NMAC's Building Leaders of Color Boot Camp 2019
About two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend NMAC’s Building Leaders of Color Boot Camp 2019 and it was one of the best experiences of my life! Being surrounded by other individuals of color who are living with HIV and working within the HIV/AIDS field pouring into each other was an experience I will never forget. I built connections and relationships that have already profoundly impacted not only my professional life within the HIV field but also my personal life.
What is BLOC Boot Camp?
BLOC is an intensive three-day boot camp training whose purpose is to increase awareness and competency as well as fine-tune the leadership capacity of up and coming leaders from the People of Color living with HIV (POCLWH) community. Participants learn how to become more formally engaged in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of HIV-related services. Its BLOC’s belief that “together as a community, we can all work towards and achieve the ending of disparities and can end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America.”
What did we learn?
During the boot camp we discussed and learned a wide variety of skills sets from out AMAZING trainers. We discussed intersectionality and really began to discuss the different layers of identity and how they all play apart in the needs of a person. We learned how to view and analyze data as it pertains to the HIV prevalence rates and how to compare them even when the cities or states populations vary greatly in size. We even discussed useful communication skills and tactics that can be used to address issues during meetings in a way that will “call out” the issue while at the same time “call in” the person for input to resolve the misunderstanding or issue at hand.
We also had some very in-depth conversations on the HIV Care continuum and ways we can work together to continue to improve and increate the rates of viral suppression. We discussed the different parts of the Ryan White Program and the services offered in each section/part.
Outside of the structured training, we were able to network and really being to forge relationships with each other. I know that personally, I was able to build relationships that will help me grow not only professionally, but personally. I have a new set of brothers and sisters who not only push me to be the best version of myself, but that understands and supports me. Even in the weeks since the boot camp, I have been in contact them and they are still pouring into me and pushing me to be better and to believe in myself like they believe in.