We asked Conference Coordinator Mariel Boyarsky for her ‘Top 10′ Conference Highlights. It was hard to name only 10, but here’s what she came up with:
- Attending a conference where gender and sexuality issues are front and center – not a side topic during one breakout session, but the real focus! For once, we had an opportunity to hear about diverse issues like comprehensive sex education; health and human rights for trans* people; and violence against women.
- The plenary panel, “Social Justice, Social Activism: Toward a Revolutionary Vision for Global Health.” Every single one of the speakers was inspiring and passionate. Sandeep Kishore’s call for action to support Dr. Vivek Murthy in framing gun violence as a public health issue was the perfect way to end this panel.
Stella Nyanzi, our keynote speaker. She is warm, funny, and brilliant. She truly set the tone for our “uncensored” conference – her talk was brave and revolutionary. Nyanzi noted that it was rare that a young professor from the Global South is invited to give the keynote address at global health conferences in the US and she was excited for the opportunity to share her work.
- The opportunity to hear from undergraduate students on a number of different panels – Katherine Venables, a sophomore involved in USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops) was particularly inspiring. Did you know that USAS has never lost a campaign?? Alejandra Silva Hernandez spoke about her experiences coming to the US from Mexico, integration of queer issues and immigration.
- Every single speaker I got to hear was amazing and inspiring – I loved that we got to bring together so many different people as experts in global health: LGBTQ individuals; people with HIV/AIDS; people from indigenous communities around the world; sex education teachers and researchers; spoken word artists; doctors, anthropologists, epidemiologists, and activists.
- Reading posts by our student bloggers on the www.wrihc.org home page. It’s a great opportunity to find out more about breakout sessions that I missed out on!
- Connecting with speakers, resource fair representatives, poster presenters, and conference attendees on gender, sexuality, and social movements. Close to 600 people attended the conference in various capacities – there ARE people who want to see these themes incorporated into the field of global health!
- Watching the film Call Me Kuchu and having the opportunity to process it with Jessica Stern, Stella Nyanzi, and all of the other conference attendees in the audience. The film is devastating and heartbreaking – yet also uplifting in the vivaciousness and resilience of the “kuchus” – the queer Ugandans in the film.
- Jacque Larrainzar and Monica Rojas performing music during Sunday’s lunch. It was fun, upbeat, and beautiful!
- Visiting the poster session, and the announcement of the winners of the poster awards! Congratulations to Nicolette Dent and Sean Bernfield.