For my summer practicum, I am working with the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) to create and present a toolkit on how to detect and prevent human trafficking on college and university campuses.

I have always been interested in the anti-sexual violence movement, starting at UNC Asheville where I went to undergrad. I was able to work with the Center for Diversity Education in creating a presentation on the importance of bodily autonomy on college campuses. This experience catapulted my passion for sexual and reproductive health justice which is what I’m most interested in focusing on professionally at Gillings and after graduating. However, I have never worked in the anti-human trafficking field, so I was nervous that the onboarding experience would be way too overwhelming to turn into a toolkit in such a short amount of time. During my first two weeks, I spent most of my days conducting literature reviews, watching recordings of presentations, and meeting with my preceptor to talk through the several pages of resources. While it was (and still is sometimes) overwhelming familiarizing myself with the history and language, I enjoyed talking through this new material with my preceptor. The anti-human trafficking movement is a very politicized movement and there are disagreements on how to address human trafficking between different types of organizations. For example, sometimes right-wing anti-human trafficking organizations focus on criminalizing sex work, while public health based anti-human trafficking organizations (like NCCASA) understand that victim blaming is harmful and rather focus on outer-layer solutions and prevention models that are more helpful for survivors and community members.

As you can imagine, the topic is emotionally difficult to read about, so self-care is discussed quite frequently at NCCASA. It is really refreshing to experience an organization that takes self-care and mindfulness seriously. I am looking forward to gaining experience working with an organization I admire so much and having these very difficult, and necessary, conversations.

I was also apprehensive of working from home this summer on a project that would benefit to work hands on with other people in NCCASA. I want to make sure that this toolkit acts as a useful resource for NCCASA and other stakeholders, and not just something to check off for a grade at the end of the summer. My preceptor has been so supportive and easy to talk to that I feel really lucky to be able to work with them as they continuously check in to make sure I am getting the most out of my practicum experience, which in turn is helping motivate me to do the work. They have also been really great at making sure I get to meet with important anti-human trafficking advocates who work at NCCASA. While I would love to work in person and directly with the community, I am really grateful to still be able to meet people who work in a field that I find extremely important. Hopefully I get to meet them in person next time!

River, my dog!

River keeping me company on my Zoom meetings.

While working from home has its challenges, I am able to spend time getting ready for my move to Chapel Hill in July (finally!), work outside, and enjoy new coffee shops with friends which has been fun now that I am fully vaccinated!

Sydney (in the MCFH concentration) and I working on our practicum deliverables.

Sydney (in the MCFH concentration) and I working on our practicum deliverables.

I have also been able to take this as an opportunity to dog sit which is the best way to spend work breaks 🙂

River (smiling) and Duce (sleeping) on the garden bed… their new favorite spot.

River (smiling) and Duce (sleeping) on the garden bed… their new favorite spot.

Looking forward to continue truly connecting with this work and with the anti-human trafficking community.