For a student, there is no better way to explore the issue of human trafficking than to go straight to the source. The trip to Thailand with Prevent Human Trafficking and American University has been one of the most intense learning experiences of my life, not only because I was immersed in the subject, but also because I examined it from very different angles by talking with experts and professionals in the field. Throughout the program, the level of access to individuals and facilities was impressive.The quality and breadth of lectures and presentations has been unmatched in the classroom because we witnessed the stories, the research, the problems and possible solutions first-hand. We were able to examine human trafficking and its relation to national legislation, law enforcement, corruption, poverty and migration, globalization, ethnic tension, and local human rights awareness. The experience was sobering, and it dispelled many of the myths and naive views we tend to hold about a very complex and emotive subject.
It was beneficial for me to go to Thailand because I was able to be face to face with the issue of trafficking and put faces to the victims. I was most moved by Khun Ja’s shelter for street children in Pattaya. Meeting these children gave me more drive and motivation to work against trafficking and exploitation. Overall, traveling to Thailand and participating in this amazing program was an excellent opportunity for me to meet the key actors in the fight against human trafficking in Thailand.
I participated in a Human Rights program organized by Prevent Human Trafficking in cooperation with American University’s School of International Service (SIS). My field is cross-cultural and intercultural communication, and this program was an opportunity to learn more about issues that interest me, but are outside of my field of study and teaching. PHT staff went above and beyond to introduce program participants to the key anti-trafficking organizations in Southeast Asia. We met with top government officials, international and regional NGO leaders who provided a global perspective regarding human trafficking, as well as local activists and development practitioners who helped us to understand the realities on the ground.