I am one of the lucky few who attended the IFMSA March Meeting Pre GA. This year’s Pre GA was the largest there has ever been, with a huge variety of workshops and over 350 participants. I was unaware of this when I signed up for it. I had one goal in mind: to attend the first ever Advanced International Peer Education Training (AIPET) in Sexuality.
I have been a peer educator with Sexpression for 4 years and it is no secret to anyone who knows, or has even had a brief conversation with me, that I am passionate about the complex topics of sexual orientation and gender identity. This training looked like somewhere I should be and it was.
After just about finding the room that was going to be our home for the next three days I was jettisoned into everything that is best about peer education training. Our facilitators Joe and Micha are two of the most inspiring and committed people I have ever met. They guided the diverse group through ‘Sexuality: What the f**ck is it?’ in a careful and exceptionally informative way. While ‘Disaster Management’ were learning boring definitions we were increasing our vocabulary too, but instead examining the precise difference between bi and pansexuality.
Through three days of intense and enlightening exercises and training the group I was introduced to on the first day have become people I am honoured to call my friends. Their support was invaluable through both the Pre GA and the GA. I learnt so much from this group and we worked so well together. Whether we were exploring theatre based methods, representing different family reactions to homosexuality, racing each other to come up with many words to define peer education or sharing our deepest secrets anonymously, we attacked the content in the same tenacious and harmonious fashion. A highlight for me was creating a role-play with Tsukasa from Japan about the medical professionals insensitivity to LGBT issues. I had reached the point with these people that we could synthesise our cultural differences, trust each other and create an innovative and effective teaching tool in half an hour!
Although we all came from different situations, had very differing experiences and had very different problems and strengths we became a group who I believe are a powerful force for change in our home nations and internationally. I will be taking everything I learnt back to Sexpression and hope it will heighten and improve our already excellent work.
This training will stay with me for the rest of my life and I feel privileged to have been part of the first ever Advanced IPET. I hope that it continues and goes from strength to strength.
I would like to thank all those who made it so special: Joe, Micha, Sirene, Walid, Maryam, Lotte, Viktoria, Tsukasa, Eriko, Illaria 1, Illaria 2.
If you would like to get a flavour of what we got up to the wonderful Tsukasa made this video: