American Exchange Alumni Work Together to Fight Trafficking

Forty American alumni of more than ten U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs came together in Washington, D.C. this month to expand on their experiences disrupting illicit trafficking networks, building resilient institutions and communities, and assisting victims and vulnerable populations. At the Illicit Networks: Preventing and Combating Trafficking seminar, part of the Alumni International Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni TIES) Program, participants collaborated with fellow alumni working within a wide range of fields to combat trafficking in persons, wildlife, antiquities, and other illegal goods and services. 

Through participant-led panels, expert speakers, and other activities, the diverse group of alumni shared their own work, research, and experiences in order to explore new tools and ways of thinking about combating such a complex, multi-faceted issue as trafficking.  The alumni had an opportunity to hear from a number of expert speakers, including three representatives from Polaris, a national and global leader in the fight against modern slavery, and officials from the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law, and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Cultural Heritage Center. 

The multi-generational and multi-disciplinary group walked away from the seminar with new tools and networks to continue engaging in the global effort to combat modern slavery and other illicit trafficking networks. To build on their experience at Alumni TIES, all participants were given the opportunity to apply for up to $10,000 in small grants to implement projects aimed at combating or preventing trafficking in communities across the United States and around the world. 

When asked about the seminar, one Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumna stated, “I learned a great deal from my colleagues and feel newly inspired to delve into ways to better engage with my own community to support potential victims and survivors.”