Senior seeking funds for internship in India
Irena Zajickova | Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Next year, current Notre Dame senior Katie Dunn hopes to work in India as part of a prosecution team that fights cases of child forced prostitution.
Dunn first became acquainted with human trafficking during a Summer Service Learning Project in Memphis, Tenn. and then worked within the subject again during an International Summer Service Learning Project (ISSLP) in Thailand.
While she was doing follow-up work on her ISSLP, she was asked to sit on the Notre Dame Law School’s Human Trafficking Panel. She also researched human trafficking during her semester abroad in Uganda.
Dunn hopes to turn her research into action by working as an intern for the International Justice Mission (IJM), which investigates and prosecutes those who deal in child forced prostitution, as well as protects the victims.
Dunn would spend half of her time working as an administrative assistant for the director of the IJM office and the other half working with prosecution teams, ranging from making sure the investigation procedures will hold up in court to doing research for the team.
IJM interns need to raise their own funds to cover visas, living expenses and airfare for the year they spend interning. The cost of one year of living in India is $13,000. She said that one of the most difficult parts of the experience has been finding a way to fundraise that is both tactful and informative.
“The hardest thing, so far, has been trying to make human trafficking relevant to Notre Dame students without sounding flippant,” she said. “Also, doing it without making the victims into stereotypes and exploiting them for money.”
Dunn is looking forward to working with children, and plans to continue work in the field of human trafficking after her year-long internship ends.
“I look forward to working with kids who have been through a lot, but hopefully this approach will improve their lives,” she said. “And hopefully [it will] prosecute enough people so that human trafficking is slowly eradicated.”
She said the hardest part of her experience will be trying to find a balance between seeking justice for the victims and avoiding traumatizing them further.
“I think it’s going to be hard working with victims that have been through such awful, horrendous situations, especially since they’re kids,” Dunn said. “Working with them in a legal setting will feel very formal and maybe out of touch with the pain they’re experiencing. They may be pushed beyond their comfort zone, but hopefully it will help them in the end.”
So far, Dunn has raised approximately half of the funds she needs to live in India and complete her internship. She has even received help from Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, President Emeritus of Notre Dame. He wrote a letter on her behalf and sent it to Notre Dame alumni in hopes of obtaining donations.
“Katie brings intelligence, passion and commitment to the problem of human trafficking to the Notre Dame community,” Hesburgh wrote in the letter. “Notre Dame alumni have the potential to change the world when they work together; now is one of those times.”