By Daniel Castano:
Today held many great opportunities that Etgar 36 was able to seize. The day started off very relaxed with plenty of time to get organized on the bus for the big day that stood before us.
We drove for a short while until we reached our first stop at the Food Bank of the Rockies. There, we learned the importance of a food bank in a community and what it does to address food insecurity. In the food bank, we were emotionally moved by the stories of many people that were food insecure, which means that hey don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, don’t have easy access to healthy, good options, or have to make tough financial decisions to ensure that food is on the table. Through these lessons and examples, we as a group felt moved to help the cause and learn more about how we can help end hunger in America in ways other than just donating or volunteering.
After the food bank, we went Naropa University, which is the first and only Buddhist-inspired college in America. We learned about the college’s mission and values, and how everyone there is embraced for who they are. Furthermore, we were told about the friendly envoirment and the liberty offered to all of the students in the college. Shortly after, Max gave us a speech on the Beatnik writers. These people were a group of writers that challenged censorship laws and social norms. They changed the way people are able to view art, read books, and watch movies in a new, free sense.
Later on, we talked to a man named Scott Fried. Scott is an incredible man who shared his story of contracting HIV and had discussions with us on both safe sex and feeling safe to be oneself. Scott didn’t just tell us how he feels and how he would like us to view ourselves, he showed us through his powerful personality and in the way he spoke himself. He also wanted to make sure that if there was one thing to take away from that speech, it was that he wished for all of us to have “the privilege of an elegant life” and to be surrounded by loving people. That quote was powerful, and in scanning the room it was easy to see everyone was thinking about how they should value the important people in their lives and appreciate the life they live and themselves no matter what. Scott also openly talked about how he contracted HIV and took our questions about it, and in his reflection he also talked about the risks that we faced. He taught us about sexually transmitted diseases and infections and how to prevent and deal with them. He also had us practice putting on condoms in a safe way and all the steps involved. We even had a relay race! Towards the end of the day we explored Pearl Street in Boulder and a farmers’ market with many new things to see. After our free time, we went to the movies before starting our overnight bus ride to Salt Lake City!