Sarah Beech is a born and raised Texan. She loves to be outdoors and discover new places around her. Over a typical week you might see Sarah going on hike, listening to Austin Stone, or trying a new coffee shop. Sarah currently attends The University of Texas and is majoring in government and psychology. All of these things above make up a part of Sarah, but perhaps it could be argued that two of her biggest and most unique passions are her love for researching and teaching.
I got the privilege to sit down for lunch with Sarah after the Dressember 5K in May. We laughed, chatted, gallivanted around the grocery store and talked about our passions. As the conversation turned to more serious notes, it became so clear that teaching is what drives Sarah to speak up about the global issue of human-trafficking.
We often talk about human trafficking as a global issue, and at times that can lead to the belief that trafficking is something that is "over there," and that it doesn't exist around us. But modern slavery is here, and it happens all around us. The proximity of trafficking, the closeness of the pain and harm of slavery to our homes - this is where Sarah has found her niche and her voice. In her own words, "Every time I talk with someone about human trafficking, I take a step back and break it down, starting with the recognition that this happens where you are."
"Every time I talk with someone about human trafficking, I take a step back and break it down, starting with the recognition that this happens where you are."
Sarah found out about Dressember in the fall of 2016, after joining the International Justice Mission (IJM) chapter on her college campus. Every year her IJM campus chapter joins together to sell used dresses, and the money goes towards their Dressember campaign, which helps to involve those who might not otherwise have a chance to advocate with Dressember. Sarah told me that this first experience was really eye-opening, "I had only really known what is in movies [about trafficking]....but then, I become more interested in doing something that would allow me to get more involved."
One of the biggest ways that Sarah is currently involved in the fight against slavery is by spending countless hours researching the trafficking situation in her city. Sarah lamented to me about her own town and cities across the country, "there are a lot of events like concerts or sports that go on, and we don't even realize those are hubs for trafficking. I'm baffled by those who don't recognize something that is so prevalent." In an effort to bring about recognition of the human trafficking that goes on right around each of us every day, Sarah has begun to train herself and others how to spot potential places for trafficking.
As Sarah and I continued to talk on our drive around L.A. I saw her put her research into action countless times. As we drove past a massage parlor Sarah wondered aloud if the women working there were being trafficked. When I asked Sarah about the personal changes she has made in her own life since learning about modern slavery, she responded, "I am more alert about surroundings and what I see - keeping an eye out to see how [human trafficking] manifests around me...I have to be a conscious consumer. If something is too cheap, there is a good chance it wasn't made ethically." Sarah commented that these changes are hard, they don't come easily but that it is really important to make changes because it has a local and a global impact.
"I am more alert about surroundings and what I see - keeping an eye out to see how [human trafficking] manifests around me...I have to be a conscious consumer. If something is too cheap, there is a good chance it wasn't made ethically."
It is clear and evident how much Sarah cares about the men and women who are trapped in slavery, especially in her own community. Dressember has provided her with the opportunity to combine many of the things that she loves. Sarah noted, "Dressember has provided an outlet for me to combine my biggest passions: human rights and writing. I get the opportunity to educate people, do my own research, and inspire others."
So what has inspired Sarah to get to the place she is at now? What are the things that have shaped her? Sarah says that local news stories and articles are always a great motivator to keep up the fight, but also some of her classes and professors have been very influential in shaping the way Sarah thinks about human trafficking and freedom. The biggest influencer, however, is the people. Whether a victim of trafficking or a professional in the field, "finding out information from people in the industry, and non-profit organizations directly involved in the fight against trafficking, they have the most valuable information."
"Dressember has provided an outlet for me to combine my biggest passions: human rights and writing. I get the opportunity to educate people, do my own research, and inspire others."
So who is Sarah Beech? She is a coffee lover, hiker, and explorer. She is a student, researcher, writer and an educator. She is a friend and an advocate. Most of all she is someone who wants to see changes happen not only globally, but locally, and she is a woman of action. In Sarah's own words, "What motivates me? The issue of human trafficking is fighting for recognition. Only after it is recognized can it be fought in a meaningful and effective way. You can't fight against something if no one knows it is a problem."
We have a chance to do something about human trafficking. We have a chance to make changes, education those around us, and advocate for the dignity of all people. It is clear to me that there is nothing Sarah would love more, than if you would join her in the fight against human trafficking.
Applications for our 2018 Fall Internships are now open! If you're interested in using your time and talent to further engage in the fight to end human trafficking, a Dressember internship might be right for you! Remote & LA-based positions available. Applications due June 18th.
About the Author
Amanda Kinney is a senior at The Master’s University and calls Southern California home. She enjoys long walks, rain, photography, and all things peppermint. On a daily basis she can be found eating vegan food and talking with her peers about ethical issues. She is enthusiastic about joining the Dressember team and plans on being a life-long advocate against slavery.