I have had the opportunity to end my internship by helping at Summer Skillz - a summer school program for Pasadena high school students. As Oasis, we get an hour time slot to explain to students the goals of Oasis and the issue of Human Trafficking. The first half of the program is a power point presentation that runs through different statistics on Human Trafficking, stats from the number of slaves in the world today to who can be targets of trafficking and what we can do about that. Over the last few weeks, we have had different responses from each class. Some seemed to feel like it was a waste of their time, others expressed interest in things they understood (mainly involving the movie Taken). This last week's class was deeply engaged, though, which allowed us to leave with encouragement about coming back for the final week.
Students are always encouraged to ask questions but when you have a topic that they feel does not pertain to them, it becomes rather difficult to capture their attention. It was not until a couple weeks ago when one of the girls in the classroom said, "I know someone like that... She's dirty" that made me realize this is a lot closer to them than they could imagine. I asked this student what she meant and how the girl was similar to what we were discussing. She told me this girl at their school started going off with some guy who would pick her up. They knew what she was doing and that this girl had tried to get another one of their friends to go with her. Thankfully the friend said no, but none of these girls realized one - how close they are to being a part of the statistics and two - how much trouble and danger this girl at their school could be in.
This conversation is what encouraged me to continue talking with these students about trafficking. Given the age range and the socioeconomic class of these students, they are, in some way, connected to the dangers of trafficking. Because of the conversation I had with these girls, as well as the discussions we had this week, I can see proof that we are not wasting our time by being here. The number one important thing, for me, is to help these students be educated on what is going on around them and what they can do about it.
One request we got from one group was to have a survivor share their story. This seemed impossible to me, given how little time there is as well as the details that go in to finding someone who is willing and able. Nancy, one of the Sierra Madre Traffik-Free Community volunteers arrived at Summer Skillz with a packet for me. She told me it was a 20 minute documentary that held two different stories from young girls that had been trafficked. It could not have been more perfect. Rather than doing posters at the end - which has not presented itself as a good idea during any session, we show the video so students can hear the stories from these women and then journal about their response.
No matter how difficult some of the classes have been, I am encouraged to keep coming back because I know this program is going to make a difference, even if that is only for one student.