Thursday, October 27, 2011

USM-USFSP Joint Classroom -- 27 October -- Students Against Slavery

On October 27th, our classes met together as a joint seminar (via videoconference)and learned from speakers from NGOs in Florida that are working to combat human trafficking here and to assist survivors of human trafficking.

First, we heard from a human trafficking survivor who is now President of chapter of Students Against Slavery where she attends law school.

This young woman showed a tremendous amount of courage as she re-lived the horror of her experience and recounted for us how she got trapped into slavery (a terrifying tale that began in a Tampa strip club) and the methods that were used to get her into this situation and to keep her there. While listening to this personal story it became obvious that there needs to be more training of law enforcement and other professionals (e.g., ER staff in hospitals) so that HT can be identified and stopped.

It is estimated that 20,000 victims are trafficked into the U.S. from other countries each year. And Florida is one of the top destinations in the U.S. (along with California and Texas).

However, the survivor who spoke to us is a U.S. citizen who grew up here, went to college here, and in many ways lived a life very similar to the students in my classroom. It really brought the story of human trafficking "home" for us. (Her story also literally brought the story "home" -- insofar as many of the places where she was forced to work were houses right in the neighborhoods where we live.)

This is not a problem that affects only people overseas -- it is a problem that affects all of us.

Several students in my class are interested in starting a chapter of Students Against Slavery on our campus. I'll follow up with more information about the group in a future post.

Students Against Slavery has a facebook page where you can go for more information about the group.

You can also find more information on the website of the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators (IAHTI):

We also heard from Donna Lancaster of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County

Zonta works closely with the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators (IAHTI) and the Clearwater Area Task Force on Human Trafficking. See

We know that there are "more strip clubs than McDonalds in Tampa." While many of the activities that take place in these clubs are legal, the women who work at these establishments often become targets for sex traffickers.

Our speaker talked about how the traffickers find their victims, often as young as Middle School aged girls.

Ms. Lancaster discussed the education, resources, and legislative changes that are needed to combat human trafficking in Florida.

She used the recent Treasure Island case as an example. The arrests were likely made only because the officers received HT training 2 weeks earlier.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

USM-USFSP Joint Class Project -- 20 October 2011 -- LaStrada and PCVs

During our 3rd videoconference (on 20 October 2011), students heard from guest speakers working on combating human trafficking in Moldova.

Presenters included a representative from the NGO LaStrada as well as Peace Corps Volunteers from the U.S.

The LaStrada presentation was very insightful and full of information to assist students as they got their research projects underway.

For more information about LaStrada, see

The students also heard from 3 American speakers, Peace Corps Volunteers working in Moldova. While these volunteers do not work directly with victims of human trafficking, they work on a number of economic and community development projects aimed at prevention (and getting to the root causes that lead to trafficking).

One such program is called GLOW -- Girls Leading Our World -- which has a variety of initiatives all aimed at empowering young women.

You can see the GLOW facebook page for more information:

Girls Leading Our World (GLOW), Moldova
Community Page about Female Empowerment in Chisinau, Moldova

Other Peace Corps Volunteers talked about Moldova TIP, which is designed to inform volunteers of resources that can be used in the villages.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Human Trafficking Assignment -- IAHTI Dinner

On 6 October, several of my students and I attended a dinner hosted by the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators. The event was designed to raise awareness. The 8 speakers did exactly that.

We heard from representatives of faith-based organizations (what churches and NGOs can do to help, e.g., make facilities available to victims), from law enforcement trained in narcotics awareness (and how prescription drugs are used to control victims), from a victim herself (and her efforts with the organization Students Against Slavery), from a special agent with Homeland Security, and also from the leadership of the IAHTI with more about their organization and what we can do to help.

For more about IAHTI, please see

It was an incredibly informative evening, and I am glad so many of my students could attend.

For extra credit, I invited students who attended the event to draft short papers about what they learned from the speakers at the event. Here are excerpts from one student's paper:

"Human trafficking always occurred to me as something that was not prevalent in the United States, or at least not in the picturesque Tampa Bay area. I was especially surprised to learn that human trafficking could so negatively affect a normal, college-educated, American citizen such as me....I learned that Florida has one of the highest instances of human trafficking in the country. The Tampa Bay area makes a prime destination location for human trafficking because of its abundance of resort hotels and strip clubs. I never realized that human trafficking also affected the hotel and restaurant industry. I soon realized that people like me were one of the biggest problems facing the prevention and prosecution of human trafficking. Because many people don't realize what human trafficking is and how frequently it occurs in the United States, they are unable to take the necessary steps to identify and save the victims....This lecture made me realize the importance of the research project that the class is about to undertake...My biggest hope for the project now is that I will be able to educate at least one person as to what human trafficking is and what simple steps can be taken to prevent it."

Here we are pictured with the emcee, Jennifer Holloway from BayNews9.

(I made a donation to IAHTI and ended up winning door prizes! My husband and I promptly used the gift certificate for Cafe Ponte to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary that weekend.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

USM-USFSP Joint Class Project -- Human Trafficking -- 6 October 2011

During our 2nd videoconference, we met to go over the group assignments as well as to discuss our common readings.

Students were broken up into 8 groups; each group includes students from USFSP and USM. The 8 groups will research the following topics:

(1) The role of NGOs and non-profit organizations in combating human trafficking in Florida and in Moldova.

(2) U.S. and Moldova partnerships and coordination with other nations and international agencies and treaties/laws designed to combat human trafficking.

(3) Prevention programs in Florida and in Moldova

(4)Prosecution of human trafficking in Florida and in Moldova

(5) U.S, Florida, and/or Moldovan government agencies responsible for combating human trafficking

(6) U.S., Florida, and/or Moldova anti-trafficking legislation (e.g., U.S. Trafficking Victim Protection Act 2000)

(7) U.N. Protocol against Trafficking in Persons (2003)

(8) Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Begins

Saturday, October 15, 2011

USM-USFSP Joint Class Project -- Human Trafficking -- 29 September 2011

During the Fall 2011 semester, I collaborated with Professor Svetlana Suveica at the American Studies Center at Moldova State University to create a joint project where my students (from Women and the Law) could work together with her students.

The objective of the assignment, as we described in our handout for the students, is as follows:

This group research project will give students from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Moldova State University to work together on research projects regarding human trafficking. We will have several videoconferences with our colleagues in Chisinau/St. Petersburg during the course of the semester. In these meetings we will discuss common readings, hear from guest speakers in Moldova (NGOs and Peace Corps Volunteers) and in Tampa Bay (non-profits, prosecutors, law enforcement officials), hold a conference to present research findings, and enjoy a celebration event at which each student will be presented an edited volume that contains copies of each group’s research paper.

While working on this assignment, students will learn about a wide range of issues related to human trafficking: the role of NGOs and non-profits in combating human trafficking in Florida and in Moldova; U.S. and Moldovan partnerships and coordination with other nations and international agencies and treaties designed to combat human trafficking; prevention programs in the U.S., Florida and in Moldova; prosecution of human trafficking in the U.S., Florida and Moldova, government agencies in the U.S., Florida, and Moldova responsible for combating human trafficking; U.S., Florida, and Moldovan anti-trafficking legislation (e.g., U.S. Trafficking Victim Protection Act 2000), and international responses to human trafficking (e.g., the U.N. Protocol against Trafficking in Persons (2003) and the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings).

In addition to learning more about the issue of human trafficking, this assignment will give students the opportunity to
• foster intercultural understanding through learning and communication
• develop oral and written communication skills through the communication with a counterpart from U.S. and Moldova - across cultures and beyond borders
• make students aware of the interconnectedness of local/regional/global social issues
•expand students’ opportunities in using technology in communication, learning and research
•make students curious and interested in acquiring more knowledge about U.S. and Moldova and their peoples
•make students work virtually, outside homes, outside the country, through an on-line cooperation
•overcome stereotypes about a “privileged” American student in terms of research opportunities, non-academic cooperation, individual and group work
•make students reconsider possible preconceived ideas about big and small countries and the problem these face
•get in contact with a non-academic environment, e.g. NGOs, Peace Corps volunteers that are involved in solving the issues that are explored in the classroom
•make students share and learn from the experience of the other in terms of study and research
•overcome language barriers for those who were not able to communicate with a native speaker

Here are photos from our first videoconference on 29 September 2011. Here you can see the students at the American Studies Center at Moldova State as well as how they looked on the big screen projector in our classroom at USF St. Petersburg.

During this meeting, Professor Suveica and I discussed the research project assignment, and students introduced themselves to each other.

Friday, October 14, 2011

La Multi Ani, Chisinau!

Today is Chisinau's 575th birthday. Wishing all our friends a happy Chisinau Day!

Posting a photo from last year's celebration.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First U.S. Ambassador To Moldova Reflects On Pace Of Change

Radio Free Europe

First U.S. Ambassador To Moldova Reflects On Pace Of Change

On August 31, RFE/RL spoke to Mary Pendleton, Washington’s first ambassador in Chisinau (1992-1995), on the sidelines of an event at the National Endowment for Democracy called "Moldova’s Transition: 20 Years of Challenges and Successes.

See this link for the article: