Tell us a little about yourselves, what are your interests?
Judy: My favorite subjects are humanities and science. I got interested in social justice last year for my junior capstone project. I researched and proposed my own solution to forced marriage in the United Kingdom. I’ve always been interested in human rights and this particular area really fascinates me. Outside of school, I’ve also organized a Walk for Wishes with the Make-A-Wish foundation in Taipei, my hometown.
Emily: I am a rower and I will continue my sport next year in college. I also have a special interest in the sciences, especially biology and chemistry. Like Judy, I also focused on social justice in my capstone project last year which focused on women’s rights in Afghanistan. I have always been interested in this subject and I am a part of the St. Paul’s Diversity Committee, in which we discuss a range of topics that often includes social justice.
How did you decide to get involved with the issue of human trafficking?
Judy: Every year, our school uses Martin Luther King Day to run multiple workshops on all issues of diversity and human rights. Emily and I were immediately drawn to a workshop on human trafficking planned by Mrs. Daniels, the Director of Academic Support and Head Girls Cross Country Coach here at St Paul’s. So with Mrs. Daniels' help, we invited Cory Smith* of the organization Kids in Need of Defense to come to speak to at our schools about this issue.
What was it about this issue that motivated you to help out? Was there something in particular that resonated with you?
Emily: Personally, I found it extremely interesting and shocking that I had never known a lot of the facts Cory Smith shared with us about how common human trafficking is. Most people are unaware of how large the problem is and how many children are victims. He made us feel like we as students could help by sharing ways we could get involved.
Judy: In preparation for the workshop, Emily and I watched the documentary Not My Life together. It was sad but also a wake-up call to see that human trafficking reaches far beyond what we think of as sex trafficking in less developed Asian countries. We also read articles from local newspapers that portrayed young teenagers getting sold by their parents. It was scary to think that it could be happening in a town right next to ours and to such innocent, young children. I just felt I had to contribute, in whatever way possible. Cory Smith also mentioned how complex of an issue human trafficking is, but that it is possible to attack it from multiple angles. He mentioned that by helping organization like the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence we could fight one aspect of human trafficking and support the victims.
How did you decide upon a bake sale to raise funds?
Judy: A bake sale is fairly cost-efficient and there’s nothing teenagers love more than baked goods as snacks in between classes. We got a group of student volunteers to Mrs. Daniels' apartment and set to baking for the whole day. By the time we were done it was dark out and we were all so surprised! The bake sale was really successful and particularly special for me because it felt like I was advocating for something important.
Will you be staying involved with this or other social justice issues?
Judy: I definitely hope to stay involved with this particular issue in the future. I hope to find an internship this summer where I can work on this. In college, I plan to major in international relations and policy to better help me understand how this works on a global scale and the little changes we can push to better the current situation.
Emily: I will always have a passion for social justice issues and I hope that I will continue to be involved in the future. I am hoping to find some type of committee or club at school next year to try and keep up with the issues.
We think these two young activists will go on to do great things! They prove that anyone can make a difference in big or small ways to help in the movement to end domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking.
*Cory Smith has been a longtime advocate for vulnerable populations by protecting human rights, immigrant rights, civil rights and civil liberties through federal legislation, appropriations and executive branch measures. He currently works for Kids in Need of Defense and was instrumental in crafting improvements to New Hampshire’s human trafficking legislation in 2014.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)
Kids in Need of Defense
Not My Life
A Survivor’s Perspective-by Jasmine Marino
Campus Activism 101: Bringing NO MORE to Your School