Gustavus Adolphus College will host its 16th annual Building Bridges conference on Saturday, March 12, 2011. This year’s conference, with the theme “I’m Not For Sale: Slavery Past and Present,” will provide an opportunity for attendees to engage in dialogue about the effects of the slave trade from a historical perspective as well as from a modern-day one.
“Building on tradition, this conference continues to be the platform for students to address matters of global significance in a proactive and informative way,” said Gustavus junior and co-chair of the conference Elizabeth Coco. “This year’s topic is something that affects us all. It is important to ask why we still allow for slavery to exist and, more importantly, what we can do to create a new abolitionist movement.”
The keynote speakers for this year’s conference will be Dr. Joy DeGruy, author and assistant professor of social work at Portland State University, and Joy Friedman, a sex trafficking survivor who is Women’s Program Manager for Breaking Free.
DeGruy holds a bachelor’s degree in communications, two master degrees in social work and clinical psychology, and a Ph.D. in social work research. She is the author of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (2005), a book that discusses the “condition that exists as a consequence of multigenerational oppression of Africans and their descendants.”
Friedman has worked for the past eight years as a case manager, outreach specialist, program manager, and policy coordinator for Minnesota-based Breaking Free, an organization whose mission is to educate and provide services to women and girls who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation. She has performed a number of trainings and presentations on prostitution/sex-trafficking and currently serves as Breaking Free’s primary liaison with the St. Paul Police Vice Unit and FBI.
In addition to the keynote speakers, there will be workshop sessions in the afternoon. At three different times, conference attendees will have the opportunity to attend sessions on various aspects of modern-day slavery. The workshop topic choices include: human trafficking within Minnesota, the Polaris Project, the commercial sexual exploitation of American Indian women and girls in Minnesota, and more.
There will also be opportunities for attendees to take action by donating supplies and assembling care packages for women in the Breaking Free program. Similar to last year’s conference there will be a walk-through action piece where attendees will be able to interact with Gustavus social justice theatre troupe, “I Am We Are,” members, who will portray different stages and forms of modern-day slavery.
The schedule for the day is as follows:
- 9:00 a.m. Registration (in the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center)
- 9:30 a.m. Opening remarks by co-chairs and performance by “I Am We Are”
- 10:00 a.m. Keynote Address by Joy DeGruy
- 11:30 a.m. Lunch Break
- 12:15 p.m. Highlighted Workshop by Joy Friedman
- 1:30 p.m. Break
- 1:45 p.m. Workshop Session #1 or Joy and Joy joint Q&A session
- 2:45 p.m. Workshop Session #2 or Action Piece
- 3:45 p.m. Workshop Session #3 or Action Piece
- 4:45-5:45 p.m. Action Piece
The conference is open to the public, but tickets are required and may be purchased in advance online at www.gustavustickets.com. Tickets are $10 per person, but are complimentary for college and high school students with a valid student I.D. as well as for Gustavus employees who have a valid I.D. For more information, visit the conference website at gustavus.edu/diversity/buildingbridges or contact the Gustavus Diversity Center at 507-933-7449.
“Building bridges is so important because it gives people a chance to be part of a positive change in our society,” said Gustavus senior and conference co-chair Shanda Kirkeide. “So many students believe that their words and actions can’t make a difference but with Building Bridges we prove that they can.”
Building Bridges is a student-led, student-initiated diversity conference dedicated to addressing today’s pressing social and global issues. The conference works to increase awareness and action, promoting mutual respect and understanding about diversity. These aims are achieved through inspirational speakers supplemented by interactive workshops and action steps.
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