On January 10, 2014, our blog post Human Trafficking, detailed the global prevalence and impact of human trafficking. Considered a form of modern slavery, human trafficking is a designated crime against humanity and takes place in countries all over the world, including the United States.
Because it largely occurs out of the public eye, human trafficking only recently came to the attention of law enforcement officials and human rights advocates. However, many local, national, and international movements have emerged to raise awareness, prevent, and support human trafficking victims.
The resources listed below, which include articles, lesson plans, documentaries, and related information, were gathered to help teachers better integrate important topics such as human trafficking into their lessons and classroom discussions.
In the Philippines, a Fight to End Human Trafficking and Offer Refuge
PBS Agents of Change story that profiles Visayan Forum, the Philippines’s largest anti-trafficking group that rescues unemployed, low-income girls who are targets for human trafficking.
When Emily Was Sold for Sex
The New York Times op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof that exemplifies human trafficking’s presence in the United States.
Anti-Slavery Education Resources
Information and lesson plans focused on human rights and slavery, child labor, and how slavery is linked to the things we buy.
Teach UNICEF’s unit and lesson plans for 6th-8th grade and 9th-12th grade students.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide
Lesson plans and film modules to be used in conjunction with the PBS documentary series based on Nick Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn’s book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide.
Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative
Lesson plans on human trafficking from Stanford Human Rights Education Initiative fellows.
What is Modern Slavery? The Learning Network
A lesson plan to teach students about human trafficking, its causes and consequences, and the effects of globalization.
Part of the Not for Sale campaigns, this map records and displays reports of human trafficking all over the world.
U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Information on the U.S. Department of State Office that aims to prevent human trafficking, protect its victims, and prosecute human trafficking offenders.
Free the Slaves documentaries
Short documentaries on different aspects of modern-day slavery.
How to Combat Modern Slavery
TED talk with Kevin Bales, co-founder of Free the Slaves, explaining the business of modern-day slavery.
Too Close to Home
Documentary about human trafficking in Tampa Bay, Florida.
If you’re interested in learning more about human trafficking and local initiatives against the practice, join us on March 19, 2014 for a screening of the documentary Not My Life. A panel discussion will follow the film. Moderated by Deb Acklin, President and CEO of WQED Multimedia, the panel will include Elizabeth Echevarria, CEO and Founder of Living in Liberty; Anne Rackow, Planning and Evaluation Manager of the Project to End Human Trafficking and Co-Facilitator of the Western PA Human Trafficking Coalition; and, a representative from the FBI. Visit our website for more information and to register.
By: Ciara O’Connor, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern
Just this week, protests in Ukraine turned deadly leaving nearly 100 dead and hundreds more wounded. The escalated violence began late Tuesday and into the early morning hours on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, when riot police met opposition as they entered the main anti-government camp located in Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev. Police were responding to a government mandate for demonstrations to end and all protestors to disperse. When police entered the anti-government camps, protestors responded with make-shift bombs, fireworks and stones. Riot police responded with equal force using stun grenades. The violence continued throughout the day on Wednesday and into Thursday. Just moments after a truce was announced between leaders of the opposition and the Ukrainian government late Wednesday evening, protestors tried to regain control of Independence Square which they had lost just two days before. The latest conflict was the deadliest yet as both sides used firearms and automatic weapons during the struggle.
The violence has forced the international community to take a stand. Both the United States and France have criticized the Ukrainian government’s use of force in responding to protestors and have threatened the use of sanctions should the violence continue. Foreign Ministers from France, Germany, and Poland are expected to hold talks in Kiev to decide whether sanctions are necessary. Given the security concerns, the official date of this meeting is not known.
What is the cause of this conflict?
Demonstrations in Ukraine took form last November when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union (EU). Over time, this deal had the potential to save Ukraine hundreds of millions in trade-related taxes. President Yanukovych had been promising a closer relationship with the EU for years. Many felt betrayed by his decision and took to the streets to carry out peaceful protests. As demonstrators set up camp in Independent Square, or Maidan as Ukrainians call it, the “Euro-maidan” protests gained international attention.
Anti-government frustrations grew when Ukraine quickly signed a deal with Russia that would provide $15 billion in economic aid and lower the cost of natural gas by 33 percent. Facing domestic strife, the government responded to protests by introducing tougher punishments and anti-protesting law this past January. These new regulations were quickly relaxed. Nevertheless, a deadline for protests to end was put in place, and once riot police entered the main opposition camp in Independence Square to push protestors out, the violence intensified.
Why does any of this matter?
There are three important issues to keep in mind when thinking critically about the Ukrainian protests and why they’ve garnered so much attention. These of course aren’t the only areas to consider, but are a good place to start.
History: Ukraine is a former Soviet Union member country and has faced an uphill struggle politically, socially, and economically since its independence in 1991.
Geography: Ukraine is a dividing country between Western and Eastern Europe and has become an important influential factor for both the EU and Russia. Russia sees improved relations with Ukraine as a way to gain control over other former Soviet states. The EU sees it as a growth of European values eastward.
Gas: Ukraine is home to a number of pipelines that carry natural gas from Russia to Europe. Russia has used these pipelines as a political bargaining chip in the past, cutting off flows completely in 2006 and 2009. Incidentally, this indirectly affects the flow of gas from Ukraine westward. Under the new agreement with Russia, gas prices will decrease significantly.
What is the future of Ukraine?
It’s hard to say what will happen in Ukraine. The fight now seems to have grown to a broader cry against official corruption and police violence. Protestors are calling for the resignation of President Yanukovych and many of his cabinet members. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has already resigned. President Yanukovych has also dismissed the leader of the armed forces, Colonel General Volodymyr Zamana, replacing him with the Navy Commander, Admiral Yuriy Ilyin.
According to a poll taken at the beginning of the month, Ukrainians are pretty well divided on the issue. At the time, almost half (47%) supported the anti-government protests and 46.1% did not. However, a majority (63%) believed that in order to achieve any sort of positive outcome, it was necessary for all parties to sit at the negotiating table.
“What’s Happening in Ukraine” A guide for kids (BBC)
“Riots in Kiev Continue: 6 Things You Need To Know About Maidan Protests In Ukraine” (International Business Times)
“Anti-Government Protests In Ukraine Turn Deadly” (NPR)
“From Flames to Fiery Opposition, Protests in Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand” (CNN)
“How Much Money Did Ukraine Lose When It Nixed the EU Deal?” (International Business Times)
“Ukraine Crisis: President and Opposition Agree Truce” (BBC)
“Ukraine Leader Strains for Grip as Chaos Spreads” (NY Times)
“Photos From the Anti-Government Protests in Ukraine” (Slate Magazine)
Each school year, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh works with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) to provide an Apprenticeship Program on International Affairs. Students meet periodically over the course of the year to discuss a variety of career opportunities in the field of international affairs. Students are encouraged to think about their future, and explore different opportunities that would best suit their interests. The piece provided below was created by one of this year’s apprenticeship participants.
FBI Laboratory Division
I have skills in physical sciences.
My ideal place of work would be a lab.
Laboratory services sound good,
And the pay definitely isn’t bad.
This is part of professional staff.
Forensic sciences are often used.
Chemists analyze unknown substances
To see if they cause harm or lead to clues.
Forensic science is the best background,
Though military experience works.
Just be prepared to travel all around
For everywhere many disasters lurk.
Working in the laboratory division
To me seems like a very good decision.
By: Ian, a student at Mt. Lebanon High School
Over the next two weeks, the world will tune in to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. An estimated 6,000 athletes representing 85 different countries will compete in 89 separate events. Covered extensively in the news, the town of Sochi, Russia has undergone a marvelous transformation with the construction of new and renovations to existing hotels, trains, roads, tunnels, ski-slopes, restaurants, telecommunications systems, airport terminals, and modern sports venues just to name a few.
Of course, an international event of this size and notoriety doesn’t pass by undetected and without controversy. The Sochi Winter Olympics is no exception. Here is a recap of some of the more notable concerns that have filled the news headlines more recently:
Security threats are a worry for the leaders of the countries sending their athletes and citizens to the Olympic Games. After the December 2013 twin bombings in Volgograd, Russia, killing 34 people, there has been a rise in terrorist threats from Islamic militants and Russian jihadists based in the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, as well as a group of young women whose husbands have been killed by Russian forces.
The games have also been met by protestors who find the 2014 Winter Olympics offensive as it coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Circassian genocide, which also took place in Sochi. Protestors contend that the Olympics will be hosted on “mass graves.”
In an effort to ease concerns, Putin has personally promised a “ring of steel” to secure the Olympic Village. An estimated 40,000 police officers, military, and Federal Security Service agents will be present during the games, and reports of airport-style security checks with x-ray devices will be stationed at the entrance to every venue. In addition, the United States (U.S.) has stationed two Naval ships in the Black Sea, ready in the event that a mass rescue and evacuation mission is necessary.
Russia’s Gay Rights Propaganda Law was passed by Russia’s parliament in June 2013. President Putin supported the law, which bans the “public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear or see it.” The penalties involve hefty fines, as well as deportation for foreign visitors, which has sparked much controversy across the world. Russian officials released statements affirming that the law was not intended to limit the rights of citizens from other countries, and that those attending the Olympics will have full protected rights.
Political Affiliations have been an issue for the U.S. with Russian President Putin’s connection to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden wanted for stealing secret documents and leaking them to the press. With the Russian government granting asylum to Edward Snowden, many U.S. officials called for a boycott of the games. Additional boycotts were suggested in response to Russia’s new Gay Rights Propaganda Law. President Obama has rejected these ideas, saying the athletes have worked too hard to deny them the opportunity of competing.
Corruption has been a growing concern following the revelation of exorbitant spending in Sochi. The Winter Games are estimated to cost around $50 billion, making Sochi the most expensive games in history. Many argue much of this money has been wastefully spent.
Improved sustainable development has been a positive outcome of the lengthy preparation in anticipation of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and one that could have long term effects. Russia’s very first national standard for environmental construction came into affect in March 2013, and works to reduce energy consumption and the harmful affects of construction on the environment. In addition, Russian officials have incorporated international standards and assessments, while seeking the advice of experts at the United Nations Environmental Program, into the building of Olympic venues in Sochi.
The Winter Olympics have transformed Sochi, a traditionally quiet resort town, into a bustling modern tourist wonderland. Sochi stands to be an inspiring place, with over 25,000 volunteers braving the freezing temperatures (the coldest of any past Olympic location) to provide guidance to those who may be lost, give advice to the confused, and make the travel-weary feel welcome. Russia is a country notorious for its cold, stony exterior and has historically driven fear and paranoia in many Western nations. Hosting the Winter Games is a grand welcome for the world to learn more about Russian culture and people, and serves as an invitation to witness the ability of Russia to create a new Olympic city from the ground up.
Interested in teaching the Olympic Games in your class? Check out these resources:
NY Times: Map of Winter Olympic Medals (NY Times)
Classroom activities, resources, and lesson plans:
Overview of the Sochi Olympics – printable resources, activities, worksheets, reference materials, and lesson plans related to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi
10 Free Things for Teaching about the 2014 Winter Olympics – background resources, videos, and lessons and activities covering the Winter Olympics
2014 Olympic Winter Games – Olympic themed activities and resources on Russian history
Sochi 2014 Games: 6 Winter Olympics-Themed STEM Resources – classroom resources and STEM focused activities related to the Winter Olympic Games
Best of the Winter Olympics – a video highlighting some of the greatest moments in the history of the Winter Games
The Winter Olympics Begin Today – classroom activities, websites, and related resources for teachers
Pittsburgh may not be the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but that doesn’t mean athletes here are in short supply. Our own Olympic effort will be held this spring with the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3-4, 2014. The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh will be there, and invites you to join the World Runners team. From the 5K and kids marathon to the half and full marathon, and relay, there’s a race for runners of all types. For more information see the Council’s registration page, here. Not a runner? The Council is also seeking volunteers and financial support, both for individual runners and the Council team. Your support helps the Council continue building global awareness and understanding in the Pittsburgh community and area schools.
By: Samantha Simmons, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern
The polar vortex is back with a vengeance—such a vengeance that Jack Gerard’s flight from Washington to Pittsburgh was one of many cancelled last week. Gerard, President of the American Petroleum Institute, was scheduled to speak at a policy luncheon on “America’s Energy Choice” hosted by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, the winter weather didn’t keep Associate Director Joseph Leighton of the Pennsylvania division of API from stepping up to the plate, or rather the podium quite literally, to speak to a room full of energy experts and local high school students at the luncheon held at the Duquesne Club on Wednesday, January 22.
Leighton, who advocates for development in Pennsylvania’s oil and natural gas industry, shared a few moments with Pittsburgh-area high school students prior to the luncheon. “Nowadays, it’s hard for young people to find good jobs,” Leighton states outright. Education in mathematics and the hard sciences, such as chemistry and geology, is the key for young people to eventually attain a well-paying job, says Leighton. In fact, the father of two continually stresses ad nauseam the importance of math and science to his own children.
Despite his heavy emphasis on math and science education, Leighton also acknowledges the need for students in the trades. “Welders,” he points out for instance, “are going to be in great demand.” Leighton, who joined the Army Military Police immediately upon graduating from high school, understands the certain stigma of not choosing the traditional four-year college path. Nonetheless, as he followed his military service with time at community college, Temple University, and then law school, Leighton is living proof that an unorthodox educational path can result in success. “I love my job,” he adds with a smile.
Furthermore, Leighton notes that within fifteen years, over half of the workers in his field will retire. This major demographic shift, coupled with increased energy demand in both the United States and emerging world markets, will create a scarcity of capable workers, Leighton predicts. The American energy industry, he says, will need not only more college-educated engineers, but also skilled trade laborers to work in plants and build American infrastructure.
Also in regard to America’s future, Leighton notes what he believes to be the most pressing issue the US currently faces: the nation’s dependence on foreign energy. This lack of energy autonomy creates not only a domestic problem, but also a critical national security issue. With three years of military service, Leighton fully realizes the threat that dependence poses, as many oil-exporting countries hold “hostile” outlooks toward US interests and ideals. Leighton, remembering his Army buddies, states that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the US out of such hostile foreign countries. He adds that placing Americans in harm’s way for the sake of energy is “immoral.” Fostering self-sufficiency in energy can mitigate the issue, Leighton contends. Thus, he urges for further development of American oil and natural gas resources. Pennsylvania, Leighton observes, is “blessed” with a “diverse portfolio” of energy sources, including natural gas, coal, wind, solar, and hydro power, and as a result, has emerged as a major leader in taking full advantage of its energy capabilities.
While other regions of the US may not possess the same natural resources, they ought to take advantage of what resources they do have, Leighton proposes. For this reason, the recent controversy over the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline frustrates Leighton, who states that there is no “concrete” reason why the pipeline should not be completed. In fact, Leighton says the delay of energy and infrastructure projects like the pipeline is in fact “irresponsible,” as thousands of American jobs are forfeited. With much experience advocating before policy-makers, Leighton realizes first-hand the power of “political agendas, flawed science, fear mongering, and misinformation” in stalling projects such as the completion of the pipeline in the Midwest or the expanded use of hydraulic fracturing in Western Pennsylvania. Putting a man on the moon and ending World War II took less time, he adds as historical points of reference.
To combat such delay and obstruction in the political process, Leighton ultimately urges the public to hold their elected officials accountable. “2014 is an election year,” he states, adding that Americans must vote for leaders that are “willing” to implement policies based on energy independence. Before November comes around though, Americans must be aware of not only their elected officials, but the issues themselves. “We need an educated electorate,” Leighton urges, ultimately leaving the public with a call to action at the start of this new election year.
By Elizabeth, a student at Upper St. Clair High School
This is part of a series of student reporting blog posts. If you are a high school student interested in becoming a student reporter, please contact Emily Markham 412-281-7027, or by emailing Emily@worldpittsburgh.org.
In October 2012, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai made headlines when she was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Northwest Pakistan’s Swat District. Malala had a passion for education. As a seventh grade student, she started writing anonymously for the BBC Blog Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl, a resource that promoted educating girls. Shortly thereafter, she was the focus of a New York Times documentary on the subject. It was in response to these acts, that the Pakistani military felt the need to intervene. The assassination attempt failed and Malala’s recovery sparked an international conversation about educating children worldwide especially in times of conflict.
Civil and international conflict divides families, destroys homes, and disrupts the quality of healthcare. While education may not seem like an immediate need compared to food, shelter, and safety, it is central to development and can be rehabilitative to communities. According to the United Nations, 28.5 million children living in war zones cannot attend school. In times of conflict, children miss out on basic education when schools are damaged or closed in unsafe areas. Even after violence ends and the education system is reestablished, students struggle to make-up for lost time due to a shortage of qualified teachers. International law prohibits attacks on educational establishments, but schools are still being targeted. Examples are found across the Middle East and Africa including Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and the Ivory Coast.
Looking at the impact of Syria’s lengthy civil war on education, one in five schools is not functional. Thousands have been destroyed or repurposed as shelter for people fleeing the violence in other parts of the country. The only school building in Tal Rifat, for example, a city on the outskirts of Aleppo, was destroyed by airstrikes. In Azaz, a military base has taken the place of the only active school in the area. Despite the effort of community members in setting up provisional schools in homes and mosques, they are without trained teachers and sufficient supplies. Teenagers as young as 14 years old, who can no longer attend school, have begun volunteering as medical assistants; thereby exposing themselves to the frontlines of the war. For Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, there is no access to teachers or education.
In Afghanistan, access to education is similarly grim. When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, they made it illegal for girls to attend school. When combined with 30 years of continuous conflict, access to education, particularly for women, has been increasingly difficult. Threats from the Taliban are still present and there is a lack of both teachers and schools, especially in rural areas. In addition, only 28 percent of the country’s teachers are women. This poses a problem for Afghan girls whose education options are already limited. Culturally, having a male teacher decreases the likelihood that girls will be permitted to attend school. Many parents only allow their daughters to attend an all-girls school, while others are forced into marriage at a young age and do not continue their education.
The situation may seem grim as children across the globe continue to miss out on schooling, but organizations and individuals are working to raise awareness to reform this global issue. Listed below are just two of the many international efforts taking place.
- One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, achieving universal primary education, aims to make sure all children have access to primary schooling by 2015. Part of this effort is the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization publication that urges support for children in conflict zones.
- The World Bank’s Education Resilience Approaches (ERA) Program helps countries understand how conflict affects their education systems and identifies existing resources to support local education.
Teachers in conflict zones are also standing up for education. In July 2013, over 400 educators working in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo appealed to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to work toward greater support for education. They describe themselves as “teachers working with children whose lives continue to be profoundly affected by conflict…many of whom, like Malala, have taken enormous risks to simply attend school.”
Despite the push for change, only about two percent of humanitarian aid delivered to countries in conflict is spent on education, compounding the problems already faced by students and teachers. Going to school during times of violence can provide children with safety and stability amidst the chaos. In the long term, ignoring educational needs increases the risk that some children will never attend school, drop out, or that a region will lose the opportunity to educate an entire generation. 28.5 million is not a small number.
By: Ciara O’Connor, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern
January 1, 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Act, or NAFTA, signed into law by President Clinton on December 8, 1993. An outline of the values and goals of NAFTA can be found in the document’s preamble.
Before discussing NAFTA in detail, we must understand the logic behind the NAFTA treaty. The plan was that the United States and Canada, already-developed nations, would buy tariff-free goods from less-developed Mexico, where they could be manufactured at a lower cost. With the money they saved by not having to pay tariffs or import quotas, the United States and Canada would invest in more highly-developed infrastructure and the production of innovative, high-tech goods. In theory, Mexico would also profit from this agreement by reaping the benefits of innovation and technological advancements created in the United States and Canada.
The passage of NAFTA was not without controversy. On one hand, the Clinton administration and economists promised the free-trade alliance between the United States, Canada, and Mexico would generate wealth and boost the economy of the entire continent. On the other hand, unions, manufacturing workers, and middle class Americans in general feared NAFTA would effectively outsource jobs to Mexico. They were also concerned about the negative effects increased trade would have on the environment. While it is not yet possible to assess the full impact of NAFTA on its three member nations, the past twenty years have seen both positive and negative changes as a result of NAFTA. These are outlined below.
Some positive impacts:
- Since the advent of NAFTA, trade between the three member states has tripled. While manufacturing jobs in the United States have indeed disappeared, economists attribute this job loss not to NAFTA but to evolving technologies and Asian competition.
- North America has become a more integrated, efficient market for the production of advanced goods like cars, planes, and electronics. So, when you buy a vehicle that was assembled in Canada, it contains many American-made parts.
- American exports of services to Canada and Mexico have tripled in the past twenty years, resulting in a roughly $30 billion surplus.
- Mexican businesses have become more efficient and therefore wealthier, which has helped Mexico grow from an under-developed nation into a more stable democracy.
Some negative impacts:
- Several states, including Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, have lost jobs to Mexico. In 2011, a U.S. research organization called the Economic Policy Institute estimated this loss to be almost 700,000 jobs.
- Many of the jobs transferred to Mexican workers include hard labor, unsafe working conditions, and increasingly low wages due to competition with Asian and Indian workers for low-cost manufacturing.
- The surge in imported food from stimulated agricultural production in Mexico has pressured U.S. food inspectors to work more quickly, at the risk of less thorough inspections, which puts American consumers at risk.
- Some scholars argue the disruption of the previously-protected small-scale agriculture sector in Mexico and its replacement with mass production and low wages has increased illegal immigration into the United States, where Mexican workers seek higher wages and living standards.
So, in response to the question “integration, inequality, or is it too soon to tell?”, ‘too soon to tell’ seems like the most accurate answer. While it remains unclear whether NAFTA will have a positive or negative net impact on our future, it is important that we take a few moments to understand NAFTA’s role over the past twenty years because it has shaped and will continue to shape North American economies throughout the 21st century.
Resources for teachers:
- A Guide to Teaching NAFTA (teachingdegree.org)
- Economists Toast 20 Years of NAFTA; Critics Sit Out the Party (NPR)
- Examining Multiple Perspectives on the Effects of NAFTA on Mexcio and the U.S. (NY Times Lesson Plan)
- NAFTA: Does the North American Free Trade Agreement Really Promote Free Trade? (Discussion Guide)
- The Fruits of Free Trade: How NAFTA Revamped the American Diet (NPR)
- Looking Back at Two Decades of NAFTA (Infographic)
By: Nina Mast, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern