Fall 2010

[Alumni News]

Jen Cordaro

Breaking the Chains of Human Trafficking

Photo Courtesy of Jen Cordaro Photo Courtesy of Jen Cordaro

JEN CORDARO (‘06) HAS traveled around the world to champion human rights in countries where human trafficking and child prostitution run rampant.

At HSU, a geography class with Stephen Cunha opened her eyes to the possibilities for adventure around the globe. After a study abroad trip to Tibet in 2005, she backpacked in Thailand for three weeks. While there, she noticed older Caucasian men walking with Southeast Asian girls, some as young as 10.

“The idea of such rampant abuse was painful to realize,” she says, “I knew I had to do something to help.”

She went on to earn a master’s degree in International Human Rights Advocacy and Non-profit Management at the University of New Hampshire in 2007. Now, she works as Community Organizer of Burmese Refugees in San Diego with the Alliance for African Assistance. Her work has taken her to Myanmar, Thailand, India and a host of other countries.

Her favorite part of the job is working with the people of Myanmar. “I enjoy organizing the community with the goal of its self-sufficiency,” she says. “They are people without a country, displaced refugees from their own land.”

The people she serves represent 135 different tribal identities, with almost as many languages, so communication is difficult. It can also be hard to know if she’s having an impact. “The hardest part is that I’m only one person,” she says. “I just have to keep believing that my work makes a difference.”

And yet, Cordaro aspires to do more. She plans to pursue a degree in International Human Rights Law – not to become a lawyer, but to help people in Southeast Asia get out of the sex trade and find a haven from human trafficking.

“I’ve always had a love for Thailand, because of its rich culture and sheer beauty. It’s also a hub for human trafficking and the sex trade. That’s where I really hope to make a difference some day.”