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CNEHT Workshop at National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry

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Members of the Catholic Network to End Human Trafficking (CNEHT) and students from Catholic High Schools in the Diocese of San Jose partnered to put on a successful workshop on human trafficking at the recent National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministers (NCCYM). Entitled “Human Trafficking – Our Modern Slavery,” the pre-conference workshop, was held at the San Jose Convention Center on December 1. The event drew attendees from both southern and northern California and from as far away as Anchorage, Alaska and Brooklyn, New York.

CNEHT’s Sister Marilyn Wilson, BVM, led the panel discussion that included students from Bellarmine, Archbishop Mitty and Notre Dame High Schools. After an opening prayer to Saint Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking, led by Nancy Moreno from Santa Teresa Parish, Mikaela Fenton, a senior at Notre Dame High School, kicked off the workshop with an icebreaker that visually depicted the intricate web of human trafficking. In the simulation, a trafficking victim (portrayed by Joaquim Schmidt of Bellarmine) stood in the center of the room holding a ball of red yarn. Attendees at the conference formed a circle around the victim. Each participant represented one of the many people with whom the victim comes into contact while being trafficked. As each contact was made, the participant received and held onto a piece of the red yarn. The tangled and complicated web of human trafficking soon became visually apparent to everyone in the room.

Mikaela followed this exercise with a viewing of a video segment from her senior service project. Along with fellow Notre Dame senior, Caroline Chmielewski-Anders, Mikaela is completing a series of short video interviews that feature coordinators and leaders from local Bay Area anti-trafficking organizations. Other videos at the workshop included excerpts from, “The Red Flags,” created by the San Jose Office of Women’s Policy, and a closing video entitled, “I will be a humming bird,” by Wangari Maathai.

Joachim Schmidt gave the group a basic outline of human trafficking including labor trafficking before attendees broke out into small group discussions. Students also presented a series of action steps. Joachim outlined resources and examples of conscious buying. Mitty sophomores Vedya Konda and Dasol Kim spoke on school projects that included advocacy days in Sacramento and Washington, DC, as well as participation in a Social Media Night before last year’s Super Bowl game at Levi’s Stadium.

CNEHT members also shared important information during the workshop. Terry Jelley presented an overview of the role of communication. Nancy Moreno and Anthony Ordona (Saint Thomas of Canterbury) discussed parish involvement. Sister Rosemary Everett, SNJM, created a resource table that included posters, brochures, newsletters, and information from a variety of local and national anti-human trafficking organizations.