04 December 2020

DANCE4LIFE: STORIES

Dance4Life is first of all people that change the world. Each volunteer, each Champion4Life has a story to tell.

ALFREDA. ROSTOV-ON-DON

I am Alfreda and I am a Champion4Life in the Team of Rostov-on-Don.

My path to the title of Champion was not standard and quite interesting.

I study in a medical university already 5 years. I have to remember huge amount of information but besides just “bone up on the subject” I have to understand this information. At some moment at my first year, I realized that I don’t want to just sit with my textbooks, I decided to do something useful besides my studies. So I started my volunteer work, in medicine sphere, of course.

In the Dance4Life Team I am already second year. I came to the Team due to an event dedicated to HIV-infection. I didn’t know much about this disease then, my knowledge was limited with couple of “intimidating” lectures about HIV and some myths, but I wanted to know more. So, from one event to another I started to emerge to this theme, learn more and more. And yes, I went in for it to such extent to become coordinator of the HIV express testing team. I provide testing and consult people on HIV issues together with my team, help to organize events.

How did I become a Champion? I didn’t manage to get to the first training but I have seen guys who came back from the training and realized that I want it as well. I’ve taken part in the Journey4Life and later several times assisted to Champions, delivered a session online. And after that I finally got the training and received a status of Champion4Life. I already trained around 80 Agents4Change and am going to go on.

The project gave me an opportunity not only to become a part of my favorite team but to find and open new qualities inside me, get new knowledge and priceless experience. But the main thing is that I can share this experience and knowledge with a group, help them to open and understand themselves better. And this inspires me to move further.

 

IRINA. NIZHNIY NOVGOROD OBLAST

Dance4Life is about emotions and changes.

The first thing I realized back in 2015 at a training in my city (I am writing this on November 3, 2020, which means exactly 2 days later there will be 5 years in the project). I no longer remember in detail what we did and how the work was organized, I forgot some of the people who were with me at that event. But some flashes of those vivid emotions remained in my memory, I remember that I had fun, and I happily got up at 7 in the morning for all my 5 vacations and hurried there. There I was charged with smiles, atmosphere and blissed out from what was happening.

 

I held out on these emotions for 2 years. During this time, I was at the big regional final in 2016 and I continued to hold and hold events. In my Smetana team, I was the keeper of all the photographs, therefore, I can say that I have visited 11 educational institutions in my city with a project, and maybe more, and somewhere not once. We organized such flash mobs … So many people lit up with us! We brought up topics among our peers that were difficult to talk about with adults. Here are the emotions, that’s what hooked me.

 

In 2017, a new feature appeared. The project has changed. Training for Project Champions starts. I want to, but I’m only 16. It was sad and I had to wait a whole year to finally become one, and it was worth it. In 2018, I dug so deep into myself. I didn’t even know that it was possible to go so deep. I learned to look at everything from different sides, and to adequately assess myself and my capabilities. And that very change began.

Now I began to give emotions and the possibility of changes to others. Now I work not within my hometown, as it was before, but at the regional level.

The most pleasant thing happened during the training of the new Champions 2020, which I was most happy about during my time in the project. The training was attended by a girl from the Journey, which I conducted. Can you imagine? I managed to do the same magic as with me 5 years ago. She said she was here thanks to me. This is my success.

I’ll be back in 2018. In December, I met Tess Payron from Amsterdam. She came to us in Nizhny Novgorod. So, I saw with my own eyes that a person from another country also appreciates the project and makes it better. And I decided for myself that this is the first bell that I can grow further.

Dance4Life is about growth. At first, I was just a volunteer, then a Champion. This year I have already become the mentor of the new Champions. I was also honored to take part in an international meeting, where representatives of all countries participating in the project gathered to exchange experience.

The letter with instructions for entering I received from that very Tess. She probably didn’t even remember that we knew each other, and the form was submitted automatically. But for me it had a different meaning))

The conference was attended by over 70 people from different parts of the world who love what they do. And that’s Dance4Life. It turns out that we have so much in common with them. With people I didn’t know before. After that, how can you not say that the project unites?

I will not dwell on this. Together with the project, I will begin to change for the second time: go online, as it turned out there are so many opportunities for us. Looking forward to a new experience. And maybe in 5 years I will continue this story. I will tell you about my contribution to the development of the project at the national or international level. But what if?)) 

VALERIA. ROSTOV OBLAST

When I entered the university, I realized that I was interested not only in studying, but also in some kind of social activity, volunteering. Therefore, when I found out that there is a recruitment for the “Journey for Life”, I decided to attend these trainings. Then, a year ago, I first heard about the Dance4Life project. I remember those feelings when I came to the first meeting. Probably my main emotion was wild surprise, because we spoke out, no one interrupted us, each participant, even if he did not agree with the position of the other, did not argue, did not try to prove something. I think this was one of the decisive factors why I stayed, went through all 10 meetings and acquired the honorary status of “Agent4Change”. After the training, I realized that something had changed in me. I became more open, I wanted to listen to other people, help them. I learned to boldly express my position, not to be afraid of condemnation. Yes, the Journey opened my eyes to many things.

Meeting with friends who have known me for several years, they say that after the training I seemed to spread my wings. It may sound strange, but it is. When I found out that a recruitment was under way to train future Champions, I did not hesitate for a second. I signed up right away, and then there were sweet months of waiting, which were filled with difficulties and obstacles. All the while, I diligently choked the doubt worm quite successfully. Arriving for training, I realized that these would be the most wonderful days of my summer 2020. I found new friends, and, of course, now I can proudly be called the Champion.

Now I remember training with wild laughter, a smile on my face and trembling in my heart. We spent these 5 days on the seashore, and the sea is plus a thousand to the coolness of the event. How much we danced, laughed and sang. Of course, we did a lot, got tired, sometimes we didn’t understand anything, but our coaches were always there. My favorite is when you don’t understand what is the best way to act in a given situation, you’re waiting for advice, and the coaches beat you on the head like a butt with the question: “What do YOU think?”. At first, I was wildly enraged by this question, but now I realized that this is the whole point. You should do what you want, not someone else.

What did the project give me? Emotions, friends, communication and facilitation skills, knowledge, experience and freedom. I noticed that now I look at many things easier. It became easier for me to communicate; it is easier to talk about some acute social topics. And for this I would like to say thank you to the project and the people who are in it. Guys, you are really just magical, *I brush away a tear of crazy love for you*, I value you. Everyone who lives on this planet – know that you are the greatest value, love and take care of yourself.

 

DMITRY. KUZBASS

I got into the Dance4Life project spontaneously. When I met the curator of the project, with the project itself, I learned about the HIV problem, I became not indifferent to the fate of people. Many people still do not know how HIV differs from AIDS, how the infection is transmitted. And thanks to this project, we talk about these problems and talk with young people on topics that they cannot talk to their friends and family.

When our curator talked about the training of Champions4Life, I immediately agreed to go and undergo training. There was a very cool atmosphere during the training, and most importantly, we ourselves went through the Journey4Life, because until the Champion himself feels the program, emotions, he will not be able to work with the audience.

When I prepared to conduct the Journey for the first time, it was scary. I was afraid, let’s say, of emergency situations, did not know the mood of the guys. But when I walked into the audience to the guys and began to conduct the Journey, I calmed down. Most importantly, I had another Project Champion with me, and I knew that if I did something wrong, he would help me fix the situation.

You know, I am currently doing military service and the experience gained in the project helps me. Thanks to the project, I learned to communicate better with people, became mentally stronger. And now, if I find out that someone from my acquaintances or servicemen has HIV infection, I will not reject them. I will just communicate with them as I communicated. 

 

VALERIA. KUZBASS

I am Valeria Skopintseva.

I have been a volunteer of the Dance4Life project for a little over two years now. During this time, I not only held events, but also met interesting people who share my interests and inspire me to “feats”, became more informed about the problem of HIV and AIDS.

But I came to this quite by accident. I just came.

First lesson. I remember how scary and exciting it was. In addition to me, active guys have gathered here in order to complete the Journey4Life. What was my surprise when I found out that this project is international and unites so many countries! I learned information about HIV and AIDS that I didn’t know before, dispelled myths. In addition, we began to learn a dance that symbolizes the fight against HIV, which is danced in all countries in the same way. Most of all I like the motto of the project: “We will dance until our dance changes the world!”. In addition, I participated in exercises that really touched the soul and made me think.

Then the second, third lessons … It seemed to me that the subsequent lessons would be boring, we would sit like in school at lessons, but I was mistaken. We are constantly doing something, discussing various interesting topics, sharing life experiences or just giving each other advice. I think during this time we have become almost like a family. The journey came to an end, and I stayed. Two years passed unnoticed, more events, more opportunities and impressions. There were often questions “What if I do something wrong? And if I forget it?” But thanks to my mentor and leader, I dealt with this fear of people.

During all this movement, something new, unknown, but so pleasant was born in me.

And the main question: Why do I remain a volunteer? Probably for the sake of all these positive emotions from the fact that you are doing something really important that benefits others.

Volunteering has made me who I am, helped me to overcome my fears, and the project inspires me to lead a healthy lifestyle and take care of my health. But everything was decided just by chance.


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