February 09, 2006

Asahi.com: a dramatic way to teach about HIV

asahi.com:A dramatic way to teach students about HIV - ENGLISH

Higa teaches at the Okinawa prefectural Shuri-Higashi High School here. Higa became interested in the AIDS issue about 14 years ago and decided to write a classroom instruction guide for other teachers. As he taught the subject over the years, Higa began to think that a dry lecture setting was not the way to impart the immense emotional suffering that HIV brings to people. He decided to write a play with his students. Their first version was produced in 2001, with 40 students, 30 cast members and 10 stage-hands. The play focuses on an individual living with HIV, how that person comes to terms with the threat of developing full-blown AIDS and how society treats him. "Our message aims right at the heart, not the mind, and creates an opportunity for people to understand each other, heart-to-heart," Higa says. It moved the audience so much that, after a performance outside his school, students from other schools who had watched it clamored to join the cast. So Higa decided to make an annual production, using a fresh cast of students from several high schools. He also encouraged the students to update their lines to reflect the current state of the battle against AIDS. The title changes with each new version.

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