The Global Studies program and End Slavery Tennessee, a local non-profit organization, are working together to educate the campus and surrounding communities on issues in human trafficking. The mission of End Slavery Tennessee is to create a slave-free Tennessee and holistically restore survivors of human trafficking. Each semester, students enrolled in Global Issues in Human Trafficking course volunteer with End Slavery Tennessee through different events and activities.
On Thursday, April 11, 2013, Justin Phalichanh and his students invited End Slavery Tennessee to campus to educate the community in local issues in human trafficking. Dana Garrett Montgomery, End Slavery Tennessee’s Community Educator and the Murfreesboro’s group leader, joined them by setting up an information booth in the Keathley University Center. The booth provided general information on the organization and about local issues of human trafficking in Rutherford County and greater Nashville.
On that same evening, the Offices of International Affairs and Global Studies hosted the third and final film screening of the MTSU Global Studies International Documentary Series 2013. Using social media and the web as a platform for advertising, we connected with other colleges, universities, and various media outlets including: The Murfreesboro Post, the Daily News Journal, Rutherford County’s Chamber of Commerce, The Murfreesboro Pulse, and Now Playing Nashville. Despite bad weather and a severe thunderstorm, over 120 people attended the event. Justin Phalichanh’s students in his Global Issues in Human Trafficking course were able to share with attendees their research. Child laborers in Haiti, forced marriages in India & Nepal, and sex trafficking from California to Tennessee, the students were able to discuss a variety of issues in human trafficking throughout the world. Many of the students had traveled to the regions and areas of their research, which only strengthened their passion to help raise awareness. Raising awareness is important, but the students took it one step further to provide information and resources on how to get involved by highlighting local and global organizations on their leaflets, which can be found here.
Rachel Wilson, professor of entrepreneurship, currently works with her own students by partnering up with Thistle Farms, a social enterprise that is run by the women of Magdalene. Magdalene is a residential program based in Nashville for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. She spoke to the campus and community about how she and her students are raising awareness about local issues in human trafficking. Many of these collaborative efforts are vital to the success of fighting human trafficking.
Our featured guest speaker for the evening was Dana Garrett Montgomery. Dana is currently employed as the Executive Director of the Rutherford County Health Department. She’s worked in public health and community education for more than 15 years. Dana’s passion as a nurse is to educate medical professionals about human trafficking. She recognizes that these healthcare workers have a high chance of encountering victims and that it is therefore vital for them to know the red flags that enable them to recognize victims and get appropriate help. She shared information about a specific case study based in Murfreesboro. The survivor’s story helped humanize a crime that happens all too frequently here in Rutherford County. (You can learn more about this survivor’s painting and reading about her story on ESTN’s blog.) By sharing information about trafficking in Murfreesboro and the surrounding communities, Dana was able to connect the community with even more resources on how to volunteer and get involved in the fight against human trafficking. Visit their web site, subscribe to their e-newsletter, and follow them on Twitter.
The third and final film of the MTSU Global Studies International Documentary Series 2013 was Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. Nefarious is a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery. From the very first scene, Nefarious ushers you into the nightmare of sex slavery that hundreds of thousands experience daily. After the film, we had a brief Q&A session to reflect on the film. We also created a video highlighting MTSU and Murfreesboro’s efforts at shining a light on human trafficking. We look forward to releasing that video soon.
Lastly, on Sunday, April 14, 2013, Jennifer Isenberg led a group of students in a volunteer activity. Jennifer is a senior at MTSU in the Global Studies program and currently interns at End Slavery Tennessee. As part of the organization’s mission, Jen led the group in ESTN’s Door Hanger campaign. The goal is to blanket the entire state of Tennessee with door hangers that contain critical information for the public including red flags for identifying victims, and the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline number to call to get appropriate help. For the latest update on how many door hangers have been placed, please view ESTN’s Door Placement Map. The students and Jen distributed 300 door hangers around campus in Murfreesboro.
Collaborating with End Slavery Tennessee and other community members provides us with the resources and knowledge to assist in efforts of eradicating human trafficking locally and worldwide. The Global Studies program at MTSU will be launching a new internship program that bridges the program and End Slavery Tennessee together. This new internship will strengthen the partnership, as both are focused on educating others on local and global issues in human trafficking. As we continue to work together, we aspire to encourage more students and community members to engage in more discussions, projects, and volunteer opportunities.
- Find End Slavery Tennessee on Facebook and Twitter
- Find MTSU Global Studies on Facebook and on MTSU.edu
- Find MTSU’s Office of International Affairs on MTSU.edu
- Find Thistle Farms on Facebook and Twitter
- This partnership and event’s success is contributed to the collaborative efforts of all parties involved between MTSU, End Slavery Tennessee, the students, and the campus and local communities.