Etgar 36

Las Vegas – Day 2

– Chase Paskeoff

Viva Las Vegas! We started off this morning with a delightful start at 9:00. We packed our bags, including our laundry, and headed off from Utah into Sin City. The drive was fairly short, however, the 1 hour time change made it seem even shorter than it already was. As we approached Las Vegas, Billy gave us a brief lesson on the history of Judaism and Jewish Gangsters in Las Vegas, which was super interesting to hear. Once we arrived at our hotel, The Orleans, Billy went over a few ground rules about what we could and couldn’t do inside the hotel. The first was that we weren’t allowed to travel around the hotel alone. This hotel differed greatly from our typical stays thus far, seeing as how this hotel had 21 floors compared to the usual 3 or 4 that the others have had. Also, seeing as we are in Vegas, Billy made sure to remind us that there was absolutely no gambling allowed, or any interaction with gamblers as well. What a shame!

After that, we had some time to explore inside the hotel. The sheer abundance of activities to do within the hotel was simply amazing. From the bowling alley to the movie theater, to the arcade, to the pool, the options seemed limitless. My friends and I decided to first head to lunch, where we ate at Fuddruckers. On a completely unrelated note, I would not recommend eating at Fuddruckers if you are ever at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas. Anyway, after we ate lunch, we attempted to navigate around the hotel, however, the vastness was quite overwhelming, so we didn’t get to explore as much as we may have wanted to.

After our bit of free time, we met with our speaker of the day: Scott Fried. Mr. Fried shared with us his experience about being HIV+, and how he has been living with HIV for about 35 years. Throughout the beginning part of our discussion, Mr. Fried shared his story of contracting HIV in the 1980s, and shared what it was like living through the AIDS crisis and how it impacted him. It was extremely impactful to hear him speak so candidly on something that many would view as shameful and taboo even to bring up.

Once our first discussion was over, we broke off into two smaller groups in which we had the opportunity to ask Mr. Fried questions directly. I took this chance to ask him about how he thinks awareness regarding HIV/AIDS is different today than it was ~30 years ago. To my surprise, he answered by saying that he personally has not seen much change and that the stigma surrounding the topic is still prevalent. This intrigued me, as my personal experiences have led me to always think that there is now widespread awareness about the consequences of having sex without using a contraceptive, but I was proven wrong fairly quickly.

Our second discussion began with a simple question prompted by Mr. Fried: “How many of you took a sexual education class in school?” Immediately, nearly each of our hands raised. However, as the questions progressed regarding the specifics of different aspects of sexual education, it was apparent just how little each of us knew. This conversation functioned as a stark contrast to the conversation we had several days ago with Jim Pfaff, as Mr. Pfaff had explained how he opposed the teaching of sexual education in schools. Regardless of personal opinions or beliefs, it was crystal clear that the knowledge that each of us possessed was not as “comprehensive” as many school districts act as if it is. The conversation then shifted to Mr. Fried talking to us about several subjects, including the differences between STDs and STIs, bacterial vs. viral infections, tell-tale signs of the main STIs and STDs, and more. Once we had gone through all of that, our focus narrowed in more onto the subject of HIV. Mr. Fried explained to us the ways you can and cannot contract HIV, which was particularly interesting to me, as I realized how misinformed I had been throughout my educational experience. Our discussion wrapped up with us learning some protective measures we could use when engaging in sexual activity.

After the meeting ended, we again had the chance to explore the hotel, this time for dinner. A similar experience to lunchtime, my friends and I continued to explore, as our indecisive nature prevented us from deciding which activity to choose! After dinner, we hopped onto the bus and headed to the Venetian Resort, where we got to walk around, shop, and observe. Next, we got to look out from the balcony at the Venetian to see Mirage’s Volcano across the street. The show was simply amazing!

The day reached an end, and we went back to the hotel to prepare for tomorrow, our last day in Vegas. They say “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” but the memories from today will surely not be forgotten!