possibilities or difficult life-and-death decisions? The Human
Genome Project may ultimately mean both.
Oberlin Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian
Studies placed its first intern last summer. Read this firsthand
account of his experiences in Moscow.
new organ takes shape in Finney Chapel. Profile 6 Economist
Gregory Hess and his student research assistant ponder the
relationship between war, economics, and the election cycle.
at Oberlin? Most definitely. A three-hour marathon of student
film shorts last May was just the tip of the growing celluloid
Ann Marie Gilbert inspires teamwork on and off the basketball
Oberlin Orchestra performed at the Getty Center, L.A. under
the direction of guest conductor John Williams.
facts you might be interested in.
Intern Gets On-the-Job
Education at AIDS Infoshare
by Jason W. Prokowiew '01
As the first intern
placed by the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European, and Central
Asian Studies (OCREECAS), the author spent his summer as an intern
at AIDS Infoshare in Moscow. The group is one of the oldest in Russia
to work with outreach and education concerning AIDS and sexually transmitted
difficult finding a niche at AIDS Infoshare; the office was a welcoming
hotbed of activity. The constant challenge was: Where do I put my
time and energy today?
AIDS Infoshare started a project in Moscow in 1998, providing advocacy
and information to sex workers about sexually transmitted diseases,
safer sex, and worker-abuse issues. Hitting the streets twice a week
with Magomed and Timor, two doctors from Chechnya employed at AIDS
Infoshare, I had some of my hardest moments of the summer.
My first time out, we entered a mall on the border of Red Square,
and the doctors began an hour-long conversation with Nadya, who was
in her mid-teens. She was dressed in Gap shorts and a T-shirt and
slung a small jean pocket book over one shoulder. It took me five
minutes to realize she was a sex worker. I hadn't expected sex workers
to look like my nieces -- I expected tall hair, short skirts, bright
Nadya and the other girls were eager to give opinions on the business
and advise us on how we could best help them. One suggested that our
literature could be more specific to the needs of girls entering the
business, who wouldn't benefit immediately from a brochure suggesting
ways they could negotiate safer sex with a client. Indeed, they might
first require literature identifying for them how the business works.
Upon leaving Nadya, we moved to an alley behind a restaurant on Tverskaya
Street, the main road feeding into Red Square. Here, some 20 to 30
girls of all shapes and sizes and dress stood in small groups talking
The doctors and I found a place to stand in the back of the alley.
I was rushed by half a dozen girls, who handed me condoms. "Thanks,"
I said. "Why?" I asked. Magomed leaned in to tell me this was part
of a condom exchange in which the workers gave us the condoms they
were using in ex-change for three condoms we considered to be high
quality. "I think we need a brochure for new outreach workers," I
One of my favorite parts of the summer was talking with the girls
during their down time. They were excited to use English and wanted
to know about the school systems and dance clubs in America. I expected
more intense discussion about STDs and safer sex, but I was largely
useless at first because my Russian vocabulary wasn't inclusive of
the words for various STDs and symptoms. By the time I had some of
these terms under my belt, I had established relationships with girls
based on other things, and slipping into professional talk was easier.
I was outraged on the first day when the buying and selling of the
girls took place. A client would pull up, shining the lights of his
car into the alley. This allowed him to see us, but we couldn't see
him. The pimp and the bodyguards told the girls to line up. The pimp
spoke with the client, and the desired girl or girls were chosen.
And then they were gone. I fumed in my corner, hating everybody there.
For the rest of the day, I did my best to answer simple questions
and distribute condoms. Magomed promised me that outreach grew easier
the more you did it.
In addition to outreach work, I translated pages of material from
Russian to English and helped organize educational conferences. AIDS
Infoshare was established in the early 1990s to share information
and teach people in various organizations to share, rather than hoard,
information. Before I left Moscow, I was helping organize a conference
for exactly this purpose. We aimed to bring down people's internal
During my internship, not a moment went by where the culture, my work,
and even I myself weren't surprising me and making me think in new
ways. I take these as signs of a good internship.
To learn more about OCREECAS and its programs, visit
its web site