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2019 Human Trafficking or Social Justice Law Clinic Fellows

Brandon Bond, BA Biopsychology, Cognition, Neuroscience; BA International Studies ‘20
Polos de Cidadania
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  

This summer I had the opportunity to work with and observe Polos de Cidadania, which is an organization that works to provide aid and opportunities for community outreach and engaged learning. Polos consists of various departments that approach major issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, and human rights violations in an interdisciplinary way. I had the opportunity to visit and learn about each of the departments in Polos. I learned about Acaba Mundo (End of the World), which was named after a small part of town that is known for its poverty, lack of infrastructure, and mistreatment from the local government and political powers. Acaba Mundo had three main tasks: help people in the area acknowledge their rights, meditate deals between and within the Acaba Mundo community and outside political and business organizations, and finally help with property ownership claims. The coordinator of this program explained the complexity of many of the issues faced in this community. Although the community faced many hardships, they were able to develop more and have more autonomy in their lives because they functioned as a community and not as individuals. The Polos Acaba Mundo team worked to ensure that this community felt empowered and had the resources and knowledge needed to strengthen their fight for justice, autonomy, and human rights.

Whitley Mann
U-M Law School ‘21 
Anti-Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) School of Law  
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil  

Coming into this experience as a law student and having a well-founded understanding of the American judicial system, I was most eager to compare and contrast the inner workings of the Brazilian judicial system to our own. Much of what I found surprised me. Having this experience in the Brazilian judicial system as well as my deeper understanding of the Brazilian law school system and legal profession has already made an impact in my career. I’ve recently completed the on campus interview process in which I was able to discuss my understanding of the Brazilian judicial system. This was of particular interest to the firm I chose to work with next summer. They are a Miami based firm with a good deal of work in central and south America. After gaining a few years of experience practicing law, I hope to transfer my knowledge and understanding of international law and human rights issues to a position at a non-profit organization. My goal for my career is to work specifically with women and women’s issues in the international human rights context. While the UMFG clinic focused on the slave labor and labor trafficking definitions of human trafficking, my time at the UMFG clinic was invaluable in its demonstration of how a well-trained advocate can make an impact on those whose voices are muffled or silenced.

Karuna Nandkumar, BS International Studies ‘21
Anti-Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) School of Law  
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

When I arrived in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in May, I didn’t speak any Portuguese. After five weeks at the UFMG Law School Human Trafficking Clinic interning with Judge Carol Henrique Haddad, I led a classroom discussion entirely in Portuguese on human trafficking law and immigration law in the U.S. This is reflective of my experience as a whole in Brazil, which gave me the opportunity to support an important cause while immersing myself in the local language and culture. Overall, this program embodies the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) values of intercultural exchange and global understanding. I was able to learn far more about Brazilian law, politics, language, and culture through this five-week experience than I could have in a traditional classroom setting. The program also solidified my desire to pursue international diplomacy and human rights work, promoting cross-cultural exchange. I plan to continue learning Portuguese and return to Brazil in the future.

Emily Pfleiderer
U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Master of Public Policy; U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, Master of Science ‘21
Anti-Slave Labor and Human Trafficking Clinic
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) School of Law  
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil  

This summer, I participated in an internship/cultural exchange with Human Trafficking and Slave Labor law clinic at the Federal University of Minas Gerais law school. I participated in academic and cultural activities and dialogued with the law students about cultural practices and governmental policies in the United States. At the clinic’s request, I recorded a video in Portuguese for their YouTube channel about my previous work as a paralegal who worked with detained immigrant children. Since some of the children were at risk for trafficking, the clinic was curious to learn about associated legal services in the United States. A UFMG student kindly edited my script and the video. I also gave a presentation in Portuguese to the clinic regarding conducting legal screenings with vulnerable populations. The presentation was based on my paralegal experience. It included tips on establishing rapport, best practices when the client is not fluent in Portuguese, and links to further resources on interviewing potential human trafficking victims. I provided feedback on the clinic’s legal intake, including suggestions on adding more inclusive language and follow-up questions. It is my goal to eventually work in Latin America, as such, this fellowship opportunity allowed me to build a professional and academic network in Belo Horizonte. By giving a presentation, attending court hearings, and participating in an informational interview in Portuguese, I was able to advance my goal of using Portuguese in a variety of contexts. I was also curious about how the labor legal system functions in Brazil and through this fellowship, was able to gain a better understanding of its advantages and shortcomings in serving justice.