Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm Not For Sale: Slavery Past and Present

The 16th Annual Building Bridges Conference was held Saturday, March 12, 2011, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

The event opened in Christ Chapel with a piece by I Am We Are, a social justice performance group organized by students at Gustavus.

The first of the day's many speakers was Dr. Joy DeGruy, who gave the keynote on her concept of “Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome."

Joy Friedman, Women's Program Manager at Breaking Free, gave a harrowing account of her life as a victim of human trafficking and her role today helping women and girls escape prostitution. 

Alison Kileen spoke on "Interfaith Communities Combating Human Trafficking" on behalf of Minnesota's Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC).  

Suzanne Koepplinger, Executive Director of Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center discussed her organization's research report titled "Shattered Hearts: Commercial sexual exploitation of American Indian women and girls."

I regret I was not able to stay for the entire talk given by Connor Grennan, founder and president of Next Generation Nepal.  The story of his experiences restoring trafficked Nepalese children to their families has been captured in his book Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. 

Likewise, I was unable to hear the talks by James Brewer Stewart or Jennifer Kimball of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, or participate in "the action piece" - a highlight of every Building Bridges Conference. 

Our daughter, Cassandra, worked on the conference again this year (her last at Gustavus).  What a fine program!  We are so proud of her work on issues of importance.


  1. I wonder how history will judge us. It would seem to me that our understanding of slavery and genocide would unite us against it. Yet it is probably just as accepted as it has always been. As long as we can save two bucks on something we want we're OK with de-humanizing our fellow man.

    The veneer of civilization is much thinner than we want to believe. History is evident, why don't we heed it? How far off could a National Socialist German Workers Party be? It seems we are (nearly) ripe for exploitation.

  2. I agree Mo, it's almost scary how history repeats itself if different but similar ways.