One presentation was facilitated by members of the CNMI Human Trafficking Intervention Coalition for juniors and seniors regarding human trafficking, while the other was facilitated by Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence for Freshmen and Sophomores regarding sexual assault.
FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING
President Barack Obama first declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month last year, the first time the issue had ever been recognized at that level. According to his presidential proclamation, “Today, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking. This modern-day slavery occurs in countries throughout the world and in communities across our Nation.”
President Obama added, “During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we stand with the survivors, advocates, and organizations dedicated to building a world where our people and our children are not for sale. Together, let us recommit to a society where our sense of justice tells us that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, where every person can forge a life equal to their talents and worthy of their dreams.”
As part of the CNMI’s observance of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month, Lauri Ogumoro, executive director for Karidat, led a team of presenters from the CNMI Human Trafficking Intervention Coalition who shared a wealth of information on the issue with Juniors and Seniors.
Ogumoro emphasized how important it is to the coalition to raise that awareness. “Each year we’re called to heighten the awareness of human trafficking, and this year we’re trying to make a concerted effort to get to the schools.”
Speaking of her passion for the work that her coalition does, Ogumoro said, “We’re committed to it because when you take in a victim and you see the transformation and they become a survivor, it motivates you to keep going and keep working. It just fuels what you do to see that transformation.”
For senior and student council moderator, Sung Hun Ryu, the presentation was an eye opener. “It really opened my eyes to my surroundings. Now, I see that everyone has a duty to see if anyone needs help.” He added, “We take having freedom for granted, while others are suffering because of human trafficking. But we can make a difference by just being more aware.”
FIGHTING SEXUAL ASSAULT
Maisie Bermudes Tenorio, the executive director for by Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, and her team led freshmen and Sophomores through an activity entitled “In Their Shoes,” which Tenorio said, “is an educational tool we use to teach students, as well as teachers about teen dating violence.”
Tenorio added, “Facilitators guide a students through a simulation where they become one of six teen characters experiencing dating violence and abuse. Students walk ‘in their shoes’ as they make choices about their relationships and move through the scenario by reading about interactions with their dating partner, family, friends, counselors, police, and others. At the end of the simulation, facilitators engage students in a discussion.”
The activity was a powerful one for the student participants. Freshman Kalyn Diaz gained a new perspective from the whole activity. As she put it, “It really surprised me because I’ve never experienced something like that.” She added, “It helps you realize the signs of a bad relationship or what happens to victims like that, so that if you see those signs, you can do something to help.”