From March 20-22 Caution, Red Light Ahead: Shedding Light on Human Trafficking in the U.S. was a weekend Immersion option for Rollins students to engage in. Students were not initially told the location, which ended up being in the Tampa area, so that there was more privacy given the matters being delved into.
Iman Gareebo ’18 reflected on her decision to participate and instructions given to the group on how to identify the signs of human trafficking:
“I decided to do it because it wasn’t really a topic I had explored; I didn’t know much about it, only tangentially. Usually when people think about human tracking, they think about sex trafficking. While the focus in the media is sex trafficking, there is more in the market for labor and domestic trafficking. It was surprising and enlightening; it was never something I consciously thought about. The representative from Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking taught us how to recognize signs in other people so you know they are being trafficked.”
She added, “The way we orchestrated it, we weren’t directly dealing with victims, because that can create issues. You don’t want to ask questions to set them off. You don’t want to alert any traffickers in the area to the fact that people are asking questions. If you are in a situation where it seems like there is a trafficker and person being trafficked, because it’s so volatile, you shouldn’t get too close. You don’t know what the trafficker will do or who else is there. If you are in a situation where that seems evident, you shouldn’t try and change the situation. You are only one person, you don’t know who else is there. There is an anonymous hotline called the National Human Trafficking Research Center Hotline (1-888-373-7888) or the police.”
Danae Zimmer ’15, Critical Media and Cultural Studies Major and participant of the Immersion, has been actively researching Human Trafficking and would like to make her life one that is dedicated to heightening the cause.
She said, “My goal is to be able to work for an anti-trafficking organization to raise awareness and educate people about the true nature of trafficking,” said Zimmer. “It’s vital that the public get their information on the issue from legitimate sources and not over sensationalized ones like from Hollywood movies.”
Michael McFadden, an Immersion coordinator, reflected on the overall experience as a positive one and believes many of the students will go on to research Human Trafficking on their own accord. He said, “The best part of the weekend for me was definitely seeing our participants learn so much so quickly. I was so proud to see how engaged and focused they were when tackling such a difficult topic. It seemed like we had created a group of “mini-experts” in just one weekend!”