This week, Grace Tobing, MTV EXIT Youth Ambassador and Founder of Fight BDG, attended and participated in the first annual Students Opposing Slavery International Summit at President Lincoln’s Cottage. She spent a week engaging with human trafficking survivors, modern abolitionists, and fellow anti-trafficking youth activists to gain new strategies and tools to help raise awareness about modern slavery back home in Indonesia. Grace contributed this guest post to the Students Opposing Slavery blog.
What were the major takeaways from the summit?
It’s so hard to choose! Every day I learned something new. From the presentations, I learned what modern slavery looks like in the United States, Europe and Asia. From the speakers and my fellow participants, I got a lot of fresh ideas about what can I do to back in my country. For instance, Fair Girls had us read the lyrics to 50 Cent’s song P.I.M.P and I realized how his words are really promoting human trafficking. I now know that screening the music video is an interesting way to raise awareness but I’ll also ask the audience to read throughout the lyrics so they get the verbal and visual messages. I believe it will be powerful.
Why is it so critical for youth to engage on this issue?
Youth are the most vulnerable but we’re also the most powerful. In the beginning, most of us didn’t realize that human trafficking is all around us and it could happen to anyone. Yet, imagine if young people were working together to end slavery. We could definitely save our friends, communities, and our futures. As I said in my presentation, young people are the futurators! We curate our future, starting now.
You started Fight BDG, an organization to combat trafficking in Indonesia, what are other creative ways young people can get involved in their communities?
In my presentation, I encouraged the audience to think big and start small. It would be so great if they could start their own community organizations here in U.S. Still, if that feels like too much, there are actually a lot of options. There are many websites that have interesting and interactive games about human trafficking or awesome music videos that show us how vivid modern slavery is in our daily life. We can suggest these to friends on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. Big or small, there are different ways to fight against modern day slavery…just make it count!