Monday, May 9, 2016

Prof Meets Desmond Tutu, Helps Tutu HIV Foundation

A visit last year to South Africa to help with an anti-stigma campaign for the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation this year led to a meeting with Desmond Tutu for Salt Lake Community College English professor Elisa Stone.

Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba (l-r), Elisa Stone and Desmond Tutu - Photo by, Eric Miller

Westminster College associate communication professor Rulon Wood invited Stone last summer to help with the anti-stigma campaign. According to 2014 figures from the nonprofit UNAIDS, about 6.8 million people in South Africa are living with HIV.

Wood and Stone last fall visited Gugulethu and Masiphumelele townships for a workshop that benefitted youth living with HIV/AIDS and to film interviews toward helping erase stigma for those needing diagnosis and treatment for HIV/AIDS. By request of the Tutu Foundation, Stone and others returned to South Africa in April, during which time Stone conducted two anti-stigma poetry workshops and help run an all-day PSA/filming workshop to create anti-stigma videos.

Desmond Tutu greets Elisa Stone - Photo by, Eric Miller

Stone traveled to Cape Town where she watched Tutu and his wife, Mama Leah Tutu, receive a Peace with Justice Award in the presence of all of the archbishops in South Africa. She was also “unexpectedly” invited to have coffee with Desmond Tutu and took the opportunity to give him a bracelet with the “Love, Don’t Judge” motto that she coined for the anti-stigma campaign. Tutu surprised her by autographing a copy of his autobiography. Tutu, known worldwide for his social rights activism, is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

Stone wrote of her experience last year in South Africa for the Spring 2016 edition of the SLCC English Department Service-Learning newsletter Reflections, “As a devoted practitioner of service learning, I am elated and humbled to the opportunity to work toward social justice on a global scale. Lifelong friends from Africa and beyond are my greatest gift from this affirming experience. If you are thinking of trying service learning, to it! Start small, and don’t obsess over obstacles; you never know where the path of civic engagement will take you!”

Elisa Stone gives Desmond Tutu a "Love, Don't Judge" bracelet - Photo by, Eric Miller

Photographer Eric Miller remarked about Stone’s recent meeting with Tutu, “I’ve been photographing Desmond Tutu for three decades. He greeted you like an old friend.”