It’s been quite the ride. My internship at IOFA has taught me a wide variety of things, but it has most importantly solidified my desire to continue to work in innovative ways to combat human trafficking both domestically and internationally. Whether through the facilitation of the Training Subcommittee for the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force, through research and design of a future victim survey, or through research to building the child welfare response to trafficking, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a diverse array of thoughtful and passionate people dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery from within our own borders. What sets IOFA apart is that these somewhat lofty goals are tackled pragmatically, giving me the critical push to hone my own ability to strategically foster relationships, build networks and learn from the various political, economic and contextual climates that impede victim service delivery on a grand scale. As these projects move forward in groundbreaking ways, I’m also moving forward as a more thoughtful and dedicated advocate for adolescents worldwide. I take these experiences with me, ready and more than willing to continue to fight for fundamental human rights for vulnerable women, men and children around the world. Thanks IOFA, for providing me with the necessary fodder to keep fighting the good fight!
-Summar Ghias, Program Development Intern
I cannot believe it is already time for me to leave IOFA. Two months have flown by and it is with a little bit of both pain and joy that I write my final blog post. The pain, of course, comes from my very short stay. I especially regret that I will be missing the Human Trafficking Conference in August and the AAATOP community forum in September (so don’t miss them!). But I am proud to say that I am also leaving IOFA with a strong sense of fulfillment. That fulfillment not only comes from the amount of knowledge and skills I have acquired but also from working with a group of very dedicated people on projects that will be critical in protecting and promoting youth’s well-being. So thank you Shelby, Sehla, Summar, and Carly for this amazing experience! And with that, I will now go from being an intern at IOFA to being a strong supporter of IOFA’s work.
-Meesoh Kim, Program Development Intern
-Meesoh Kim, Program Development Intern
What initially led me to IOFA—its international work with orphaned and vulnerable youth aging out of care, its innovative domestic work with building a better response to human trafficking, and its overall organizational focus on tackling critical and emerging issues facing adolescents—are all of the reasons that I now find it so difficult to close the page on this chapter of my time at IOFA and turn my focus to the next steps ahead of me. Since my internship in Ethiopia last summer to the continuation of my field work here in Chicago, I have been grateful for the experiences that I have had and know that the knowledge I gained during my time at IOFA will serve me well as I look to pursue a career in International Social Work. The dedication of the IOFA team to collaborate and work on issues that are so often overlooked by the broader community has cemented in me the desire to steer my future work towards finding and supporting projects and organizations that work to ameliorate the inequalities facing women and youth around the world today. Transitioning from my work as an intern to that of an IOFA supporter, I look forward to following the progression of Project Prepare (the current IOFA curriculum, developed and informed by last summer’s research, for youth preparing to age of out care) through its development and implementation stages. There is much to be said about my experience at IOFA that cannot be summarized in a paragraph or even in several; rather, what comes to mind is a quote from Martin H. Fischer, which states that, “The world is your school.” IOFA has certainly taught me well, and I go forth with a new understanding of the world around me—one I hope to continue to learn from. Thank you, IOFA, for the experience and thank you for all of the work that you do!
-Carly Loehrke, Program Development Intern