Samantha Thornley | Week 1: Who am I & what led me to the movement?

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that. – Joseph Campbell

In 2008, after completing my undergraduate studies in music and having no desire to get a job in the ‘real world’ I flew to Vietnam, where I would spend the next year teaching English to students in the Mekong Delta. That year defined my life, and changed my perspective in ways I was not expecting. I thrived in a new culture, and am positive that I learned more from my students than I was able to teach them. Through my work with Teachers for Vietnam, I became more interested in nonprofits and decided to go back for a Masters degree in Nonprofit Management. For the past two and half years I’ve been studying the behind the scenes work of a nonprofit, concentrating on global studies and completing most of my research in the field of human trafficking. Through my research I caught wind of a few organizations doing really great innovative work, and Not For Sale particularly struck my interest.

Not For Sale focuses on taking action. Awareness is great, and important, but it is more important that people feel equipped to take action, regardless of their day-to-day jobs. The first time I heard this I finally felt like I could take the next steps to be involved. Quitting my job and moving across the country to take part in their six month fellowship may have been a little drastic – but I honestly felt like it lined up perfectly with what I wanted to be doing and where I wanted to be at this time in my life. It has been my dream during the past few years to get involved with this movement, and thanks to the fellowship program I am finally taking action.

A lot of people have been asking what comes next, and what my plans are post-fellowship. My response: I’m taking this one day at a time. I once read that “when you make up your mind that you are going to do something and work tirelessly to bring your dream to life, one of two things will happen; you will achieve the outcome you set out to create, or you will learn a crazy amount about yourself, your passions, and your world. Either way, you win.” (heyambarrae) I am incredibly excited about dedicating the next six months (at the very least!) to fighting human trafficking, and realizing whether or not I want this to be my full time profession. But no matter what comes next, I also expect this experience to teach me a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I have no doubt that the next six months will be some of the most challenging and the most rewarding.

This first week has been a whirlwind – information overload at its finest. But it has been incredible to meet the NFS staff and hear their stories, as well as learn more about what the organization actually does on daily basis – which is way too much to process in one afternoon. Living with the other fellows has also already enhanced my experience; it is really refreshing to be surrounded by like-minded people and being reminded that we are all in this together, all working towards the same cause. I am so grateful to be a part of this fellowship, and after a week full of trainings and brainstorming, I am ready for the real work to begin!

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Take a look at what Holly and I created for one of our first assignments; the “I Am An Abolitionist” video project. It turns out I have a lot of video editing skills I was never aware of. http://ar.gy/tdI (Vote for us!!! Voting is open 1/23 – 1/30!!!)

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