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Connecticut College Commemorates World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on December 1st every year to honor and commemorate individuals in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year Professor Ginny Anderson’s first year seminar, The AIDS Epidemic in Theater and Film, had the incredible opportunity to host their own World AIDS Day here on campus. Throughout the day students in the seminar were spotted across Conn handing out red ribbons, hanging red balloons, and distributing flyers to raise immediate awareness about the day’s events following Thanksgiving Break.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of World AIDS Day at Conn was the AIDS Quilt shared by Professor Anderson’s first year seminar. The mission to share nine panels of the AIDS Quilt in Tansil Theater was made possible by the generous support of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy in addition to many other contributions. For those not familiar with the the quilt, the piece was originally conceived by Cleve Jones, an early AIDS activist, in 1985. Consisting of over 40,000 panels that commemorate individuals living with AIDS, it is now recognized as the largest piece of community art in the world. It was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and has raised over 3 million dollars for AIDS Organizations in the United States since its inception.

On Monday, December 1, the seminar collaborated with The Alliance for Living, an AIDS resource center in downtown New London, to hold a film screening of Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt in Tansil Theater. With the nine panels as its backdrop the film shared individual accounts of those who passed from AIDS and the loved ones who created their panels. It was really incredible to be able to see something represented on the screen and look to the side and see that very same thing 20 feet from you,” recalls Gabby Schlein ‘18.  Following the screening a brief discussion and reception were held on behalf of the Alliance for Living. Both survivors and leaders from the center spoke on behalf of their experiences battling HIV/AIDS today.

The quilt was open for viewing throughout the afternoon of World AIDS Day, this past Monday, and for further viewing by college and New London community on Tuesday and Wednesday. Experiencing the quilt first hand proved to be an incredibly moving experience for many. As described by Shuhan Zhang ‘18, a student in Professor Anderson’s seminar, “feeling the weight of the quilt and touching the actual texture makes me feel personally relatable to these stories, and value the lives that were lost. I am really proud of what we accomplished over this short period of time.”

Thank you to everyone, both here at Connecticut College and throughout our wonderful New London Community, who came out to share this important day with us. Your support and remembrance truly meant the world.

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