Home is Where the Heart is


As much as I love Thailand, home will always be where my heart is. Unlike many lucky students, my journey to Thailand was quite a bumpy one. I mean, I did end up going to the hospital four times! BUT, I have to be thankful; no dengue fever. My fortune at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep was right!


As irritating as these hospital visits were, I did get the opportunity to experience receiving medical care in Thailand. When you compare this to the United States health care system, the difference in cost is mind boggling. After four visits to the hospital including medication and lab test, my total cost came up to around $100. If you compare that to services in the US,  it would have easily cost a couple thousand dollars.

This whole getting sick-thing honestly really made me miss home. During the plane ride home, all I thought about was coming home to my mom and my fiance.  It was emotionally satisfying to soak up their warmth and love as they welcomed me home. They are my boat and anchor; sailing me to tomorrow and grounding me to appreciate what’s around me.

Man in a Boat


As I nestle back into my comfort zone, I start to think of all my what ifs and should haves. ‘Oh what if I purchased my zip-lining videos?’ ‘I should have taken more videos!’ ‘I should have eaten more fruits!’

But then I look back at my photos, and realize I did capture breathtaking scenery,  and create lifelong friends that made this trip absolutely worthwhile.

Sunkiss Temple

“A memorable memory”.

“I will go back to Thailand after I graduate from high school, to the place where I was born. It doesn’t matter if it’s a study abroad or travel by myself”, I would always tell myself. I remember it was just a goal I set for myself. A year past, with a blink of an eye I actually make my dream come true. I got the golden opportunity to share my experience to study abroad in Thailand with twenty wonderful sisters and four caring acharn (professors).


Photo credit to Eve Rungrada


Fast forward to three weeks. I remembered vividly the day that we returned back to Minnesota. It was on the Sunday morning at 3:45 am that everybody packed and went down to check out from Ramada Hotel. It was a bittersweet moment because at that moment I am glad that I will be able to see my family again in the states but at the same time I will be leaving a country that has impacted myself so much in just three weeks. I remember we did not eat breakfast like how we usually in the hotel but instead we were given breakfast boxes. As I exited out the doors of Ramada Hotel I look back and said to myself that I will come back to visit this hotel. I sadly walked away and noticed that it was still very dark outside. As I walked to get onto our bus I quickly get on because I don’t want my memories to pull me back not wanting to go home anymore.


It was around 8:40 that we board on China Airlines to Taipei. After 18 hours on three different plane, we finally arrived in Minneapolis. It was around 11:15 at night that we got off the plane and went to claim our luggage. As I got off the plane I feel dizzy and different the moment I stepped my foot in Minnesota soil again. It feels different because of how long I have been away from Minnesota. I remember following the sign with Shengyeng to claim our luggage. As soon as I got to where the luggage claim location is, I saw my two sisters waiting with the biggest smiles that I have see for the first time for 18 years. I remember seeing my parents down in the baggage claim trying to look for my luggage. I have never feel this much love before since I was away.


I have to admit that ever since my arrival back from Thailand I have been having a hard time adjusting to the time in Minnesota. My sleeping schedule has been messed up for about two weeks until I am able to adjust to my normal sleeping schedule. For two weeks straight I will get tired when it’s only 7 at night and then woke up very early like around four and five in the morning. While I was trying to adjust to my normal sleeping schedule I reflect back to what I’ve learn abroad.

I remember the university we visited called Rajabhat University where we were given the golden opportunity to enjoy a meal of the Khon tote style with very friendly students and professors. I remember laughing childishly and happily as I watched the dancing that the students at the university performed. There is nothing more fun than getting the chance to actually physically participate with the performers to a salavon dance. I was a little slow and shy as others were already getting up to participate. As I looked up, in front of me was a student that sat with me and Shengyeng. He said, “come on! Let’s go dance. It will be fun!”.  I slowly stood up and try to follow the lead. It was fun while it lasted.



While abroad I wouldn’t have guess that I will be learning about myself as well as learning about the Thai culture, families, and environment. Before going abroad, I know by heart that I am a little quiet but not extremely quiet. As we stay longer in Thailand I realized I am extremely quiet. I speak very few words and looks bored as everyone is going out at night enjoying themselves. As I am trying to find out more about myself step by step again I figure out that it depends on the people that I hang out with. There are a couple people who shares my similarities which I can bond quicker than some who I still have to learn about them as we participate in activities. It takes time but it works.

Thai people are the happiest people I have seen. They smile a lot. It is hard to tell if they smile because they are mad or if they smile because they are happy.  I can see why Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles. Thai families are quite different from families I see here in America. Thai families help each other even if they are just neighbors. I was very impressed to see this happen when we went to Cooking at Home. The environment in Thailand is quite different from the environment in America. When we first got to Thailand the first thing I feel is the thick air. It was a little bit hard for me to breathe because of how thick the air was. I also noticed there are a lot of trash everywhere. I wonder if the trash is useful to people in Thailand in some ways.

PicMonkey Collage

Today as I am writing this I know for sure that this study abroad trip will not be the last time that I will go to Thailand. A few weeks after we got to Minnesota I have been thinking and come to realized that there are a lot more places that we didn’t get the chance to visit. Therefore, there will definitely be a next time that I will visit Thailand again despite how thick the air is and the trash that is everywhere. I will go and try the fruits and food that I should’ve try, but first I will learn some Thai so I can speak as well as understand.

I will see you soon Thailand!

Mai Mee Lee


NT Blog 3: Missing Thailand


The moment we landed in Minnesota, I felt my body present but my heart was still in Thailand.  I was honestly glad to come back home until I realized how grateful I’d be if the trip was one week longer.  I truly enjoyed my time in Thailand and I learned so much about myself.


Since the beginning, I told myself that I shouldn’t cover up who I was and I should just be myself whether people like it or not.  I was afraid of not making any friends because I can be loud and weird MANY times.  What I learned most about myself was that I like people and I like making friends.  I haven’t made a friend during my first year at the U of M because I am a commuter and worked right away after my classes.  I never had time to meet people.  Coming to Thailand and building these bonds with different people was nice.  It’s refreshing to know that people still accept me (I think).   I learned to appreciate people and their presence.  People weren’t the only thing that I learned to appreciate.  Coming back home from Thailand, I think I have changed to become a better person.  Intentions really challenged me on this trip and I learned that my intentions really does matter.


Prior to this trip, I wasn’t such a good sister and daughter to my family.  I’ve been having personal issues with everyone in my family but this time I came home with different intentions.  I want to treat my family good and not start random problems that are not necessary.  I’ve learned to appreciate my relationships and family as well.

I think if I return Thailand someday, I would like to go with my family so they can experience what I did. No one will understand until they have been in my shoes and felt my experiences.  I’m coming back to you Thailand.

Nina Thao

Thailand, I’ll see you again.


So, I’ve been home for over a week now since my trip to Thailand. Jet lag only lasted a few days and my sleep schedule is mostly back to normal. I even went back to work this week! Honestly, It wasn’t very hard for me to adjust back to my daily routines at home. In fact, it didn’t even feel like I had spent 3 amazing weeks with so many amazing people in multiple places in Thailand.

There was no more packing and repacking of my suitcase to travel to another city, or sweat that stuck to my body as soon as I walked out of my A/C’ed hotel room. No more Nina who laughed at my lame jokes and screamed when I said there was a bug on her. No more pad Thai and fried rice for most meals. Most importantly, no more yummy fruits for such low prices (I bought mangoes a few days after I got home; definitely not the same). Just me in the house that I’ve lived in for 21 years and the noises of my nieces and nephew watching Youtube on their tablets.


A few days ago I went through my pictures to decide which ones I wanted to use for my digital story (I thought it was due today). It was only then that I started to miss everything about Thailand. I started to recall little memories that I had forgotten for a week. The sound of the little creek that ran behind the house that I stayed in for two days in Mae Kampong Village. The dog that would fetch rocks and climbed steep hill sides to get them. The taste of cold water after a long and hot day full of activities. The excitement before devouring a Magnum ice cream bar that I got from Seven Eleven. I remembered the thrill of zip lining through the forest and the pain that I felt during that one station that everyone who zip lined will know what I’m talking about.


I remembered certain places and feelings that I wanted my friends and family to experience with me. When I went to the Grand Palace, I told myself that I would bring my boyfriend there because with his architectural background, he would be able to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the buildings. When I went to the Hmong Village, I wanted to bring my parents there with me. Because seeing them interact with other Hmong people and being able to show me a part of their life was special to them.


I loved my time in Thailand and I don’t regret any minute of it. I would most definitely go back again. I would travel to new places in Thailand and apply what I’ve learned through my past trip to my new experiences. I am so thankful to this experience and am proud of myself for actually following through with it. Thank you to all of the amazing new people that I got to meet, for contributing to my fulfilling experience in Thailand. You guys are the reason why my experience was great.

Thailand, I’ll see you again.



Blog post #2 – Coming Home

Returning home from Thailand for about a week now, I’ve come to reflect a lot about my identity and my surroundings. As I compare my experiences, I am reminded everyday how lucky I am to have a proper toilet, air conditioning, transportation, and an education. I have been telling my friends and family about how coming home from Thailand has transformed my outlook on how I want to lead my life and take care of the people I love around me. Thailand was a true eye-opener for me in appreciating what I have now, and taking advantage of what I have offered to me each day. Visiting my parents made me realize how special small talks are and cooking with my mom in the kitchen again made me realize how special these moments are to me as I continue to learn and reflect on my experiences in Thailand.

My Thailand experience really made me appreciate who I am, and where I come from. I am so glad that I have gotten this experience to learn my family history and appreciate what makes me Hmong. It was also interesting to not feel like a minority in Thailand because it felt like I belonged there. Having a sense of belonging and being able to truly be Hmong in Thailand made me feel more comfortable and have a closer connection to the things we were learning each day. To come back home and be a minority is a little different because I am now questioning if every act or service I get is because of my race in America.

I don’t quite know yet if I would return back to Thailand at this moment, but I am glad I got something meaningful out of this trip as I hoped and anticipated for. Thailand will always have a place in my heart as I move forward. I will always remember the friendships I’ve made a long the way, the struggles, and mindfulness, and the place my ancestors once called home.

Same Same but Different.

06.12.16 – 7:09pm (start)

For three weeks, I was miles away from my comfort zone, naturally doing things the Thai way, struggling with my identity, and slowly appreciating every day of growth from this experience. As I post my photos on Facebook to keep my family and friends updated on my journey, they remind me of how proud they are of me and my accomplishments, but I remind them that I wouldn’t be here without their support.


It’s been a week since I’ve been home and not once have I not thought of Thailand. It’s hard to admit, but I miss Thailand so much! I miss it to the point where I have already looked up possible study abroad opportunities to go back. Although I want to explore different places, there is something unique about Thailand that makes me feel as if my time there was not enough. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just don’t feel right about leaving it and not going back to show what this experience have taught me. The more I think about it, the crazier it is to realize how much a place can have such a big impact on me.



Throughout my daily reflection of myself and my return from my first study abroad trip, the first thing that came to mind was how everything and everybody is still the same but me. I still can’t wrap my mind around it, but I know for sure that I was not the same young lady who just finished her first year of college. Then, I thought of how rushed I feel to get back into the routine I left. I told my best friend, as we try to plan a day to catch up, “On Wednesday I am meeting with our guy friends, Thursday I start work then I have a meeting afterwards, and I am busy this weekend with my family.” I went back to using my calendar to keep up with my life. How do I take my time and not fall behind? How do you live in the moment if your current actions reflect your future? How can I continue my life in Minnesota as if everything is still the same when it is not? As I ponder through these questions, I wished KK, the buddah we talked to in Thailand, was here to advice me because he always knew what to say.

While meeting up with my guy friends, they asked me to tell them the funniest thing that happened in Thailand. I thought about it and my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of any funny moments, only memorable ones. At the time, I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t think of any funny stories to share. It made me think twice about my experience, but then I realized that I didn’t study abroad to have funny moments. I went to learn about Thailand, but I took away more than I could grapple. I discovered a bit about myself, met new friends, and had an experience like no other with the help of my acharns (professors), Thai native mentors, and peers. Although the only obvious change is my tan, I truly believe that something is different about me, but I don’t think I will ever be able to fully explain what that change is.

9 (1)

Until next time,

Choua Lee

06.13.16 – 7:48pm (end)

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking
Nhia, Lindsey, and Anastasia

Human trafficking is a worldwide issue, however it is surprising how hidden the issue can be. As an American, living in a just society, one would think that human trafficking is an issue only a third world country would face. Like every country, the United States also struggles with the issue of human trafficking which includes sexual and labor exploitation. It is only within the last decade that the problem of human trafficking specifically around sexual exploitation has spark up conversation towards political change.

As we end our study abroad trip here in Thailand, I can’t help but think how similar yet different both Thailand and the United States are in terms of their approach towards ending human trafficking. (Nhia)


How are they being trafficked?
Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.06.09 PMEthnic minorities, migrants and stateless people are the most at risk of being trafficked in Thailand. Many trafficked victims come from neighboring countries such as Burma, Laos and China, often facing political persecution or poverty which can unintentionally put them in vulnerable positions for being trafficked. The transfer and exchange of trafficked victims are done primarily within the sub-region of the Mekong River. Trafficking gangs often collaborate with local law enforcements and businesses making it difficult to crack down on the parties involved.

Trafficked victims are invisible to the public. As tourist, we were not aware that children or adults were trafficked and or being exploited until our conversation with our tour guide, Eve. We were advised specifically not to give money to persons performing acts on the street that presenting a certain demeanor because we would be supporting the continuation of their exploitation. It is refreshing to see the level of awareness that multiple organizations are doing to address the problem with human trafficking. Since Thailand’s economy relies so heavily on tourist, part of problem are reducing the demand on sex tourism and cheap labor. (Nhia)


Human trafficking in the Golden Triangle
Human trafficking and sex trafficking have always been something of interest to me. This past semester I was able to learn about the topic in more depth through one of my classes. I was shocked at how close to home human trafficking actually is. I have always heard it can happen anywhere, but it has more of an impact when you can see it or hear about it first hand. It is most prevalent in other countries. What got me interested in human trafficking was a video I watched in my class about human trafficking in the Golden Triangle in Thailand. I was most interested in this topic because of my upcoming study abroad opportunity to Thailand. This is why I have chosen to write my blog about human trafficking and sex trafficking.

First human/sex trafficking is happening everywhere. I will be focusing on the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is distant from any urban metropolis. There are many poor families and the area is rural so there is a lack of education available. Due to this, many families are faced with financial issues. They become desperate and seek ways to provide for their families. Human traffickers will often visit this area with promising futures for daughters and son of the parents who are in need of money. They will usually say something about a better education in another country or a busy city. The parents see it as a win win situation because they are gaining financial stability and they believe their children are gaining a better future. This transaction is common and is unfortunately due to a lack of education and a lack of authority to supervise the area.

IMG_4605To bring it back to my class from last spring, I remember a video about an organization in Thailand that advocates for children who are in danger of being trafficked. In the first minutes of the video, it showed a silhouette of a man who was describing his first encounter with children who were offered to him for sex. He describes how a line of girls filled the room aging anywhere from 10-14. He also states that his friend had been before and continued to pick the same ten year old girl because she was a “nymphomaniac.” This was very disturbing. Coming to Thailand I have learned from P’ Eve and from our friend Maia, at a human trafficking shelter, that the sex industry here is manly used by older men and a lot of tourists come here for that attraction. It is known that human/sex trafficking is popular here because of the ages of the girls. Many pedophiles will come here in search of young men or women who are in the sex industry. In an article from humantrafficking.org they state thatEthnic minorities and women and girls from the northern Hill Tribes are especially vulnerable due to their lack of citizenship.” This is something we have heard throughout our time here in Thailand. I can’t help but ask, why there isn’t more supervision in the Northern parts of Thailand. I also believe more access to education can help raise awareness for this issue. (Lindsey)


Efforts to prevent trafficking and support victim/survivors
While staying in Chiang Khong, we were fortunate enough to be invited by a woman named Maia to visit the Center for Girls (CFG), IMG_4603an organization that works to prevent young girls from falling into the sex trafficking industry in Thailand. CFG–like the Chiang Dao School we visited earlier on our trip–shelters at-risk youth and provides them with education and their basic needs. The children are also able to stay in contact with their families back home. Maia said that CFG follows up with all of the girls who “graduate” out of the program, and it turns out that many of them go on to have jobs in the service industry and some even go on
to university. “We have a pretty good success rate,” she said with gentle pride.

In Minnesota we have some organizations, such as Breaking Free, that address sex trafficking as well. Breaking Free provides shelter, supplies, and support to victim/survivors of sex trafficking, works to eliminate human trafficking by educating the community, and campaigns to decriminalize victims so they can more easily escape and get help if they want it. During our visit to the Center for Girls, I wondered what it would be like to listen to a conversation between the staff from both organizations and hear them discuss human trafficking from different cultural lenses. It would be interesting to learn about their similarities and differences–in victories, strategies, and roadblocks–and see what sorts of inspiration they could draw from each other. (Anastasia)


It can be tempting for some people to assume that human trafficking only affects certain areas of the world, parts that are perceived to be less developed. However the truth is that it affects us all. While trafficking may vary in its visibility from place to place, the trauma of victims, their families, and communities have the same taste, no matter where they come from. The knowledge, emotions, and observations we have gathered in Thailand are applicable to the problems we face in Minnesota, and through this experience, I feel that we are in a better position to be able to serve and protect the people in our own neighborhoods. (Anastasia)

Project – Human Interactions with the Natural Environment

Madison Jaschke and Maria Keeler

The natural environment of Thailand is vibrant, abundant and filled with patient energy. In order to understand and preserve that natural environment, focus cannot solely be placed on one area. Instead, it requires analysis encompassing nature’s interactions with humans. For example, an economy’s infrastructure and initiatives as well as community attitudes and knowledge affect the degree of exploitation for natural resources.

As a duo, Maria and Madison, we will address the human interactions influencing the Mekong River based on conversations with Director Krutee and Pe-Chak of the Mekong School in Chiang Khong. Among others, these men have dedicated themselves to spreading local knowledge about the river. We were moved by their passion for this Mother River, the 10th longest river in the world. It spans from southern China through 6 countries, finally flowing into the South China Sea. Over 70 million people are connected to the river, with many different ethnic communities and perspectives. The mighty Mekong River used to have a natural flow, whether it was the dry season that decreased the water level and provided nutrient-rich banks to be farmed on, or the rainy season that strengthened the currents and brought an abundant water supply for communities. The continuum of the Mekong has changed as a result of human influences affecting water levels, sediment distribution, fish spawning and livelihoods.

The largest human impacts on the river are the results of hydroelectric dams placed upstream, causing upsets for the countries and small communities downstream who are reliant on the river to sustain their families with food and an income. The dams, which are primarily implemented and controlled by China, have now created unpredictable patterns in water levels and flow that can fluctuate every 4-6 days. These changes impact communities that rely on the water level for agricultural use as well as base their fishing techniques off of.

Beyond unreliable water levels and turbidity, the dams have been detrimental to the river’s biodiversity. Fish populations have decreased and some species, including the Giant Mekong Catfish, are at risk of extinction. This limited supply directly impacts families who require fish for adequate protein intake. It also causes a trophic cascade within other species connected to fish, such as birds, aquatic insects and macrophytes.

The damages to biodiversity and human livelihoods are by no means local. Resources for one community influence a large web of interconnected communities far beyond the reaches of the river. China’s dam construction is based on their desire to improve their economy and develop a substantial energy and water supply. These motives overpower the need for conservation efforts. It is challenging as individuals to be heard against decisions made by a global superpower.

The first step toward resource preservation is knowledge. Most communities don’t understand the reasons behind the decreased fish populations and peripheral effects the dams are causing. The Mekong School is an excellent example of planting seeds for future change locally by traveling to schools and communities along the river in order to spread awareness. They are in the process of forming a coalition to prevent future dam construction. The Mekong River represents traditions, cultures, and ways of life, something that must not be forgotten in large-scale economic decisions. We return home with awareness and a desire for change. Although we reside far from the Mekong River, issues of water quality and community vitality apply across the globe.

image image

“In a battle between elephants, the ants get squashed” -Thai proverb

Group Blog — Blair, Crystal, Kellin, & Lizzy

Communication/Human Interaction

Without knowing more than two words in the Thai language, we have gotten pretty creative in the ways we’ve interacted with the locals on this trip. Parallels can be drawn between our interactions with Thai people and concepts outlined in the symbolic interactionism theory. This theory highlights the importance of nonverbal communication just as much as using language in interactions. With the language barrier that exists between the Thai people and us, we have found body language to be very effective in our interactions.

During the homestay, we found it difficult to communicate with the families, as we could not speak the same language. We found that using actions could help us while interacting with our host families. We acted out motions to wash dishes, eat, and determine sleeping arrangements. Although we may have looked foolish, our host mom always laughed and nodded her head as a way of showing she understood. Through our experience at the homestay and other interactions we have participated in with the Thai people, we have learned that smiling, laughing, and thumbs-up go a long way and can be just as significant as verbal communication.

With the nickname, “The Land of Smiles,” how could one not love Thailand? Since we’ve been here, it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen one frown… Or have we? They say that Thai people have 13+ different smiles, some of which are joy, disgust, admiration, disagreement, convenience, etc. These Thai smiles are impossible to detect if you are a foreigner, or farang, but easily readable if you are a native.

As Westerners, we are socialized to always express our emotions outright but as an Eastern, and predominantly Buddhist, culture Thais are socialized to not cause suffering on others, which leads to subtle expression of emotions. An example of this from our trip is when we asked a native Thai if they were at all scared of the government (something that is taboo to talk about here); they answered honestly and said “yes, I am sometimes,” but with a smile on their face. We found it curious how their emotions and facial expression were so contradictory.

Another not so obvious norm of the Thai culture comes from the heavy Buddhist influence. It is the avoidance to not cause others harm of suffering, which was brought up by KK in our monk chat. This is reflected in the many different ways to interpret a smile, as well as the kindness and lack of anger and worry as presented by the people we have come in contact with. When encountered with a problem, we have noticed that improvising comes easily and there is usually a very smooth transition so that we are unaware that a problem ever occurred.

We have noticed this is a very positive light, as everyone wants our group to have the best possible experience. However, this has raised a few questions for us. It can be uncomfortable at times to have someone wait on you so heavily, and go so much out of his or her way to please us. The questions brought up are: how can the people handle so much holding in of emotions, and what possible repercussions might this have?

A frustrating aspect of Thai culture we have encountered is the perceived indirectness and roundabout method of communication within conversations. In the United States, we are socialized to be direct and efficient, especially in business. The more efficient we are the more money we will save and generate. In personal settings, we are taught to be direct and open because it’s seen as dishonest if we don’t. I remember as a child in some of my classes we went around the room and “checked-in” meaning communicated how we were feeling and how we could have a happier day. However, in Thailand and other East Asian countries, the maintenance and furthering of harmony is above individual emotions and feelings. To be direct causes others to lose face.

Thais operate in high-context cultures where previous relationships, non-verbals, established hierarchies and indirect communication shape social cues and communicate individual’s emotions. Americans usually operate in low-context situations where words are taken at face value, everyone is said to be equals, and clarity and preciseness are valued. When these two styles come in contact effective communication can become complicated. While driving around Bangkok with Nicki and Minnie, they were providing information about the surrounding area. I remember driving through what appeared, but I could be mistaken, an impoverished area and Minnie, instead of commenting on the reality of the situations, talked about the harmony between all of the religious groups in Thailand. It was troubling to me hear about this interconnectedness while also witnessing the dire poverty we were traveling through. If we look away from our Western lens, however, Minnie might have been focusing on the peacefulness of groups not because she was unaware or unconcerned about the problems facing Thailand but because talking openly might cause Thais or us to lose face.xP1

Human Trafficking


(Mai) I had always known that Human trafficking existed, but it had never occurred to me that it was happening in the places that I hung out and spent free time. Learning about human trafficking in Thailand has opened my eyes to this issue more than I would have ever imagined. If I didn’t see those children begging for money on the streets instead of being in school, I would not have believed that it was such a prevalent topic. Seeing those children made it very personal to me because Laos was the country that my parents fled from in order to escape war and poverty. That kid could have been me. I have learned so much from being here in Thailand, and I hope to be able to apply it to my experiences back in the United States.

In this section I will talk about the types of ways that most people become victims of human trafficking. In particular I will discuss what types of people are more susceptible to becoming victims and how they are entered into the world of human trafficking. According to humantrafficking.org, stateless people, ethnic minorities, and migrants are at the most risk for human trafficking in Thailand. This is because they may lack legal identification, are easily exploited because of poverty, and lack access to education. Most people are lured into human trafficking through promises of education, work, or better life (I.e. Marriage to a wealthy person). Some people may also be kidnapped, such as children and young women on their way to and from school or work.

In some cases, victims may be given drugs and then become dependent on them, and that is how they are controlled by the traffickers. In other cases, they may be threatened that if they try to leave, the human traffickers will find their families and do bad things to their families. It can be especially hard to return to your family after being sexually trafficked, because in some cultures, sex before marriage can be seen as a shameful thing, thus their reputation is ruined. It is sad to think that when brothels are raided by police, the girls go to jail for selling sex, when they have most likely been kidnapped and forced to work there. While doing research on human trafficking, I found that it is almost impossible to escape from human trafficking unless you are saved.

(Chelsea) My interest in human trafficking sparked when I heard Eve telling her story about her personal experience. I wanted to know more about it and how it happens, so I researched the topic and learned about how young girls in outlying, rural areas are more susceptible to being trafficked. These girls and their families are usually approached by people from the city and offered a lot of money in exchange for the girl to “work in the city.” Often times the girl and her family don’t know what kind of work she will be doing until after the deal is made and she arrives to the city.

I was curious to know what is being done to stop human trafficking in Thailand and if there are any organizations aimed at helping at risk girls. The Not For Sale campaign focuses on poor, minority groups living on the Thai-Burmese border who are often considered stateless. This campaign provides many services for children rescued from exploitation. In 2007, they constructed a children home which offers shelter for rescued youth. They also help the children legally obtain formal identification documents which can help them get more employment opportunities. They also provide education to the children and enroll all children at the home in primary, secondary, or university education.

(Halle) About five years ago I watched a documentary that told the stories of human trafficking survivors. I was introduced for the first time to this horrific immense global issue. My worldview was impacted forever as I was educated on this severe violation of human rights. Today, human trafficking is a $99 billion industry that has claimed 32 million known victims. It is a growing underground industry that takes place in plain sight while those in the midst of it remain oblivious.

Nomi Network is one of the many organizations that does profound work in helping victims of human trafficking. Nomi Network helps survivors of trafficking by creating economic opportunities for them by working with them to improve leadership and entrepreneurship skills to become independent. Nomi works primarily in India and Cambodia with victims of sex trafficking as well as those at risk.

In this blog, Mai focused on the types of people at risk of human trafficking, while Halle and Chelsea focused on organizations aimed at helping and preventing human trafficking from occurring. We were all intrigued through our experiences in Thailand and can also tie it back to our own personal experiences. Through this trip and the things we have learned about human trafficking, we are now more alert and aware of our surroundings. We hope that Eve’s seven tips will come in handy back at home and in our future travels.