Why is slavery not dead? Why are human beings still bought and sold and forced into terrible work for often abysmal pay? Why are they forced to work in mines, fight in wars not their own, or sell themselves to faceless consumers? Should humanity not have moved past such a base state of existence? There is hope, however. Conversations about slavery and human trafficking are not as rare as they once were. Modern slavery is being discussed in the open once again. Just last month, three separate groups of University of Oklahoma students made another push to bring this black market into the light.
The month began with an informational symposium called Off the Market which highlighted the terrible reality of human trafficking. Over 100 attendees listened together to speakers and participated in various activities in order to try to understand the plight of these men, women, and children. Off the Market is an annual event that has become very successful over the past few years. Next year, the event will be run by its own student organization, a change spurred by the incredible success it’s seen particularly this year.
Directly after the symposium, a student coordinated art gallery called Beloved opened on campus. The art gallery was filled with pieces looking at human trafficking and society’s perception of it. Each artist wrote out the thought process behind their artwork allowing viewers to gain a window into the issue. The gallery was filled with incredible artwork, most of which was provided by OU students. It was amazing seeing the talent and passion of these students. Their hard work benefitted the Beautiful Dreams Society, a nonprofit that works to rehabilitate women who are attempting to leave the sex industry in Oklahoma City. The gallery was very successful, and I was so glad I was able to attend and meet the artists.
Lastly, I led a team from OU Enactus to host Shining Hope, a fundraiser for No Boundaries International, another nonprofit fighting sex trafficking in OKC. Shining Hope continued with the art theme of the gallery and involved a silent auction of art donated by OU students as well as live music also provided by students. For its first year, Shining Hope was quite successful. We raised over $250 for NBI and laid the groundwork for an even more successful event in the future.
All in all, it was an inspiring month. I loved watching students come together to make a difference. Together we can make a change. Together we can leave this world better than we found it. I hope this trend of young people working to make a difference in society continues. Without my generation coming together like this, no change will ever take place in society. However, together we can change the world. It starts with us. Today.