When College of Charleston student and soon-to-be alumna Ciera Jones strides across the Cistern on May 11, 2013 and accepts her diploma, it won’t be for chemistry – her original intended major. Instead Jones will receive a degree in psychology, following a passion she found while at the College. She is on a mission to end sex slavery and trafficking in Cambodia.
Jones was inspired by the PBS documentary series “Half the Sky” which, according to the series’ website, “introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable — and fighting bravely to change them.” It was the Somaly Mam Foundation that piqued her interest. Jones explains, “Somaly Mam was herself a sex-worker, and after her escape, she made the necessary moves to start this foundation in order to rescue other girls who were like her. How could I not want to be a part of something like that?”
It inspired her to travel to Cambodia during Maymester 2012 Professors Helen Delfeld and Jen Wright, where they studied the issues of sex slavery and child sex tourism. Following graduation, Jones hopes to travel to Cambodia again, to get more answers and satisfy her curiosity.
“I’ll be doing anything that will help me get to the bottom of the issue. That probably means some good ‘old school’ research – finding books, articles, and documents. And I hope to be able to actually speak with survivors to deepen my understanding of the issues.”
To help her undertake this summer’s humanitarian research, Jones is raising funds through the website GoFundMe.com.
Through her College years, Jones has been involved, volunteering in the greater Charleston community as well as at the College. She has participated in the Higdon Leadership Center’s programs and is a volunteer with People Against Rape. During the 2013 spring semester she completed an internship with the College’s Office of Victim Services.