017

The Estonian Communities Consortium (Estonian Network of PLWH, PIDEst and VEKLGBT) organized the second training of the “School of Speakers, School of Leadership” series aimed at developing communication skills and effective interaction with media representatives for successful advocacy.

The event took place within the framework of the regional program “Partnership for equal access to the continuum of HIV-related services for all who need it” (PARTNERSHIP) implemented by the Estonian Community Consortium with the support of the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO PLWH) and the Global Fund.

“Any activist or just a citizen concerned about the community problems sometimes reaches the point, which they cannot exceed on their own. The school of speakers is a novel learning space for developing speaking skills, holding trainings… Our school is an opportunity to identify the ways of future growth through understanding one’s strengths and motivation. Our common goal is not just to apply the acquired public speaking skills in communication, but to create a resource basis for the future professional development of a community leader, better realize our strengths and weaknesses, increase our efficiency as activists, improve the skills of eloquence, communicating with colleagues and partners, master modern methods of facilitating and managing self-support groups, create our own trainings”, says Lachin Aliyev, the leader of the Estonian Communities Consortium program PARTNERSHIP and the representative of the ECUO PLWH .

Activists of the consortium of communities from all over the country gathered for 2 days in the city of Narva-Jõesuu (Northeast of Estonia) to exchange experiences and develop their communication capacities.

One of the first among well-known HIV activists of the EECA region, Gennadiy Roshchupkin, now the coordinator of community health systems development of the Eurasian Coalition on Male Health, presented the second training of the School of Speakers.

“For the first time I participated in a TV show as an openly HIV-positive person in 1992, followed by many other interviews and talk shows. I still remember it all, and many moments continue to stir strong emotions. I think that my experience of communication with the media gained at that time can be useful to other PLWH activists who are just starting to work with journalists. The school of the Estonian Network of PLWH EHPV gives us the opportunity to be together. This is important, because together we can better understand common problems and cooperate in solving them. Besides, communicating with each other openly and sincerely, we can not only help each other in solving a shared problem, but also to make our human features visible that is, to be ourselves, and not just “a person living with HIV,” says Gennady Roshchupkin to the training participants.

The training’s intensive program included three interactive blocks:

Presentation of personal experience. In this block the facilitator presented his story of participation in the development and filming of the “Theme” program focused on HIV prevention and PLWH. The show was aired on Russian television in 1992. In this section the aspects of public coming-out (reasons, consequences), the purpose of working with the media, security issues for an open-faced HIV-positive person who speaks publicly were considered.

Climax. It was the most controversial and analytical part of the training. Participants were invited to review, analyze the TV program and discuss it. Each of them spoke about the impressions of the material viewed, gave their appraisal of the plot lines of the aired interview, commented on the emotionally engaging parts, analyzed and presented their opinion about the aired show and further development of the advocacy potential from the viewpoint of personal stories.

Epilogue. In the final part of the training, participants practiced storytelling and aspects of effective interaction with the media. In case studies activists of the Estonian Communities Consortium learned how to construct an interesting, engaging story about their situations based on the experience gained at the training. All participants of the training noted that this experience will be useful in further work with the media and advocating for access to the continuum of services related to HIV infection in Estonia.

The first training of the School of the Estonian Communities Consortium aimed at improving the communication skills for negotiating with decision-makers was held in May.

It should be noted that all the advocacy efforts of the Estonian Communities Consortium are aimed at ensuring sustainable access to the continuum of HIV-related services for all who need it in Estonia. The National Plan of the country was developed in pursuit of these goals, engaging representatives from all key communities:

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