Archive | June, 2012

The Second Week

27 Jun

“Planting rice is never fun

Bend from morn till the set of sun

Cannot stand nor cannot sit

Cannot rest for a little bit.”


(One of the ladies from the shelter taught me this nursery rhyme and a dance that goes along with it. We had a load of fun singing and dancing. Rice is pretty big in the Philippines.)




This past week I made some progress on the Survivor Cookbook, which is a collection of recipes and reflections from the shelter residents and the Survivors Advisory Caucus members.  So far I have only sat down with four people, but I have six appointments for next week!

Until then, I’d be delighted to share some of the things that happened on my second week!


Introduction to Shelter

The shelter is a lovely home for international CAST clients. On Tuesday, one of the legal interns and I created an activity calendar for the residents and a schedule for the cookbook. Then we introduced ourselves and presented our projects at their weekly house meeting – which was so cool because I used an Amharic translator! The ladies expressed interest in the cookbook and several set up appointments with me right away.


Cookbook Project

A few days later I returned to the shelter to talk to Little Jamaican Girl (LJC) and Lularga about their contributions to the cookbook.  LJC gave me a family recipe that was prepared every Sunday: Jamaican rice, peas, and chicken with carrot juice. Yum! Lularga is hands down one of the sweetest old ladies you’ll ever meet. She gave me a recipe called “Diningding Iloceno Dish with Mungbean,” which is basically a vegetable stew with fried tilapia. In her reflection she talked about what each ingredient symbolized – everything was very much tied to her faith.

At the office the next day, I met with some of the caucus members about their recipes and I talked to one of them for almost an hour and a half! (Datti’s English was very difficult to understand, but she was so patient with me.) I honestly didn’t expect this much of a struggle with these recipes. Not only is there a language barrier, but also the dishes are so exotic and intricate. I mean have you ever heard of Telur Bubuk Balli from Eastjava? Try understanding how to prepare it well enough to teach it to someone else! I love this project though – I’ve always thought that food is the best way to bring people together.

I would like to tell you more about it, but I think you should wait until the cookbook is actually finished! I don’t want to spoil the surprise.


USC Conference

On Saturday I went to a conference at USC Annenburg School of Communications and Journalism with my boss and one of the caucus members.  They gave a brief overview of human trafficking and encouraged reporters and journalists to improve their interviewing and reporting methods. Apparently there are a lot of reporters who are insensitive when interviewing survivors of human trafficking – like the questions they ask are phrased in uncomfortable ways. For example, when survivors are asked something like, “why didn’t you just leave?” it makes them feel as if it were their choice to be a slave. Also, the media tends to focus on sex trafficking – which is undoubtedly important – but there are many other types of trafficking that deserve attention as well. Tessa suggested that stories/articles that focus on one specific case should at least mention a broader perspective on human trafficking to be more informative of the issue. Simple as that.


Well that’s it for now. Thanks for reading!



Week One Recap

19 Jun

I am currently continuing today’s work in a cozy Scripps’ Motley-like coffee shop in Echo Park. Normally I would stay in the office after Tessa (my boss) leaves, but I grew tired of sitting at my desk and decided to take my assignments home – after asking for permission of course. So now I’m taking a break to appreciate this is nice change of scenery and to say:

Hello there!

I apologize for neglecting this blog last week. I just got into a rhythm of work, swimming, obsessing over delicious homemade Chinese meals, and falling fast asleep (swimming has definitely taken the life out me). It is such a dreadful sport and I ardently respect and despise swimming fanatics. After eight months of no exercise, onlookers and lifeguards often fear for my safety, but I swear I’m not drowning – at least not yet.

Needless to say I haven’t exactly enjoyed my time in the pool.

Let’s talk about the internship now.

The first week might not be particularly exciting for you simply because it was all an introduction! I  learned nearly all there is to know about CAST including everyone in the office and their roles. I also studied the history of human trafficking and I’m now trained to give a “Human Trafficking 101” presentation. Then there’s the fun intern activities such as making phone calls, planning events, folding shirts, translating documents, etc. Tessa and I also discussed my long-term goals for this summer! I’m currently reviewing a toolkit to help students start a CAST chapter or establish an alliance with the organization at college universities. I’m also in the process of creating a digital library to organize the CAST resources in the office. Oh and next week I start working at the shelter for survivors of trafficking! Tessa came up with a “Survivor Cookbook” project, which allows caucus members and shelter residents to share their favorite recipes and write a reflection about why their respective dishes are special to them. We would then compile the recipes and stories into a cookbook that is both meaningful and delicious!

That’s a basic overview of all the projects I’ve started this week. I’ll tell you more about them as I make progress!

Thanks for reading!




Still feel like reading? Here’s some more food for thought!

“Farm workers are some of the poorest paid and most exploited workers within the US economy. They earn on average US$10,000 a year and are excluded from many of the fundamental labour rights guaranteed to most other US workers, including the right to organise and the right to overtime pay. Farm workers also lack health insurance, sick leave, pensions, and job security. These substandard conditions are the fertile ground that gives rise to forced labour in US fields.”

Here’s a short video illustrating labor trafficking in agriculture.

CAST 101

12 Jun



I would first like to thank you for taking the time to visit my page. Your interest is very much appreciated. I’m not at all familiar with the world of blogging, so please don’t be too critical.


Also, I plan on changing the names of people that I mention in my posts – simply for confidentiality.




I think yes.


My name is Adriana Ramos, I’m a Human Biology-Government dual major, and I’m interning at CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking) in Los Angeles. There’s so much that I can say about this organization. CAST’s mission is to assist persons trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and slavery-like practices and to work toward ending all instances of such human rights violations. It is the first agency in the US dedicated to victims of modern slavery via comprehensive client services and advocacy programs.  I’ll stop there – take a look for yourself!


So I recently moved in with my roommate Beyoncé’s house near Chinatown for the next two months, and so far the food and company have been wonderful. I can already see a significant difference (p<0.005) in my parallel parking abilities and my natural inclination to make eye contact with strangers. Beyoncé advised me to not be so friendly to people I don’t know.


Back to the internship.


I arrived about an hour early to work because I wasn’t nervous or anything. It was nice though because I had the opportunity to get to know the super cool volunteer at the front desk. Upon the arrival of the CAST Director of Partnerships, Tessa, I began a day full of introductions and informational sessions. This included studying the history of national and international human trafficking, as well as legislation (and other anti-trafficking efforts).


Well that’s all I’m going to write for now. I strongly encourage you to read a little bit about the issue and maybe even share your knowledge with others!


Here’s a start.


“According to the 2008 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat; it deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it increases global health risks, and it fuels the growth of organized crime.”