I joined TeachAIDS this past summer working remotely as a graphic design intern. When I returned to school in the fall I was able to continue my work and become a more integral member of the team through an interface design research course. I am currently a senior studying human-computer interaction, and over the past few years I have therefore taken coursework related to the field. Now in my final year, I have completed so many courses wondering "what was the point?" because I couldn't find any real-world application. I'll admit that I was feeling a bit disillusioned and unsure of the skill set I'd be leaving college with. It wasn't until I joined TeachAIDS, however, that I became fully aware of the power and impact a well designed interface can really have. I am continually in awe of how effectively TeachAIDS has tackled the issue of HIV prevention. Becoming a part of TeachAIDS has been an invaluable experience that has opened my eyes in so many ways.
TeachAIDS has found a seemingly simple solution to a very complex problem. When I first learned of their animated software, I stopped and asked myself why no one had thought of it sooner. They have reworked HIV prevention education so that the content is both culturally appropriate and highly informative. I've learned that everything that goes on behind the scenes is far from simple and only made possible by the team's tireless efforts. What amazes me the most is the entire team's unwavering passion and commitment to the cause. Everyone is so determined to produce the best quality work possible because they believe in it so strongly. While every team member works painstakingly to perfect the minutia of their individual tasks, they are able to do so because they never lose sight of the big picture. It's hard not to feel so driven by work which you know has such a global impact.
I never expected to feel at such an early stage (as an undergraduate) that my work actually matters. Interns are not usually given real responsibility, but my mentors at TeachAIDS encourage me to tackle projects which are important to me but will also serve to further TeachAIDS' overall goals. Our work actually has a lasting impact across the globe, and this truth is both incredibly humbling and inspiring. Although I am an intern and new to the team, I was never made to feel low in the hierarchy. Everyone literally sits and works together like a real team. Everyone's opinions and work are valued, and I am always welcomed to share my ideas. Working with this group and contributing to TeachAIDS' immensely important work has made me much more confident of my abilities and excited for the future.
I cannot fully express how thankful I am to have become part of the TeachAIDS team. It has been an incredible learning opportunity, and I know I will always carry this experience forward with me. I strongly encourage anyone who is looking work that is diverse and has a far-reaching impact to volunteer for TeachAIDS. At first I worried that my varied skill set would not fit their work, but I found my place and I'm sure anyone else with a genuine desire to make a difference can too.
During my first year as a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin in 2012, I was introduced to Piya Sorcer and TeachAIDS through a friend. As I learned more about TeachAIDS, I kept saying to myself, this is amazing work! This is the type of work that I want to be doing! I was initially impressed with TeachAIDS because it embodies many of the things I believe most about public health, international development, and social justice. TeachAIDS empowers people with knowledge. It makes that knowledge available for free to people all over the world in ways that are culturally appropriate and language specific. The material in the tutorials is also evidence-based and easy to understand. TeachAIDS has not let me down, and I am still impressed.
As an intern with TeachAIDS for the past year, I have had the opportunity to work closely with TeachAIDS staff on communication and outreach efforts. I have learned about countless organizations across the world that are using material from TeachAIDS to educate children and adults about HIV and AIDS, and I have been tasked with putting their stories onto paper. I have even had the opportunity to help with content review of the TeachAIDS animations. Additionally, I have contributed to the collection and editing of material related to TeachAIDS celebrity icons.
Writing about the use of TeachAIDS as a tool for public health (and a means to open up a dialogue about HIV and AIDS) has been beneficial to me as a student and as a professional. I have gained insight into how a non-profit organization like TeachAIDs functions, and I learned a great deal about all the detailed steps involved in producing culturally appropriate health-messaging tools. Currently, I am working as an intern from a distance, and much of my work has been independent. Regardless, I still get plenty of contact time with TeachAIDS. I know that I can always email or call with questions.
During my own recent travel, I have had the opportunity to share TeachAIDS tutorials with non-governmental organizations in Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa. Sitting with students while they watched the videos was life changing. In particular, I remember my time in Kenya, where a group of more than 50 secondary students huddled around just one laptop to learn about HIV. After the animation, the students asked insightful questions and together discussed cultural misconceptions about HIV and AIDS. By the end, students were correcting one another about how HIV is transmitted. I was encouraged to see Kenyan youth soaking up such important information.
Most importantly, I have received mentorship and support throughout my internship. I know that my work contributing to the greater purpose and efforts of TeachAIDS. My internship has been a wonderful complement to my studies, and I look forward to working with TeachAIDS in the future.
I started volunteering at TeachAIDS part-time during the spring of my freshman year. That experience translated into a full-time summer internship as the project that I was working on gained momentum and became increasingly crucial for scaling the TeachAIDS software to many other countries/regions. As a sophomore at Stanford University interested in the dual fields of computer science and economics, volunteering at TeachAIDS has provided me with unique opportunities that lie at the intersection of both areas. I was able to use my programming knowledge to help address scaling and size issues in the distribution process.
Unlike traditional software engineering opportunities, the work that I have done at TeachAIDS has a very real global impact. It is incredible and a privilege that as a freshman I could design and build a meaningful software project from scratch where the results of my work could directly impact the trajectory of the organization’s ability to distribute the TeachAIDS software to many new regions. It has been a fantastic experience to meet and work with all of the wonderfully dedicated, motivated, and incredibly intelligent individuals who make TeachAIDS so special. At TeachAIDS people of numerous and varied talents and skills have come together to create important technology that addresses the human condition.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I have had, this past year, to utilize my computer science skills for mass impact in this major global health challenge. The people who I’ve met and the projects that I have worked on have made volunteering for TeachAIDS an incredible experience.
During the fall of my senior year at MIT, I took a Global Health Delivery and Management class at the Sloan School of Management. In that class, we studied how non-profits were improving the health of people around the world and even worked on case studies with specific organizations. After taking that class, I decided to volunteer with a non-profit in China called Fuyang AIDS Orphan Salvation Association during my January term. When I told the Professor (Anjali Sastry) about my plans, she introduced me to Piya Sorcar, the CEO of TeachAIDS. It turned out that Fuyang AIDS Orphan Salvation Association was actually a partner of TeachAIDS.
While volunteering in China, not only did I work on improving the health delivery process, but I also spent several days educating high school and middle school students about HIV. TeachAIDS provided me with highly useful and accessible HIV educational material. The educational videos were not only accurate and informative, but also easily understood by the Chinese students. I still remember several students coming up to me and telling me how shocked they were with all the misconceptions they had regarding HIV. HIV education is severely lacking in many parts of the world and TeachAIDS is one organization that has been able to effectively address this problem with a unique and innovative solution—animated, educational software.
Since then, I have continued to volunteer with TeachAids on a variety of fundraising and research projects. It has been especially eye-opening learning about and identifying various funders and supporters of HIV prevention efforts. Although funding for treatment of HIV is entirely necessary, funding for prevention of HIV will ultimately lead to the end of HIV. For this reason, prevention efforts like those of TeachAIDS are especially critical to curbing continued spread of HIV. I've also actively worked with other volunteers on identifying new countries that TeachAIDS should develop software for. In my last project, I definitely pushed myself to the limits and developed greater skills in strategic planning as I evaluated HIV prevention efforts in a dozen countries and identified possible HIV non-profits and partners in each.
I’m blessed and grateful for the opportunity to work with TeachAIDS. The staff and volunteers are all very passionate and welcoming; I definitely feel like my volunteer efforts have been useful. Even after graduating from MIT, I've still continued to volunteer with TeachAIDS because I believe they are making a meaningful and important impact in the fight against HIV.
The TeachAIDS philosophy that every human being deserves access to excellent HIV/AIDS education is so clear in their every day work. I am inspired by the emphasis the team puts on carefully researching the culture surrounding HIV/AIDS in populations of interest, and the effort that goes into developing a tool that will actually be useful. Millions of people around the world are learning more about HIV/AIDS through the work of TeachAIDS, and it is amazing that an organization this small is affecting change on such a large scale. This is not surprising once you see how effective this non-profit is.
Volunteering at TeachAIDS is hands-on and involved. When I started volunteering as a sophomore in college, I worked on the Kinyarwanda translation as a translator, and soon enough, I was recruiting Kinyarwanda speakers to do the back translation. It wasn't too long till I started communicating with organizations who would use the education materials in Rwanda, and working with different levels of government to make sure these materials are a resource to all. In a short time, I learned so much about the challenging process of making materials accessible to people, as well as the politics of public health, communications etc.
Volunteering at TeachAIDS has given me an opportunity to be involved in really important work, and do so with incredible people. The people I have met in the past ~4 years volunteering at TeachAIDS are the most passionate, thoughtful, and committed. I am so grateful to have been part of a group that so intensely believes in doing good in the world, and doing it well.
While looking for public health internships for the summer, I stumbled across an email about TeachAIDS and its internship opportunities. When I checked out their website I was impressed with their product, mission, worldwide success, and partnerships with internationally recognized organizations and companies. So I contacted the organization and became a volunteer.
As a volunteer, I had the privilege of working on creating TeachAIDS materials for India, Rwanda, and Botswana, the country of my birth. While working on the project I was particularly impressed with the entire TeachAIDS team and research-based design process. The non-profit has a team of dedicated and passionate professionals, field experts, and volunteers. All these talents come together to create medically-accurate, pedagogically-grounded, and culturally-tailored education materials. The organization’s mission is clear: provide communities worldwide with the best HIV/AIDS education materials available. And that’s exactly what they do.
Being a part of TeachAIDS has been an important part of my Stanford career and my personal development. I’ve been truly blessed to be a part of an organization that is revolutionizing HIV prevention and making an impact - in my country and countries around the world.
I joined TeachAIDS as a volunteer in 2010 after learning about the work that TeachAIDS had accomplished in China and India. Several TeachAIDS volunteers, who I later had the opportunity to work with, spoke to an HIV&AIDS seminar course at Stanford about their work. I was compelled by the unfolding of TeachAIDS from the Ph.D. research of the CEO and Founder, Dr. Piya Sorcar, in India. I became interested in the innovative, practical approach the organization decided to take to overcome cultural and legal barriers to educating learners about a taboo topic like HIV&AIDS. From the beginning, I believed in TeachAIDS, both because of the endless positive testimonials I heard from around the world and the rigorous research results I learned about through professors at Stanford University.
It was only when I began volunteering with TeachAIDS that I saw the incredible amount of collaboration TeachAIDS has been able to encourage and the barriers TeachAIDS has overcome in pursuit of an HIV-free generation. The success of TeachAIDS comes from the collective work of Stanford experts, volunteers, and organizations from around the world. Through this collaboration, TeachAIDS produces high-quality HIV prevention education tutorials that are culturally-accessible, medically-accurate, and proven effective. The tutorials use images, references, icons, endorsements, and languages that are suitable for a specific cultural context. Combined with interactive animations, this approach not only teaches learners how to protect themselves from HIV&AIDS, but also increases retention.
I have gained invaluable experience during my time at TeachAIDS and had the opportunity to work with a wide-range of projects. Despite the organization's commitments, volunteers are incorporated into the organization and learn a great deal about the nonprofit field as well as HIV prevention education. I have pursued additional experience in the nonprofit field, and I can truly say that the standards, cooperation, and commitment to maintaining an ethical organizational philosophy are unparalleled. TeachAIDS is truly groundbreaking and the slew of recognition the organization has received reflects the effectiveness of its innovative approach.
To support TeachAIDS will make you a part of an international effort to provide much needed HIV prevention education to the people that need it the most.
Review from Guidestar
In 2009 I had made the decision to take a year off of my normal corporate work and volunteer. I met Piya the founder and Ceo of TeachAIDS and had an amazing experience volunteering in Africa as well as locally. More nonprofits should be run like this - they are very streamline and run like a company with no wast like I have seen in other nonprofits.
I came to TeachAIDS as a volunteer in 2009, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. TeachAIDS is easily the best nonprofit I've worked for, and distinguishes itself due to it's commitment to creating a great product with the help of great people. TeachAIDS holds itself to the highest standard of excellence, and it's rapid growth over the last 5 years is a testament to this standard. TeachAIDS creates a product that is in demand, high-quality, and crucial to the fight against HIV/AIDS and associated taboos. Furthermore, the experience I received by working at TeachAIDS was extremely valuable to my professional development. I've gone from TeachAIDS to a highly-regarded economic consulting firm and plan to pursue medical school. Whether you're a donor, potential volunteer, or ally in the fight against HIV/AIDS, you will find TeachAIDS at the very top of your list.
Review from Guidestar
TeachAIDS is a very unique organization, not only because of its new approach to HIV/AIDS education and prevention, but also because the staff and volunteers are such an incredible group of dedicated, driven, and passionate people. All non-profits and those who work with them are obviously committed to a mission, but TeachAIDS simply takes it to another level. Working with people who are so completely invested in creating and distributing the amazing TeachAIDS materials for FREE around the world has been an education in what it means to truly devote oneself to making a positive difference in the lives of others. Furthermore, all that TeachAIDS accomplishes is done with limited funding and staff—it has been astounding to see what the organization has done despite so little in the way of traditional resources.
TeachAIDS is not only an amazing organization, it's an amazing organization to volunteer for. I have been volunteering with TeachAIDS for almost a year and a half, and I have had the chance to work on projects that volunteers at most organizations would never see. From research and data management, to fundraising, marketing, and product development I have been able to do in-depth, meaningful work with TeachAIDS. I cannot overstate both the professional and personal impact of working with this organization, or how much I have learned from my experiences there.
Truthfully, it's just hard to express how special this organization is. TeachAIDS is different simply because of the work they do, but even more importantly how they do it. I've never seen such meticulousness, dedication to quality and efficacy, and motivation to make a positive change in the world. It has been truly unbelievable to see the impact TeachAIDS is having on HIV/AIDS education around the globe, and I look forward to seeing the organization's reach and influence grow as the TeachAIDS team continues to do impeccable work.
Review from Guidestar
Sometimes we have moments in our lives where we have the opportunity to become a part of something extraordinary. As soon as I began interning with TeachAIDS in 2010, I knew I had found such an opportunity. During my time as a volunteer with TeachAIDS, I have been able to contribute in many ways to their noble, ambitious mission of providing research-based and culturally-tailored HIV/AIDS learning materials free-of-charge to countries all over the world.
As a student interested in a career in medicine, I had an interest in getting involved with organizations that focused on solving medical problems of communities with limited medical access and health education. HIV has always been a very challenging disease, not only because of medical concerns, but also because of the cultural stigma involved in discussing prevention, transmission, and treatment. Without appropriate teaching materials, communities often choose not to frankly address the causes of transmission, even while infection rates climb. For this reason, TeachAIDS fills an enormous need in the effort to provide HIV prevention education to information-starved communities worldwide. Whether planning fundraising events, writing blog posts, or proof-reading teaching materials, participating in TeachAIDS’ successes has showed me that even in areas with medical access, the role of information and prevention in healthcare--not just direct treatment--cannot be overlooked. The success of TeachAIDS’ materials in the education, and perhaps more importantly, the information-retention, of schools and communities is beyond inspiring. It’s definitely worth it to look through all of the research and results provided at their website.
The organization is run effectively, operating with very budget-minded and efficient goal-setting. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t time to form great relationships within the non-profit. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful people and gain many new friends. It has truly been a privilege to be a part of the TeachAIDS family, united with the same humanitarian purpose. I will continue to give my energy to TeachAIDS’ efforts, helping in whatever way I can.
Review from Guidestar
To make a very long story short(er), my experience with TeachAIDS was the biggest influence for me not just wanting to go to medical school, but also to focus on giving back to underrepresented communities. Let me explain a little more about why.
TeachAIDS is an organization that truly puts the mission of getting their wonderful HIV/AIDS educational materials out to as many educators and volunteers as possible. This organization doesn’t put departmental politics in the way of this goal. Since our mission is simple, it’s easy for everyone to get behind it and work quickly and effectively to accomplish our goals. In the year that I was actively volunteering, I saw Ministries of Education from countries all over the world incorporate our materials into their prevention efforts, Indian celebrities donated their likeness and voices to make our materials more contemporary and culturally relevant, and got their materials up and running on YouTube, allowing for millions more viewers to access these videos from not just their computers but also their mobile devices.
This organization showed me both how much work still remains to do in the realm of public health and education. While TeachAIDS focuses on international education, I firmly believe many more organizations and learners here in the states can benefit from these materials. Secondly, I saw how much work TeachAIDS did (and continues to do) with such a small staff and a minimal operating budget. TeachAIDS directly affects the lives of so many people on a budget that’s a tiny fraction of what larger organizations have.
Now that I am in medical school, I am using the lessons of cultural humility, resource allocation, and educational presentations I learned at TeachAIDS to become a more effective future medical provider. I can’t begin to explain how much TeachAIDS has given me and I can only hope that many more passionate volunteers, educators, and donors see the incredible work that TeachAIDS does every day.
I typically don’t write public reviews; however, in this case, I felt compelled to share my story with future volunteers seeking outstanding learning opportunities.
During my 2008 visit to Orissa, India, where my family is originally from, I was shocked to find that HIV prevalence was becoming a growing problem for the communities in this region. So, when I came to Stanford, I started to look for solutions to address this problem. My search ended with TeachAIDS.
TeachAIDS has designed the highest quality products for teaching about HIV prevention. I strongly feel that, just like a child’s math textbook or the newspaper, the TeachAIDS animations are educational and informative works that every person has the right to gain from. Having the backing of Stanford doctors and educators, the materials are a trusted source for accurate and perceptive health information that you really don’t see anywhere else.
Since 2008, I have been volunteering with the nonprofit to adapt and bring these products to India and the rest of the world. For example, during the development of the TeachAIDS animation for Orissa, I had the opportunity to work with Prashanta Nanda, former Minister of State of Orissa and esteemed Indian actor, director, and singer, along with Ira Mohanty, one of the most recognizable singers in the state. Nanda and Mohanty donated their voices for the male and female versions of the TeachAIDS Oriya animations. ‘A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.’ Recording the Oriya version with these artists is that moment in my life! The warmth and support for the work I was helping enable in Orissa made me realize the powerful potential of TeachAIDS.
The nonprofit is a vast learning ground that develops sound educational materials and, at the same time, exceptional human beings, who have the potential to make a grand difference in the world. I have grown professionally and personally at a rate that I consider a success in itself. TeachAIDS has provided me with access to do cutting-edge research on the nonprofit’s animations in Botswana and India, work with famous Stanford professors like Professor Clifford Nass, and speak at global platforms like the 2011 Asia Pacific Advanced Network Conference. Such rare opportunities (for even a Stanford undergraduate) have really helped build my confidence. TeachAIDS has pushed my boundaries and allowed me to rediscover my skills and personality. Everyday brings new learning and challenges, and the office culture is such that I feel free to explore and share ideas. Whereas most of my Stanford undergrad friends are merely relegated to backbone operations in their volunteer opportunities, I feel like an active team member at TeachAIDS.
For all these reasons, I am so happy to have been part of the TeachAIDS family for the past four years. I will continue to volunteer even after graduating from Stanford because being a part of TeachAIDS has been the most fulfilling aspect of my life.
Review from Guidestar
To be honest, I am completely smitten with TeachAIDS. And with good cause. I discovered them whilst searching for jobs/organizations I would readily add to my "has-a-heart-and-soul" list. While I found dozens and dozens of nonprofits also committed to sustainable growth and development, TeachAIDS resonated with me on whole other level. Their meticulous, research-based, culturally sensitive approach to HIV/AIDS prevention education can be likened to nothing I've yet seen! I was privileged to have worked on a number of fundraising and development projects in the past and will forever remain a part of the T.A family in the future.
In addition to the phenomenal work TeachAIDS engages in at the global level (which speaks for itself), I was equally struck by how they operate with such integrity at the local level. Having lived, breathed and worked all things nonprofit for the better part of my life, I cannot stress how important this is!! The very clear "outward orientation" of their work, coupled with a wholesale lack of ego, has allowed for a seamless adoption of TeachAIDS materials in more than 70 countries and counting!
I was not drawn to volunteer on account of the breadth of their work-- plenty of organizations also have an impressive international scope--but because of their unique model of sustainability. TeachAIDS materials are free of charge, licensed through Creative Commons, and help to facilitate meaningful community engagement. Every interested man, woman, or child can obtain, disseminate and implement the materials in a manner best suited for their community. This means TeachAIDS is not a distant 'parent' organization sitting thousands of miles out, determining *what* the implementation process will look like. Simply put, they develop incredibly high quality applications and offer them generously (read: no strings attached) to the world.
If any of this resonates with you, I would highly recommend taking stock of your talents and resources to see if there might be a natural fit. If you're geographically or otherwise limited, perhaps you can at least help to spread the word about TeachAIDS. There are numerous opportunities to speak up for populations who might not have the voice or audience we so freely enjoy!
*This is an entirely unsolicited and honest assessment of my experience with TeachAIDS.
Review from Guidestar