(Today’s guest blogger is Elizabeth Sherwin. Elizabeth is a sophomore at Santa Clara University and vice president of the Freedom Project club on campus.)
One week before my 15th birthday my mom took me to a showing of the documentary Call+Response. This documentary shocked me. For the first time I understood the seriousness and gravity of human trafficking. I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. About five months after we saw Call+Response, a friend asked me to help her start an anti-trafficking club at our high school. I said yes, partly because I cared about the issue but mostly because I wanted to support my friend.
As I worked to educate my peers through film showings, articles, and guest speakers, I educated myself. We got involved with organizations including the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, which connected us to various events and meetings in our area.
My growing sense of passion for the FIGHT against trafficking surprised me. Four years ago I would have told you leading the club was just something I did. It was simply an extracurricular activity, like playing tennis or drawing. But all that changed.
The more I learned and began to share my experiences with others, the more my passion exploded. Now, fighting injustice isn’t just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. It involves recognizing something is wrong in the world and taking responsibility to do something about it. I have no idea what my future has in store, but I am certain fighting human trafficking will be a part of it.
I’d like to share a few thoughts about student mobilization:
- First, if you want to fight human trafficking but don’t feel qualified, do it anyway. I never feel like I’m the right person for this job. But I am passionate and I know I have talents and abilities to contribute, and so do you. As young people we have a unique voice in society. People will stop and listen to what we have to say, so take advantage of that.
- Second, get connected. There are so many amazing organizations working to end slavery. Go to events to meet others who share your passion. Or simply go online; many organizations such as International Justice Mission and Not For Sale have resources designed specifically for students.
- Third, never underestimate the power of teamwork. Sometimes I think, “I could make this poster better if I did it myself,” or “why are we even having a meeting? I can just plan this event on my own.” But each time the poster or event turns out ten times better when we work together because others have strengths I don’t. If we want to make a difference, we can’t do it on our own.
- Lastly, do the things that scare you. I have grown the most in situations I did not even want to be in to begin with. Recently I came across the saying, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they probably aren’t big enough.” In high school each time I was asked to speak to a group my instinct was to say no. In front of crowds my face turns red and I shake uncontrollably. Yet to each request I said yes. Why? Because after every speaking engagement came an overflow of opportunities. Not only did I conquer a fear, but I also inspired others to fight injustice.
My biggest dream is to live in a slave-free world without oppression or injustice. This dream seems impossible. In order to achieve it we need everyday people like you and me to stand up and do the things that scare us.
(Student mobilization is a big part of this year’s FIGHT Conference at Mount Hermon. There will be mobilization experts here to help guide you in your FIGHT to mobilize your church, your school and your community. Go here for more information or to register.)