Passionate people are something to be celebrated. We should celebrate ourselves, celebrate one another, and celebrate the fact that somewhere, in some way, we all care. I’ve been realizing this a great deal lately in various ways, but I’d like to share a bit more about a more specific instance. The Wesley Foundation at FIU has now put on two incredibly powerful weeks, one last spring and one this October, to bring about awareness of human trafficking (sex trafficking, specifically) to the students on our campus.
I had the privilege this year of being a part of the Freedom Campaign—seeing it come to be through planning, preparation, and through the actual week itself and all that it entailed. It was a week of creativity, newfound realizations, indignant responses to such a harsh reality, and hopeful pursuits of wanting change. This week entailed so much. We had artwork put up around campus to both draw in attention, as well as inform about the reality of human trafficking. We had speakers come in to talk about what trafficking looked like specifically in Miami, considering it is in the top 3 cities in the United States where sex trafficking occurs. In addition, these women talked extensively on the psychological manipulation associated with trafficking. There was a panel discussion where various individuals (from a representative from the Department of Homeland Security to workers from organizations that work with recovery for survivors) from the Miami community came to share their knowledge and experience about their personal relation to trafficking. There was a day when a survivor came in to share about her personal story of being trafficked in Miami and what she is now doing with her life in response to that. There was a documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, screened to give a more comprehensive understanding of the issue of trafficking itself and what it looks like around the world. There was also an outreach event in which the students were able to gather for a training on what trafficking may look like in relation to prostitution. We were able to go out to various hotels and motels in the area and educate the establishments on what to look for and on how to respond.
The week was chalk full of opportunity for learning and for providing an opportunity for the desire for change to grow. Regan, a woman I work with at FIU-MDC Wesley and the one who had the vision for this week last spring, and I just got back from Imagine What’s Next in St. Louis, which is a conference for young adults involved in collegiate ministries. We were asked to come and speak about the Freedom Campaign and share with all present how we both came to be passionate about this issue and the lives behind it, how the week came to be, as well as the influence that it produced on our campus. It was incredible to be able to share about such a powerful week & to seek to recognize that all of us have our own passions, opportunities, and spheres of influence. We were able to share about our particular experience with the intended purpose of inviting others to call to the forefront their own passions, and to evaluate how those excitements could and should be encouraged. We were able to get excited about the fact that caring about something matters, that recognizing that that care exists matters, and that figuring out what to do with that care matters. Passionate people are something to be celebrated. Something that I tell myself so very often is that simply trying is worth so much. I hope that we can all continue to allow ourselves room to care with intensity and to allow ourselves room to figure out what that can encourage us to try.