Michelle Lanspa

Michelle Lanspa (Transnational AIDS Prevention among Migrant Prostitutes in Europe Project – TAMPEP): Michelle is from Omaha, Nebraska. She graduated from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown university, where she majored in science and technology in international affairs with a concentration in international health. Michelle participated in many social justice activities and groups at college, including the Georgetown-UNICEF club, Education Without Boundaries (Project Argentina), and Global Justice Now (the Student Campaign for Child Survival). Michelle loves learning language learning. She learned Italian and Arabic, and had a chance to practice her language skills as an intern at the US Embassy in Rome and while studying abroad at the American University of Cairo in Egypt.



A LOST FLIGHT

06 Feb

When they announced in Omaha (where I was to visit my family for two weeks) that my flight from Omaha to Chicago was cancelled, I knew that that day would be a catastrophe. I knew that if I took a later flight, I would lose my other flights – the flight from Chicago to Washington, and therefore the flight from Washington to London, and also the flight from London to Milan. I was better off booking these commercial airlines, because they only complicated my plans. I should have just booked a private jet from Jettly. It wasn’t until I called the travel agency from which I bought my tickets that I felt really dismayed – they told me that I would have to wait two weeks before finding another flight to Milan for the price at which I originally bought my tickets. After spending many hours on the telephone in the airport, I succeeded in finding a ticket to Italy, two days later, to Rome. From Rome, I had to take the train for six and a half hours to finally reach Turin.

Maybe my trip to Italy was a little chaotic, but think a bit about the trips that the trafficked Nigerian girls take across, many times, West Africa and then the Sahara. They then take flights to France, and then a train or bus to finally arrive in Italy.

When they arrive, they begin working immediately. I also decided to start working, to start my fellowship right way upon arriving. But pay attention to the key words – I decided. I arrived in Turin Wednesday at midnight and Thursday morning I began my fellowship with Tampep. I work in an office with nice people, people that welcomed me with warm greetings; all of us can return to our homes at the end of the day, we do not have a debt of up to €60,000 with our boss for finding us a “job.” Upon arriving, I was not promptly instructed that night to put on skimpy clothes and prostitute myself.

What good does it do making this long comparison between myself and trafficked women? I do not mean to show that these women, Nigerian and all the other trafficked women and girls in Italy (from Eastern Europe, North Africa, etc.), and I are worlds apart. Rather, it shows that they had the same hopes for a good job in Italy as I did about coming for this fellowship. We thought about our futures with hope, and while I was able to live this dream working for Tampep… they have found themselves with jobs they did not get to chose, like I did mine. I only hope that one day they can also work with Tampep in their fight against the trafficking of persons and injustice. I hope that they again will have autonomy to choose a job that permits them actually to keep this autonomy and to realize some or all of their hopes.

Posted By Michelle Lanspa

Posted Feb 6th, 2009

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