Monday, December 22, 2008

the (other) land of the free*



You may have noticed that I’ve been falling a bit behind on my posts: they’ve been coming out a bit late, and the spaces between my posts have gotten rather lengthy. That’s because for the past few months I’ve been very busy writing other things: namely, applications, because my current job (a maternity leave cover) ends in February. Well, one of them has paid off, and I’ve been offered a very exciting professional opportunity! In Thailand. We’re moving to Bangkok!

Starting in March 2009, I will be working for twelve months with the World Vision Foundation of Thailand, the Thai branch of my current employer, supporting the coordination, implementation, monitoring, and development of their anti-human trafficking programs throughout the greater Mekong region (Note: “human trafficking” is like drug trafficking but with people, and the profit comes from exploiting people's labour rather than from illegal movement or goods: in other words, slavery). The position is based in Bangkok but involves frequent travel to Thailand’s border towns and neighbouring countries (exciting!!) because a key piece is to facilitate communication and collaboration among regional projects. I’ll be focusing particularly on two projects that protect migrant rights and discourage unsafe migration from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Since human traffickers are not exactly the nicest of people, many friends and family have raised understandable concerns about my safety. Fortunately, I will not be engaged in the kind of high-profile bust-ups of billion-dollar sex-trafficking rings that get you targeted by international crime lords. I will be working with victims and potential-victims of human-trafficking, not with traffickers. I will be working largely on community education and development programs: making vulnerable people aware of the threat human trafficking poses to them and encouraging safe and lawful ways for people to make a living where they are, or migrate safely to find work. I don’t expect that anybody dangerous will even notice me, much less target me. Also, although I will be working with World Vision Thailand, the position is funded and administered through AusAID as part of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program. I trust the Australian Government to watch my back.

Erika will of course be coming to Bangkok too, and we’re eagerly exploring things for her to do there. She’s signed up to get TEFL training and certification next month. Also, we’ve recently discovered that Habitat for Humanity has a significant presence in Thailand, and working with them could be exactly what she wants to do. She’s also hoping to explore more outdoor sports opportunities.

Needless to say, we’re extremely excited about this opportunity. It’s pretty much exactly what I was hoping for in my next career move, and I’m thrilled it’s happening so soon.

*Like the US, Thailand calls itself the Land of the Free. This is in reference to 1) the pride that Thai people take in having successfully resisted colonization by Western powers, and 2) a comparative difference in the political autonomy of lower class people in two rival Tai (pre-Thai) city-states in the thirteenth century (it’s a little complicated).

3 comments:

A'Llyn said...

Awesome! Good luck with this next exciting step in your career and travels.

D and V said...

Hi Petra, Greetings from Lancaster, N.H. Aunt Sylvia hopes you enjoy your new adventure. Keep us posted. Love, Mum,Dad,Aunt Sylvia

C.Steele said...

That sounds amazing! Enjoy and stay safe. :)