Harmonizing Theory and Practice, CEU Student Mădălina Boț Contributes to Vienna Event for World Day Against Trafficking

Mădălina Boț is pursuing a Masters in International Relations at Central European University (CEU) and has been working with the International Forum for Understanding as Communications Officer since May.

On July 30, to mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the International Forum’s event, Breaking Free from Human Trafficking: An Interactive Event and Exhibition for 2021, on which Boț is a collaborator, will take place at the Vienna School for International Studies and online with a broadcast from 6-7:30pm CET.

The online event features a panel, interactive discussions and performances, and the corresponding exhibition in Vienna highlights the opinions and artistic expression of those with lived experience in human trafficking. An edited version of CEU’s July 22 conversation with Boț  is below.

What is the relationship between your International Relations studies at CEU and your work with the International Forum for Understanding?

For my dissertation at CEU, I'm focused on the integration of mental health, which should be more pervasive in the study of international relations. This will be my sixth year of studying international relations. So now I understand better the need to include psychology-informed perspectives in the conventional approaches. At CEU I could expand into a multidisciplinary perspective including different sectors.

Mental health is very present within the events I’m helping to organize, as well as affect theory and how music, sound and art in general offer a more comprehensive engagement with a lived experience. Although I can criticize it from various perspectives, social media can be nevertheless a great venue for doing this. At the International Forum for Understanding, I’m working at integrating the theory from CEU into practice.

Can you talk about the event you’re helping to organize in conjunction with the July 30 World Day Against Trafficking?

The event is part of the larger structure that we're following: Every month, SDG2030.me, which is under the organizational umbrella of the International Forum for Understanding, highlights one of the various sustainable development goals and prepares related activities through multimedia offerings which engage and connect people. In July we’re focused on human trafficking, which is also part of the mission and vision of the International Forum for Understanding. We wanted to make the event hybrid and dynamic taking place both onsite in Vienna and also online.

At the Vienna school of International Studies, the onsite component focuses on the exhibition at the art gallery and live performances that will be staged by a couple of our speakers. The majority of the speakers will be part of the global online component since they are all over the world. The International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC), a new initiative launched by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) this year, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, the Anti-Slavery Collective  are involved and we hope this will be an opportunity to learn from the lived experiences of the speakers.

Kendall Alaimo is one of the featured speakers, and we hope the event can be a platform for her message, among others whom we aim to showcase. You’ll have to tune in on July 30 to hear her launch a brilliant initiative.

What else would you like to express to CEU’s global community?

I've been extremely active back home with NGOs in Bucharest and then at CEU I was more focused on theory, which is a great strength of the department. With this event, I feel I'm harmonizing these two experiences and I see how I can combine my passion for how linguistic nuance operates in conjunction with emotional potencies expressed through sharing individual lived experiences. I read as much as I can, but concepts fall into place only when connected with lived experience.

Even the word “survivor” is cognitively charged and can be stigmatized in the discourse. That's why we discuss people with “lived experience”. It's their choice how they want to describe something. Harmonizing is something I’m aiming for by allowing myself to organize events with sensitivity and emotional intelligence.

To attend the July 30 event, Breaking Free from Human Trafficking: An Interactive Event and Exhibition for 2021, register here.