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.

So Excited!

24 May

20 May 2007

The first thing I have to say is that I can barely hold back my excitement for this summer! This excitement stems from two issues: my desire to eventually live and work in Italy and my desire to find a job working to stop violence against women and to have some work experience in the field of health and migration. I have already had some experience working in Italy – two summers ago I worked for the Science and Technology Office of the American Embassy in Rome. There I had the chance to deal with several international health issues. This past summer I went back to Italy to do research for my honors undergraduate thesis on the health statuses and needs of Arab Muslim immigrant families in Italy. With each of these experiences, I got closer to talking to the kinds of organizations I would eventually like to work for. This summer, I think I have finally been given the opportunity, through AP, to do the hands-on type of work I did not really get to do before in all of my other research and volunteer endeavors. Returning to Italy is also going to be a special experience for me this time around. In addition to seeing again the friends I have made over the past two years there, this summer I will finally get to meet Italian cousins of mine that my family recently initiated contact with again. After my grandfather Raphael’s death 15 years ago, there was no one left in my family who spoke Italian or visited Italy or knew the phone numbers of the relatives my grandfather used to call. I am very excited to meet these individuals this summer and share with them my passion for Italy and for making the world, and particularly Italy, a better and less corrupt place.

To prepare for the fellowship with TAMPEP this summer, in addition to reading up on more detailed literature on trafficking than I had read before, I had the opportunity to attend several events in the Washington DC area and tell people about my work. Myself along with Iain Guest from the Advocacy Project and Leslie Ibeanusi, the other AP fellow also going to Turin to work with TAMPEP, went to the Zonta International annual Washington DC gala. Zonta International is a network of professional women that supports many social justice initiatives around the world. A group of Zonta women from the DC area will be mentoring Leslie and I this summer. At the gala, Leslie and I had the chance to meet with many Zonta members and guests and to talk to them about what we will be doing this summer. Many of these ladies expressed a lot of interest in reading these blogs, which was very exciting! Mary Ellen Bittner, former Zonta president and DC based judge, welcomed us and is providing us a lot of help in contacting Zonta members in Italy as well. We also had the opportunity to meet Maureen Bunyan, a prominent DC television announcer; receiving her support was also very encouraging.

Another DC event I attended was a conference on trafficking given by the Social Investment Forum at the World Bank. I heard speakers from the Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, Shared Hope International, the Not For Sale Campaign, and other speakers connected to the US government. I also was able to talk to many of these individuals at the end of the day about my fellowship this summer and again received a lot of support and interest. I hope that all this prep-work I have done in DC prior to departure helps me advocate to a wide audience this summer on behalf of TAMPEP.

In conclusion, I am psyched to start training with the other AP fellows tomorrow and to get on that plane to Italy! I hope this summer fires me up and keeps me motivated to fight for the rights of women and migrants. The issues of trafficking, violence against women, and migration are all very complex. The complexity of these issues and how they tie into the various political, judicial, and health systems of countries today is what keeps me intellectually involved and committed to working on them. I am ready to be more physically involved, to face the reality of these issues in Italy (which also present themselves everyday here in the US).

Posted By Michelle Lanspa

Posted May 24th, 2009


  • Katie

    June 11, 2007



    Congratulations on your latest adventure! It sounds like you’ll be doing very exciting and important work.

    My friend sent me the clip from the Omaha World Herald about your placement in Torino. I believe she did so because I spent about six months in Turin studying and working last year. I doubt she knew that I would recognize your name from Duchesne…anyway, even though you seem to have a lot of connections in Italy, let me know if you need some more in Turin. I have a good friend (an Italian) there that, I’m sure, would be happy to take you out. Feel free to e-mail me at katiemlinehan@yahoo.com anytime.

    Good Luck!

    Katie Linehan (Duchesne ’02)

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