social justice

Abolitionist Intern

Last fall  I enrolled in a class at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) titled “Special Problems and Topics in Global Studies: Global Issues in Human Trafficking.” I thought it sounded interesting and wanted to learn more on the topic. Throughout the course we partnered with the local nonprofit End Slavery Tennessee. Global Studies majors here at MTSU have the chance to earn credit by finding an internship with a global aspect. After volunteering last semester with Dana Montgomery, an End Slavery Tennessee (ESTN) representative, I decided End Slavery Tennessee would be great for my internship.

Since then Dana and I have worked together in Murfreesboro to develop the internship for future semesters.  I officially started in January and have since created a template for future interns’ requirements based on my own tasks and jobs completed for ESTN.  Much of what I do entails assisting Dana with projects and presentations that cover different aspects of human trafficking. I have also helped with creating forms and applications for upcoming interns.

Proff Justice MTSU

Currently Dana and I are pairing up with Global Studies Professor Justin Phalichanh to help strengthen the partnership between End Slavery TN and the Global Studies program at MTSU.  On April 11 at MTSU, we held a movie screening of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary that exposes the nightmare of sex trafficking. This movie screening will hopefully become a recurring project between Global Studies and ESTN. It not only helps give the ESTN intern the opportunity to help plan the event, but also gives students taking the “Global Issues in Human Trafficking” course a chance to learn more about the issue.

When I took the Global Studies course “Global Issues in Human Trafficking” last semester, we had to pick a country or theme related to trafficking for an extensive research paper. I chose to research and write about sex trafficking and exploitation in Costa Rica because I would be traveling there for my upcoming spring break as a mini study abroad trip. Three weeks ago I left for Costa Rica without any knowledge of Spanish, but no worries. I enjoyed my 10-day trip immensely, but there were times that my research paper on Costa Rica crept back into my mind. I remembered reading that the majority of the sex trafficking cases reported in Costa Rica occurred in the north and central Pacific coast areas, which is where we stayed for part of the trip. It is amazing how unaware people can be of something that happens around them all the time.

Ride for Refuge 2012

The morning of the Nashville Ride for Refuge dawned rainy and gray, but the weather didn't get us down!  My girls were so eager to Ride, even though it was COLD.  Watching all of the Riders line up and then take off in groups was very exciting!  With the last of the 8 mile group on their way, my two big girls on bikes, and my toddler, hitching a ride in the jogging stroller pushed by my husband Will, brought up the rear.  I enjoyed doing registration with Karen Karpinski and Dana Montgomery and greeting all of the riders was one of the highlights of my morning as I put faces with names that I'd seen on the Nashville Ride for Refuge website for the last few months.

My family enjoyed doing the first mile together, and then I went and picked up the two little girls so that my husband and oldest daughter could continue the Ride.  They went on to finish the ENTIRE 8 mile route!  When she came back inside, my 10-year-old looked about ready to fall over, but she was SO proud of herself (and so were we!).  It was such a confidence boosting experience for her and the little girls had a great time playing and eating yummy snacks donated by wonderful volunteers!

I've been volunteering with End Slavery TN for about 9 months and have wanted to involve my girls in this amazing abolition work, but have had to be careful as well because the issues around slavery can be graphic and disturbing.  The Ride for Refuge was the perfect event for a family wanting to do abolition work together, no matter the age!  There was something for everyone, whether it was participating in the Ride itself, helping with registration, food, set-up, trail side cheerleaders handing out snacks and water, you name it!

Ride Day was an amazing and fun morning with fabulous people who care deeply for the vulnerable, exploited, and displaced among us here in Middle Tennessee.  Being with such a group was a blessing for our family.  The fundraising leading up to the Ride was also a faith building experience.  Sixty-seven sponsors from all over the country sponsored my daughters.  They shared messages of love and support with my family and for the girls my girls were striving to serve--Girls helping Girls!  It was a grand circle of love and hope that touched my heart and showed me "that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” We loved doing the Ride and hope to make it a family tradition!

With Gratitude, The Will and Christy Grigg Family