The morning of August 17th, saw the kick off of the first IAVI Fellowship Networking Event. Project leaders, Medical Officers and Principal Investigators working in Adolescent HIV Research, came together to network with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation’s 2018 IAVI Fellows. It was a morning of networking games and fun providing a relaxed environment for the leaders of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) to connect with the IAVI Fellows. As the IAVI Fellows are nearing the end of their Fellowship, THE Fellows agreed that it would be a great idea to connect with leaders in the organization and meet them on a more social level.

The morning began with coffee, tea and light breakfast snacks as the group gathered from many Desmond Tutu HIV sites from across Cape Town. Dr Sheetal Kassiem came from Emavundleli, Dr Katherine Gill and Dante Robbertze from Masiphumele, Dr Catherine Orrell from Gugulethu, Colleen Herman and Harley Edwards from Philippi Village and Dr Nadia Ahmed, Dr Linda-Gail Bekker and Social Behavioral Scientists; Elzette Rousseu-Jemwa, Laura Meyers and Head of Mobile Services, Philip Smith from Head Office, Observatory. The guest list also included IAVI Fellow Alumni- Ndumiso Madubela, 2017’s 12 month IAVI Fellow and current UCT PhD Candidate; and Abdulmumin Ibrahim, 2017’s 3 month IAVI Fellow and current PhD Candidate, as examples of where IAVI Fellows progressed to after their fellowship.

Introductions began around the circle with each attendee introducing themselves with their name, position and discussions of the projects they are currently working on. Linda-Gail concluded this introductory session by addressing the power of the connections in the DTHF leadership and the opportunity created by having some of the finest Adolescent HIV Researchers in the room. This followed a game of speed networking, where a row of table and chairs were set up so that each person was sitting across from one another. Everyone was given 2 minutes to engage with their partner over the table until their 2 minutes was up and then one side moved to the next person to engage in another 2 minutes of interaction, and so on. The last activity of the morning concluded with a game of 30 seconds, where the group split into three teams each led by an IAVI Fellow to compete in a game of trivia. This game encouraged engagement and team work within each team and the Project leaders proved to be more competitive than the Fellows.

As the IAVI Fellowship networking event drew to a close on behalf of the IAVI Fellows, Dr Brenda Oulo, 12 month IAVI Fellow, thanked the leaders for taking time to spend with the IAVI Fellows and that she found the networking event very valuable. A concluding remark from the DTHF leadership to the IAVI Fellows was ‘Whatever you do, do what you are most passionate about’. A remark that will resonate with our IAVI Fellows as they seek their next step in their careers.

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