This trip has already provided me with a multitude of new experiences from traveling across the country to living in a hostel to becoming a part of one of the most interesting and engaging group of people I’ve ever met. As with most new experiences, there arise challenges – both ones which you expected or predicted as well as those you hadn’t anticipated.
The challenges I hadn’t anticipated span a variety of settings. One which presented itself fairly early was connecting across language barriers. Since my hostel room includes four beds but only three students from Duke, we have a roommate. Although we spend little time here, I believe it is important to know a bit about the people around you, especially when their bed is only a couple of feet from yours. During our introductions, we learned that our roommate did not speak English particularly well, complicating one of the easiest ways of interacting with someone. Still, she was willing to tell us a bit about herself and her trip, which immediately increased the sense of community already inherent in Lucky D’s. We communicated briefly in the mornings and evenings, and the fairly universal language of facial expressions never failed us. Though we never got into deep discussions, I appreciated that we easily acknowledged and smiled at each other in the hostel’s common areas and that we were inclusive and open enough for her to feel comfortable asking us any questions she had (and willing to open the door for me the many times I left my key).
Another difficulty I hadn’t anticipated arose as we met with more organizations and concerns the distinction between sex work and sex trafficking. In more general terms, it was frustrating to see the extent to which measures must be taken with side effects and execution of legislation in mind. Issues could not be focused only on morality or what is just. They had to be approached through the very limiting screen of legislative and enforcement feasibility.