Students seek answer to human trafficking

By Andrew Stettler
November 21, 2008

Each year, millions of people around the world are trafficked into slavery and prostitution; 175,000 reaching the United States. Many of these people are children between the ages of 17 and 19 who are misled and forced into becoming sex slaves or labor workers. ECG 100, “Engagement with the Common Good: Our Independent World,” was part of a global video conference, held by Catholic Relief Services, to provide information on this international crisis.

Imagine a world where you could not find a job. You travel to a different state to find a job and eventually find someone who tells you they can find work for you. They have you sign an agreement and tell you it is to prove they are your agent. Hope has finally paid off. This person will find you work and a better life.

Without warning, you are thrown into a taxi with an elderly man. You do not realize it for the next couple of miles; however, you have just been sold into slavery or even worse, prostitution. This is how it happens. This is just one way that parents, sisters, sons and daughters are trafficked into slavery.

“While it might not affect me personally it is the value of human life that propels me to want to understand and help fight these practices,” Jamie Santoro, freshman communication major, said.

Through a partnership between Catholic Relief Services and Cabrini College, ECG 100 was able to watch and ask questions through a global video conference including speakers from Moldova in Eastern Europe, Guatemala and Brazil. The conference engaged the freshman class to understand the crisis of human migration and trafficking, while asking for a solution.

“It inspires you to take all the things that you learn in class and put them it into action in the real world,” Nicholas Guldin, freshman communication major, said. “Every person in every profession can do this.”

Poverty has taken over areas such as Africa and Asia like a disease. Migrating to find work becomes the only way to survive. The desperation to feed one’s family or clear a debt can destabilize the value system of an entire country.

It must be understood that even the traffickers are desperate to make a living and so the core of the problem lies in broken economies.

“The way to measure the success of a government is to see how well that government’s most vulnerable people live,” Dr. Mary Laver, director of international partnerships at Cabrini College, said.

This is not the first global issue that the class has learned about. This year, the students have studied and conversed in a list of issues including fair trade, health care and genocide.

“It is important for people to be educated on these things because that person’s opinion may have a big effect on the world,” Guldin said.

The pilot class of ECG 100 is just one of five sections trying out the new curriculum. This section, taught by Chairman of the Communication Department Dr. Jerry Zurek, is designed to build student awareness toward world issues.

This new breed of a core curriculum for the common good will play a major role in how American college students will view and communicate with the rest of the world for many years to come.

On the subjects Our Independent World has covered, Santoro said in reflection, “Before, they were just events that were outside of my bubble, so it didn’t really matter. Now I see the cause and the effect it has on me and my world.”

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Andrew Stettler

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