On Wednesday, April 10th, 2019, Peace Islands Institute CT held the “9th Annual Friendship Dinner and Awards Ceremony” event at the New Haven Lawn Club. This year, the event theme was announced as “Immigration and Human Trafficking”. During cocktail hour, guests were able to view a critical photo exhibit which included photos depicting the recent tragedies related to human trafficking and immigration. This exhibit specifically showed issues revolving around human trafficking complications in Turkey and Venezuela. The immigration part of the exhibit was shown through photos of refugees who came to Connecticut through Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRIS) in New Haven.
The night was followed by dinner and ceremony who was hosted by, Dr. Sean Duffy, Exec. Director of Albert Schweitzer Inst. & Professor of Politic Science at Quinnipiac University. Peace Islands had a Panel Discussion regarding the theme of the night where two distinguished guest speakers were invited; Chris George, Director of IRIS and Wesleigh Anderson, a legal attorney at Connecticut Legal Services. The panel discussion revolved around the most prevalent factors that are propelling human movement as they interact with it, what (if anything) has been emerging to modify and refine these dynamics, and how we (members of the civil society in the US/CT) can be of better support for those who move into, or through our communities. Guests were able to ask questions to the speakers which sparked further discussion among tables.
The panel discussion was followed by the award ceremony. The 2019 award titles were Statesperson Award, Humanitarian Award, Media Award, and Community Leader Award. The Statesperson Award was given to Honorary Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz of CT. The Humanitarian Award was given to Tammy M. Sneed Director of Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team (HART) which was created in order to focus on and reduce the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). Since 2008, over 800 children have been referred to DCF as possible victims of DMST. The Media Award was given to Marcus Harun, Executive Producer of Morning News FOX 61. The Community Leader Award was given to Dr. Priya Tandon, President of SNEHA Inc, which works to support and empower women, particularly survivors of domestic violence and assists in acculturation situations that arise from lack of traditional family support or unfamiliarity with United States laws/resources.
The turnout of the event was spectacular thanks to our distinguished guests, including Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Representative Kevin Ryan, peace activists, policy advisers, community leaders, and academics from a variety of fields. Annual dinners serve the purpose of advocating and raising awareness among our society and awarding those in recognition of their dedication and outstanding efforts to build ‘peace islands’ within the world. We would like to thank all of our guests, event sponsors, and PII-CT volunteers, who contributed to this memorable event.