Intro – Who am I and what led me to the movement?
Hello everyone, my name is Matthew Collard and I am a new fellow at Not For Sale. I’ll start off with a bit about myself. I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and have since lived in 3 other states as well as abroad in Japan, Australia and Thailand. My travels look like this: Louisiana (6 years) –>Michigan (11 years) –> Ohio (3 years) –> Japan (1 year) –> Australia (1.5 years) –> Thailand (7 months) with intermittent time spent in Seattle, which became my home after I graduated High School. I am very thankful for all the opportunities given to me so that I could travel all over and learn about multiple cultures. I believe that meeting new people from all walks of life and different cultures has really helped me grow as an individual and I look forward to traveling more soon!
As for education, I attended Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, OH, for 3 years with Sociology as my major and Japanese as my minor. And yes, I said Ohio, not Florida! This mix-up is common, which is why Miami University likes to remind people that it was first started in 1809, before Florida even became a state! Oxford was quite the small town and so I feel like I am somewhat prepared for what Half Moon Bay will be like over time. Half Moon Bay has a very small community, but I feel like this has more advantages than disadvantages. The community is tight-knit and very polite. Wherever you go you will receive friendly nods and smiles. Coming from big cities with differing cultures like Osaka, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand this is quite the change.
My first travels abroad began in Osaka, Japan where I spent my final year of my undergraduate education studying abroad. There I was able to experience a wonderful culture and I hope to be able to go back and visit one day.
Next, I made my way to Brisbane, Australia where I attended the University of Queensland for my Master’s Degree. It was during my education here that I really began to learn about human trafficking and my passion to combat that injustice grew stronger. My Master’s Degree was in Peace & Conflict Resolution. During the course of our education we were exposed to a multitude of tragedies occurring across the world. While all are equally important in combating, it was human trafficking that really sparked my interest.
Finally, I went to Bangkok, Thailand with a suitcase and teaching certificate and managed to find a job as an English teacher at a private Kindergarten quite quickly. There I taught about 60 kids, ages about 2-5. They were all absolutely wonderful, and I miss them all. While I did enjoy teaching, I just felt that it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing in life. I felt drawn to work in the anti-trafficking realm. I didn’t know where to start or what I’d be doing, but I knew I needed to return back to the States and figure things out, and that’s exactly what I did.
When thinking about how to combat trafficking, where does one start? There are so many facets to the human trafficking issue: the role the global political economy plays, the traffickers themselves, laws/legislation (or lack thereof), etc… At times it can just seem quite overwhelming. Even so, I know that I want to make a difference in any way I can even if the results of my efforts aren’t immediate or don’t seem to have a direct impact in the movement. I don’t expect to be kicking down doors and saving victims of trafficking from oppression (well… not yet anyway!)
It is a privilege to be working with Not For Sale and I hope that I will be able to become a more efficient abolitionist in the movement to end modern-day slavery and combat human trafficking.