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Anjalee Sharma’s LOA Packet

by on May 4, 2011

I found this class remarkable in the way it was structured. Not until I really look back at the five points of this LOA do I really understand the impact it had on me. Firstly, this class is the first of its kind that I have encountered at UMD. It was so open that each group could employ its own learning style in order to complete their project. As I think back on the course, I realize that I have not only learned a lot about sex work in world, but also different ways in which to work with one another to reach a common goal.

I can easily look at the topic my group picked and see how it relates to women’s studies. Sex work, especially looking at sex work without a negative connotation is basically up to people in women’s studies. Otherwise, many people have a negative view of it, and it wouldn’t be explored further. But what’s cool with our topic is that our specific goal was to destigmatize and educate about sex work because of the heavy negative stigma associated with it. This was a perfect way, to me, to bring in social media. What better way could my group and I try to reach so many people about a topic that’s so negatively looked at? We tried to figure out how to educate people about what sex work is using a blog, a world map of sex work facts, and a survey that we promoted through Facebook. Even though I already knew how to use Facebook and WordPress, I felt like I was using it for better reasons than just to stay connected. I think I finally felt productive with social media, which seems like a feat to me.

Even through using these social media connections, I still felt that the three of us in the group could never be exactly on top of things we were doing for the project because of changing our minds on what we wanted to do. But what helped a lot was keeping a Facebook thread, texting, emailing, and also sharing all usernames and passwords for our project in order to stay connected with one other. I, especially, felt a little behind on this issue because both Kara and Jana have experience with HIPS, and just know more about the world of sex work. But I also think that because we were able to stay connected, they could explain things that were useful in research and general knowledge.

I think what I got most out of this project, including understanding a more productive side to social media, was to learn about aspects of sex work I didn’t know existed. I knew women’s studies would be related to this topic, but I just didn’t know where to begin with it. I thought that the stance we took was amazing because it called for human rights, which people question when it comes to sex work. I got to read legal documents from different countries and look at media in different countries in relation to sex work that was interesting and informative. In doing research for this, it was critical to site properly and read careful to really understand the legal implications of sex work in different countries of the world. Without proper documentation, our point of being “sex positive” would be lost.

What really pulled our project together, I thought, was the conference. We got to talk about our project with others familiar and unfamiliar with sex work. I felt that this helped us look at our project in different dimensions and also poke holes in it and make it stronger. This was a great way to learn about what we were doing because of the questions people asked us. Further, I think that in presenting our project to other people, we understood the implications and statements we were making.

As I read over this reflection and think about this semester, I now see how important a class like this is. It allows students to come up with an issue they really care about and actively try to make difference. This is hugely important to me because I don’t think any other UMD class lets you pick the issue and have hands on access to making a difference. Even though we are a research school, most classes are very much theory. Having hands on experience like this is so relevant for real world work experience because of the process and prototyping that we go through. This class taught me how to go through processes and the prototyping stages that will be integral to my career in advocacy.

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