Last week, I was able to attend my first United States Conference on AIDS in Washington, D.C as a Social Media Fellow. Aside from waking up early in the morning, it was a great learning experience. I began to realize even more that social media is a powerful tool when it comes to disseminating a message. So many voices, such as my own or an organization’s, can be heard and shared almost instantly.
Each morning, I was surrounded by bloggers, poets, ambassadors, journalists, and directors. The fellowship was spearheaded by Phil Wilson of The Black AIDS Institute who did an excellent job! One of the awesome moments that happened, was that some of the Fellows stayed after Friday or Saturday morning and had conversations on…well…everything. The conversations ranged from gender roles in a relationship and different terms that a lesbian or a gay male might use to describe their sexual position, to sexual health and misconceptions. We streamed the conversation live so others were able to view and comment and even chime in with video from their location. See, how awesome is that?
We talked about a variety of ways to create and inspire new and innovative ways to use social media and how to impact those that have any relations to HIV/AIDS. Some sessions included: Using Social Media at #USCA2015, 5 Tips for Getting Started On Instagram, Making The Most of Twitter, and Positive Spin Roundtable (Using the power of digital storytelling to raise awareness of the stages of the HIV care continuum). All of the Social Media Fellows (including myself) were broken up into different groups. Each day individuals in the groups reported back from a session they attended the day before and what was taken from that seminar/workshop. The importance of this, in my opinion, was to make sure that we are getting the most out of USCA and it seemed as if a lot of us did.
Aside from the Social Media Fellows Program, I had a chance to network with other advocates, researchers, doctors, and executive directors from all across the country. The crazy thing about this experience was that I felt comfortable. Usually when I am at conference I am pretty nervous and let that side get the best of me. I engaged with individuals in line waiting for my vanilla latte at Starbucks (sounds silly but the line was really long), after sessions, and I stayed in for extra conversation with other bright minds.
Overall, I left USCA 2015 feeling very motivated and confident in my ability, as a Communications Coordinator, to take things to the next level.