A feeling of awe circled the room as Mu Sochua, an accomplished human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and Cambodian Parliament member stepped in front of the class.
As she began her presentation, she did not list her accomplishments, nor did she instruct the students on how to help her cause. Instead, she laughed heartily and in her native language said, “You guys are probably going to say what?” Soon the whole group was laughing.
On Nov. 18, during periods 7 and 8, Sochua spoke about the issue of sex-exploitation, and promoted the documentary “Redlight.” The presentation was sponsored by the group Teen Vital Voices, a club founded by Alexis Teixeira ’13. The club, which is an extension of the nonprofit organization Vital Voices, focuses on female empowerment.
Sochua led an interactive presentation, where she spoke in an intimate classroom setting. She challenged students to imagine their lives as Cambodian citizens, particularly as women who often don’t receive any education, make less than two dollars a day, or are forced into sex-exploitation at as young as 8-years-old.
Though she is native of Cambodia, and explained many of the specific issues that have plagued the country, such as the Camboidan killing fields, she also stressed that the issue of sex-trafficking is not just within her own country.
“It’s a global issue, that’s why I’m here,” Sochua said.
Her main point in presenting was to promote awareness of this tragic and little known issue, and to encourage young adults like Staples students to help. As Teen Vital Voices aims to do, she hopes that young people know that they can make a difference.
“All in all, students were interested and many who heard her speak learned something new and were really moved by her story,” said Teixeira.