Four seniors enter a marketing competition to confront some of life’s most difficult issues.
Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney’s new film, Trade of Innocents, tells the story of an American couple living in Thailand, working to rescue girls from the human trafficking industry in Southeast Asia. The film is set to be released in early 2012, and seniors Summer Holeman, Bethany Clark, Katie Kirschner, and Arielle Swarr created marketing strategies that will be used to promote the film on university campuses across the country.
After returning from summer internships that were focused on human trafficking issues, the four students were given the opportunity to compete in a marketing contest for the film as an independent study project under Professor Christy Gardner. They spent the fall semester creating strategies that use trafficking simulations and social media to endorse the film on college campuses, and to educate students on the human trafficking industry.
Each of the women brought firsthand experience to the project: Arielle spent her summer in Israel directing a short documentary film about prostitution and human trafficking, Bethany served as the personal intern to the CEO of Second Chance Employment Services, to partner with the United Nations in the creation of a human trafficking conference for international corporations at the Harvard Business School, and Katie worked alongside YWAM in Cambodia, with a cafe and photography outreach to trafficked women. Summer interned in Thailand at The Well, an outreach focused on reaching women in the bar districts of Bangkok.
The film, Trade of Innocents, was filmed in some of the same locations that Summer spent time at while in Bangkok, and she could not have been more passionate about raising awareness for a movie that deals with the issues she came face to face with during her internship.
Summer spent nine weeks living in Thailand working with The Well, which organizes outreaches with the purpose of “bringing women into the community of The Well by telling them about Jesus’ love for them, and God’s ultimate purpose for their lives.” The Well also offers basic job training and job placement to give the women another way of supporting their families.
Though the outreaches were difficult, Summer says her boss at The Well taught her that “working in ministry means confronting things that you have no idea how to do and aren’t completely equipped for, and jumping in and giving them your best.” Summer learned how to “give God her best” in whatever came her way.
“Wheaton taught me to never give up challenging my faith to answer life’s difficult questions. I learned the critical thinking to take an issue like sex trafficking and dissect its causes and consequences in an intelligent way, all the while maintaining compassion for all involved. Literally seeing the perpetrator and the victim as God’s children this summer made all the difference for the conversations and thoughts I carried in Bangkok.”
“Although the friends I met in Thailand were not trafficked like the women and children in the movie, the fundamental evils of the sex industry are all the same, and my heart is truly set on campaigning against those evils.”
Summer, Bethany, Katie, and Arielle created a campaign “centered on community art and public advocacy” in the hopes of creating awareness for the film, and ultimately for the work of redemption happening in the lives of trafficked women and children around the world. They, along with several teams from other schools, won an award which included a cash prize, and their names will appear in the film credits.