Student goes to AIDS summit, brings results back to campus

Sometimes an issue touches the heart; sometimes a crisis can change a life.

Such is the case of junior Ebony White, who took up the challenge of representing Eastern at the Student AIDS Summit: A Christian Call to Action at Wheaton College as a result of her compassion for all kinds of AIDS victims.

Last week, White flew to Chicago to sit in on various seminars, speakers and discussions about the role of Christians and the church in the AIDS crisis.

White, along with 300 other students from 40 schools, gathered to figure out what students can do to battle AIDS.

The summit was hosted by Wheaton College’s chapter of the Student Global AIDS campaign.

“I’m excited to come back and share what I learn,” she said.

White believes that stereotypes have a lot to do with why the disease has become so rampant.

“Many people don’t know that AIDS is rising among African-Americans, especially women,” she said

For White, part of the solution to this ignorance is education. “Some may call it the socio-economic divide,” she said, “but the most important step is education.”

“All they know is that you die. Education in third world countries is the key to prevention…in other countries, it is hardest to educate them because of the cultural shift. You have to work within the system,” White said.

White plans to join the Peace Corps when she graduates and go to Africa to help with the crisis.

“I want to be as hands-on as possible,” she said. “I just don’t know where to start.”

She wishes to teach and educate these people as a tool for progress.As for the AIDS situation in America, White said there are many issues of stereotypes to be dealt with.

“In America, we accept AIDS and remain silent because we see people like Magic Johnson living long lives. We must remember there is no cure.”White always had compassion for those with this disease.

“When I think of AIDS, I think of a little boy named Ryan White who I saw on TV who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion and he wasn’t allowed to go to school. I am always reminded of that boy: he continues my interest.”

At the conference, White hoped to find answers to her questions about the church and AIDS.

“What is the stigma that Christians have against AIDS exactly? Why don’t we utilize our churches to educate others?” White said.

White hopes to bring this information back to Eastern so that it becomes accessible and helpful to students as ambassadors of God’s justice in the world.

“Any type of social justice should be the interest of our community. We should be at the forefront and we aren’t.

No one else will make the change in our generation. Students need to step up…or who else will?” she sad.

Before publication of the Waltonian, White sent an email update of her experiences at the summit.

She said in her email that the hardest part of the 3-day conference was Saturday, where a number of speakers shared their personal expericnes with the virus.

“This summit has caused me to pause and rethink things that I had previously considered unquestionable and has also sealed my affirmation that this is a disease that needs to be addressed. I am more convinced then ever that, as Christians, it is our duty to do something.

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