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Hi everyone! My name is Kristiana Gambuti and I am a rising junior double majoring in psychology and English. I am doing my DukeEngage independent project in Costa Mesa, California with an anti-human trafficking organization, A21.

I have been in SoCal for about a week and have been learning a lot about the area, the people and my community partner. A21 stands for abolishing slavery in the 21st century. Their goal is to reach, rescue and restore victims of human trafficking and prosecute perpetrators of the crime. A21 has 13 global offices in 12 different countries and just celebrated its 10th anniversary! In the past decade, they have grown exponentially and have helped hundreds of survivors of human trafficking find freedom. Because human trafficking is so intricate and multi-faceted, they have a lot of different people on their global team, from lawyers and accountants to psychologists and marketers. It has been really amazing to be able to meet all the incredible staff members and fellow volunteers in the Global Support Office in Costa Mesa and continue to learn more about what the fight to end modern-day slavery looks like. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world that generates over $150 billion every year—this fight is an important one.

Orange county has a population of over 3.1 million people with a relatively low median age (37.7). It has a large population of Hispanic and Asian residents, so it has been awesome to see different cultures layered together in this shared space. However, the cost of living is high and thus, the area is mostly dominated by wealthy families. I have definitely quickly learned just how expensive it is to live here.

The weather has been really incredible, although May Gray and June Gloom are DEFINITELY a thing—I think today is only the third time I’ve seen the sun in the past week. I am so excited to finally start work in my department this week since last week was focused on general orientation and training. I know this summer is going to be full of growth and learning and I am eager to see what the next 12 weeks hold!

Our A21 in Costa Mesa volunteer community!
A21’s mission statement on the wall of the office