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Day 14-Las Vegas-by Sarah Hallam

Having never been to Las Vegas before, I was not sure what to expect when we arrived. But as the mountains turned into billboards and buildings, I realized that Vegas is exactly what everyone makes it out to be: big, tall buildings and hotels with in-your-face signs and intense heat. When we got off the bus for lunch, the temperature was about 108 degrees, which is nothing like what I am used to back home in Maryland.

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After lunch, we pulled up to the hotel and the group was generally excited to stay at a big shot hotel just off the strip. Our hotel, the Orleans, is modeled after the French Quarter of New Orleans and has bright colors as well as musical elements all over the exterior. We had free time to explore and discover what the hotel has to offer: outdoor pools, a movie theatre, a bowling alley, arcade, and even a chocolate store. When we finished exploring, the group met up to go speak with Scott Fried, a friend of Billy’s, who happens to be a motivational speaker. As Scott started talking, I found myself hanging onto his every word. You could tell how passionate he was by his movements and hand gestures. After the hilarious but heartfelt stories he told, he revealed that he is living with the HIV virus. At this point, I was so lost in Scott’s charisma that I forgot he was here to talk to us about HIV and AIDS, which he most certainly did. But before we spoke about STIs and STDs, he split us up into two groups by gender, talking to us separately about very deep and personal issues we all have, giving some truly inspiring advice along the way.

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Then, as our groups joined back together as one, we began the fun part of the meeting. Scott gave us a thorough lesson in Sex Education. His logic was that school systems around the country do not give kids the proper education when it comes to STDs and contraception, something I completely agree with. So, he spoke a little about STDs and STIs, as well as how to protect yourself from them. But, I think everyone’s personal favorite activity of the afternoon was the relay race. You know Scott is a great sex education teacher when he turns putting condoms on cucumbers correctly into a game. All judgments aside, this is exactly what we did. For the record, the two girls’ teams came first and second.

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Next, we had dinner at the hotel’s all-you-can-eat buffet. Afterwards, we ended the day by walking along the Las Vegas strip. We hit all the big attractions: the Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio fountains, and many others. We were able to explore and shop while getting a very good look at what Vegas really is. Big, flashy, bright, and busy – everything you would expect it to be.

All in all, our first day in Las Vegas was a fantastic one.