Last Fall I had the honor of writing about human trafficking on this blog. I talked about how this crime occurs right here in Montgomery County. I talked about how I got involved in combatting this crime, locally and globally. I feel lucky to be given the opportunity to share my thoughts with you once again on this challenging and complicated topic. My goal, this time around, is to focus on human trafficking as a global issue, the importance of context, and how students can see for themselves human trafficking in context.
Human trafficking comes in several forms, including sex trafficking, labor trafficking, organ trafficking, child marriage, and child soldiers. Human trafficking is happening on every continent on earth. Men, women, girls, and boys, can become victims of trafficking. The push and pull factors of trafficking, however, look different in different regions of the world. Unstable borders, poverty, gender discrimination, war and violence, government corruption, all play different roles in pushing vulnerable individuals into trafficking situations.
The importance of context is what prompted my colleague, Christine White and I, to design a study abroad course studying human trafficking in context. Since 2016, over 60 students have participated in this program. For approximately two weeks each year, Professor White and I take students to a country to study human trafficking. What types of trafficking can be found? What are the major factors driving trafficking in the country? What makes migrants and citizens vulnerable in that country? What is happening in the region that might make individuals vulnerable to traffickers?
Over the past four years we have traveled with students to Thailand, Cambodia, and Italy. This summer we are thrilled to be traveling to South Africa to study what human trafficking looks like there. From June 24-July 9, students will reside in Cape Town South Africa. Students will work with human trafficking NGO’s, hear lectures on current issues with human trafficking as well as this history of slavery in South Africa. Students will also experience the culture of South Africa, visiting historical sites such as Robben Island, visiting a penguin colony, participating in cooking classes, and hiking the beautiful coast.
The experience of studying abroad has many benefits. As a prior student who participated in our Italy program commented, “[the trip] caused me to broaden my views on the world and to consider other countries’ views on certain situations, such as human trafficking and refugees. This trip was a once in a lifetime experience that will influence me and my career for years to come.”
Students from any University are eligible to apply. All participating students will earn three credits. Interested students can learn more about the program and scholarship opportunities by visiting the program’s website.
Human trafficking is one of the biggest challenges of our time. It is deeply embedded in communities around the world, just as gender discrimination is embedded in cultures, and racism is embedded in policy. This summer, we are giving students a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about this stain on society, to making lasting friendships and memories, and to have an experience unlike any other. We hope you join us! Please feel free to reach out if you would like more information.