Sex Trafficking In Atlanta Is A Huge Deal

Human sex trafficking is a huge issue in our American society, but we don’t hear about it nearly enough. In a 2016 survey, Atlanta was the second largest city to have sex trafficking calls (per capita) at 317,000 people. I’ve lived right on the border of Atlanta since 2015 and I’ve only started seeing sex trafficking billboards in the past few months. This wasn’t something that happened overnight, this has been growing while most of us weren’t even aware of it.

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In 2018 alone, there was 157 human trafficking cases alone and 65 calls from survivors. To make it scarier, there was even a case in the county I live in. There was a 15-year-old girl who had escaped after being forced to have sex with three men prior to calling authorities. She had been forced to have sex every single day for three days in August. Just last month, my county ordered a “court-approved agreement” to the hotel the girl had been at to make changes to avoid losing the property. The county is making some strides in the right direction, but what about our capital?

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Atlanta is home to many conventions, whether it be for sports or music or cosplay. It’s a great place to express yourself and find fun activities. Of course, this comes with a price. These huge events are susceptible to sex trafficking since there are so many people that are there and so many that come from out of town. A study from 2014 stated that Atlanta was once the number one spot for sex trafficking and that around 300 young girls are trafficked every single month. Despite this, there was an event recently that had a large number of sex trafficking. You probably guessed it: The Super Bowl.

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The Super Bowl 53 was held this month in Atlanta and authorities alerted everyone to stay inside as much as possible because of the sex trafficking. Of course, it was inevitable to stay inside constantly during the hectic few weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. During the 11 days leading up to the Super Bowl, 169 people were arrested for involvement in sex trafficking, where 26 were actual sex traffickers.

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While I may be late in the day, today (Feburary 7th, 2019) is Shine A Light On Slavery Day. A movement called End It has been huge in informing the public on the realities of sex trafficking. They use donations to fund projects to end sex trafficking around the globe, so if you can help out please do. There are also other organizations that can be found in Atlanta, such as Out Of Darkness and Tabitha’s House. There are other resources you can learn about of course but here is one example. Stay alert, look out for one another and stay informed.

A Tribute To My Childhood Dog

This isn’t meant to be a sad story, even though it has a sad ending. The journey it took to get to the end was full of love, laughs and fun. As hard as it is to lose a pet, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I was beyond blessed with the perfect dog named Roxy.

Meeting Roxy

Roxy as a puppy.

Roxy was born in 2003, which would mean that I was around 6 years old. That being said, I can’t clearly remember how we came to rescue Roxy. All I know is that we rescued her and took her to my father’s fire department where he worked and the rest was history. She always had so much energy. She was constantly running around our large backyard, sometimes even jumping clean over our extremely tall fences. She was a spectacular dog.

She was my constant. She was always there for me growing up and always had so much love to give to everyone. She never bit anyone, was never aggressive, and always listened to commands. There wasn’t a single person, family or friend, who didn’t adore her.

Roxy and I when I was in elementary school.

Growing Up

Like Bella, she was there for me from elementary school up until college. She was there since I was 6 years old until I was 21. That’s a really long time and I am incredibly thankful for my time with her. She had a really full life of camping and exploring and meeting all sorts of dogs. She had countless walks to burn off her energy and so many play sessions in the house with me. She was also given tons of treats. She was even blessed by a priest when I was in Catholic school and we had “Pet Blessing Day”!

Roxy and me on “Pet Blessing Day”.

When we got our dachshund Bella, there was no need for adjustment. Roxy took her in with so many kisses and so much love. They truly were sisters. They always knew when the other wasn’t around and were pretty much always in the same room, unless Bella was sleeping in my bed with me. During the last several years of her life, Roxy would always soak Bella’s ears in her wet kisses every single morning like clockwork. The two were inseparable.

Growing up, I also had several guinea pigs (6 at once, to be specific). Roxy adored the guinea pigs. She never ever tried to hurt them. She just always wanted to be in their presence and sniff them and give them a bath in kisses. She truly loved everyone and everything.

Roxy and “her” guinea pig.

While Bella shaped my photography more, Roxy was also one of my subjects for practice. She had more energy than Bella, so she required more effort to get her to stand still for long sessions. Nonetheless, she was still an amazing help to my hobby. I also got to spend a lot of alone time with her and bond with her while taking photos of her. I make my mother personal calendars every year for Christmas. In 2017, I took an entire day to photograph Roxy at a nearby beach to make a calendar all about Roxy (since we knew her time was coming to an end). It was still the best thing I ever did with her.

The Ending Of Her Life

Her life was long, but that didn’t make saying goodbye any easier. In the summer of 2018, I got a call from my parents about her failing health. For the first time in her long life, she had a seizure. It took away her quality of life. By that, I mean that she could no longer walk. Mind you, this dog was running around up and down mountains until that point. When I got the call and how she needed to be put down so she was no longer in pain, I dropped everything to make sure I would make it up to spend time with her on her last day.

I don’t go home often since I’m in college but seeing her in that poor state of health destroyed me. I sat on the bathroom floor where she was, unable to move herself, and just cried with my head pressed to her forehead. I apologized over and over that I couldn’t do anything to take away her pain and keep her around longer. It felt like my entire body was breaking down as her head laid in my lap while she struggled to breathe.

On her last day, I did everything in my power to make her feel loved. My boyfriend, my father and I took her to McDonald’s. We got her a McDouble with only meat, cheese and ketchup with a side of large fries. We sat in my pickup, her and my boyfriend in the back seat, and she ate the entire burger in one bite. We all fed her fries one by one until she had her fill. Then we went back home until her appointment at the vet.

As difficult as it was to say goodbye, I’m so thankful that I had the chance to do so. While I tried to make every time I had with her happy and memorable, I loved being able to give her a wonderful final day. I even had my good friend from high school, who is a vet assistant as she gets her veterinary degree, to help put her to sleep.

This tribute isn’t for her ending, but to remember everything that came before that. This tribute is to make her memory last longer than she did, because she deserves that. She touched many lives and made people become dog lovers. She was the first dog to show me what unconditional love was and I am eternally grateful to her.

A Tribue To My Best Friend

Let me start out by saying that this is a happy story. It has a sad ending, but the journey was full of so much love and joy. It’s been almost 1 month since I learned of the news and my heart is still breaking. I’ve never felt a love this strong or a loss this difficult. Let’s start at the beginning.

The Initial Meeting

Bella as a tiny puppy.

We had rescued an Australian Shepard (mix), named Roxy, recently but wanted a second dog. We were just leaving a pet store in South Florida with dog food when we saw a family with a black dachshund puppy. Curiously, my mother asked where they had gotten her and the family explained that she was a rescue. They gave us the information and we investigated to see if there was any more. Sure enough, there was. A small, chocolate dachshund was left. She was the runt of the litter and born to an abusive breeder. She had a skin condition where her fur was patchy and her skin was flaky. The end of her tail was a curled up little nub and she had a personality like no other. My parents and I went to see her on a rainy evening and my mom fell in love. My father and I weren’t so sure. “I mean, look at her,” I thought to myself back in 2005. “She barely has any fur. She looks more like a rat than a dog.”

Nonetheless, my mother insisted on getting her. So, with Roxy panting through the car window, we got into our old white Lincoln and drove to a Target to get her a collar. Roxy was more interested in her than I was. I would just stare at her from the corner of my eye, stubbornly thinking “This isn’t going to be fun.” Regardless, this small little dachshund looked up at me with her brown eyes and decided to make herself comfy on my lap. She curled up into a perfectly small ball and immediately fell asleep, despite her new Australian Shepard sister trying to sniff her. I sat there for a moment, staring at this brown animal peacefully curled on my lap, and knew that we would be best friends for life.

Growing Up

Not only was I growing up, but I had my best friend growing up right along side me. While she didn’t get too much bigger physically, her personality grew exponentially. She also got to experience a lot of new things with me. My family often joked about just how much she was able to experience.

She had gone camping with us and was secretly brought onto a canoe via a large waterproof bag. She rode bikes with me, skateboarded with me and was brought into department stores inside a purse despite there being strict “no dog” policies. She swam in our home pool, traveled to Michigan during a 14 hour road trip, and took many walks around Florida and Georgia. She was once bitten by a neighborhood dog and got all fixed up, thanks to my father and some super glue (I’m not kidding but don’t worry, her vet was fine with the procedure). She loved on many of my guinea pigs and had countless car rides. She was the definition of spoiled.

Bella and Roxy with some guinea pigs.

There was also a lot of help that she provided for me and we provided for her. Like I mentioned, her fur was very patchy and her skin had flakes. She also smelled really bad. It took some time to experiment, but we eventually found the right food that helped her fur grow back and that mixing Borax with vinegar helped with her flakes and smell. Then there’s the typical pet owner stuff like keeping her safe and vaccinated and keeping her warm and giving her medicine when she needed it and food. She also helped me. She could sense when I was sick and was at my side. She helped my depression. She helped motivate me on bad days. She encouraged me to learn ukulele by falling asleep every time I played. She helped shape me into who I am now.

She watched me go from elementary school into middle school, graduate middle school and start my first public high school, move from Florida to Georgia and start a Georgia high school, graduate from high school and start college. She was there for me at my highs and my lows. She slept in my bed with me every single night for her 14 years of life. She was there for every breakup, every new friend, every school project. She was there when I was kicked out of college and slept on my lap when I was filling out countless paperwork to fix my GPA and get back into school. She was there when family members died and new family members entered into the world. She was a constant in so many lives, but especially mine.

My Photography Guinea Pig

By the time I was in 8th grade, I started to get an interest in photography. I would use my guinea pigs and random objects around my room (books, stuffed animals, a guitar), but my best subject was Bella. She was so patient with me and allowed me to practice my hobby.

I learned about ISO and f stops and filters and shutter speed all because of her. The more photos I took of her, the better my photography became. It was also a bonding moment. I’d take her places so I could have interesting backgrounds but it was also just really nice to have time with her. No internet, no friends, no one but her and I. The older she got, the more patient she became and the more photos I took.

Her Senior Years

Bella in the sun.

She really started getting old around the time we move to Georgia in 2012. She got chunkier, furrier and had a grayer mustache. She slept more, was lazier, and quieter. However, she was always healthy. She never showed signs that her time was coming closer. That’s why I completely broke down when I heard the news of her passing.

I’m a college student, which means I’m rarely home. Prior to the news of her passing, I had come up during the summer of 2018 to spend two days with my Australian Shepard, Roxy, on her last day. While I hated to see her go, I was grateful to have gotten to spend her last day with her and have time to plan for her passing. With Bella, it was unexpected for everyone. She had passed in her sleep with no warning. My mom found her when she woke up, still in her dog bed.

It’s been 1 month now. My heart is still aching, knowing that she’s no longer on this earth with me. It’s hard for me to ever remember a time where she wasn’t alive. It’s tempting to cry alone and wonder “did she know how much I loved her?” but I keep reminding myself that yes, she did.

I was lucky. I got 12 amazing years with her. I had her since I was around 9 years old. I’m 21 now, so I spent a good chunk of my life with her. Dogs die every day in all sorts of ways in all sorts of places. My dog isn’t some special case, but she was incredibly special to me. I wasn’t there on her last day, but I wrote this post so that her memory can live on a little longer. She deserves that, at the very least.

Rest in peace, my best friend.

Claudia Rankine and Her Powerful Poetry

Claudia Rankine is a modern-day poet who sought to advocate the injustice in America done to her fellow African American people. Her poetry in Citizen: An American Lyric is an unusual yet powerful collection since it does not follow any typical poetry devices such as meter, rhyme or formal structure. All of the pieces in this collection flow freely and are compromised in sections that focus on either macroaggressions or microaggressions along with visual images. There in a contrast in language between her examples of microaggressions and macroaggressions, which adds to the impact of her poetry.

In section two of her poetry, Rankine focuses on the macroaggressions against Serena Williams. Serena is a famous black tennis player who had gone through injustices based on her race, which Rankine expresses through her unique poetry style in this section. Within this section is a quote by Zora Neale Hurston which reads “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a white background.” This quote is incredibly significant because it encapsulates the theme of Rankine’s entire collection and is repeated multiple times throughout the collection. This quote expresses what life is truly like“for all black bodies” and allows any race to clearly understand the injustice.

The way that racism works is literally skin deep; Racism makes your skin color and body the only meaningful part of who you are. Rankine even expresses the admiration she had for Serena Williams during a macroaggression on the courts. Rankine identifies the injustice being done and seems even relieved that Serena finally speaks up rather than sit there and accept what is happening to her. Rankine continues to push the recurring idea of black bodies in America in section two of her book.

As offensive as her outburst is,
it is difficult not to applaud her for reacting immediately
to being thrown against a sharp white background. It is
difficult not to applaud her for existing in the moment,
for fighting crazily against the so-called wrongness of her
body’s positioning at the service line.

            On page 35, Rankine includes a photograph of a statue by Nick Cave called Thick Skin. This image’s purpose is to intensify the message she is trying to get across; The image portrays how the statue hides gender, race and class which therefore prevents labeling. By preventing labeling, racism cannot exist in our society yet there is no way to prevent labeling outside of art. It also provides the idea that if there was away to hide our identity, there would be no individuality and we as individuals would lack purpose.

            Serena Williams continued to pursue her dream of tennis even though many people “felt her black body didn’t belong on their court.” Serena’s hardships resulted in quick fixes for the future, including the addition of the Hawkeye. Rankine stated that this new technology “took the seeing away from the beholder”; A phrase which alludes to the common saying“beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Rankine phrases it this way because it takes away some of the power from the umpire and makes it more difficult for outlandish calls to be made against Serena Williams.

Rankine focuses on Serena Williams besides the fact that she is a Black woman but because she is an athlete. Rankine has an understanding that athletes were the ones who were able to break the boundaries of race to become famous and successful, regardless of the color of their skin or the background they are against. Rankine even alludes to the past when Black people were considered property:

While putting forward the arug-
ment that one needs to be white to be truly successful, 
he adds, in an aside, that this might not work for blacks
because if “a n-gger paints a flower it becomes a slavery 
flower, flower de Amistad,” thereby intimating that any
relationship between the white view and the black artist
immediately becomes one between white persons and 
black property.

            Lastly, Rankine includes one last photograph in this Serena Williams section: an image of a famous white tennis player who stuffed her bra and butt with towels to imitate Serena. This photograph describes how the public had wanted a white woman with the same amount of talent as Serena, yet Serena never stopped being her best and being one of the greatest Black women Americans have ever seen. The photograph encapsulates the injusticeSerena has had to face in her career and why she was “traumatized by the aggression” in the sport she loved.

How I Came to be an English Major

At age 3, I almost made my mother faint by reading the word “zoom” off of a billboard with no assistance needed from her. That’s basically when my parents knew reading would be the biggest part of my life. My parents were not big readers, unless you count the Bible my father had on his bedside table. My mother has always been my biggest support system when it came to my love of reading. She would buy me YA books whenever she could and eventually started her own journey in avid reading because of me. The importance of reading started the day my parents adopted me.

My parents would read me a book every night without fail because they believed it would make me more intelligent. However, they only read me old nursery rhymes and the Berenstain Bears. Besides my child level books, we didn’t have many other books in the house. My father didn’t have the attention span to read anything but the Bible and my mom was too busy taking care of me. I was formally taught how to read in my Catholic school. When I came home one night and read perfectly out of a textbook, my mother cried tears of joy. From that day, she began to take me to a library nearby where she and I would stay and look at books for hours.

After my classmates and I were taught how to read, we were then allowed to go to our school library. The library was separated into two sections: one for the elementary school children and one for the middle schoolers. We had reading quizzes we had to take, and the school realized that I was far above the rest of my peers and allowed me to read in the other section. Something I had prided myself on in elementary school was being allowed to read books in the “big kid section” years before anyone else my age. The thing that piqued my interest in reading the most were the Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books. These were the books that made me want to write and read more. These were dark enough to please my soul and much more of a challenge for me to read, which I enjoyed. Needless to say, a lot of my friends quickly became concerned about me once they realized what I enjoyed reading.

As I got older, I was officially diagnosed with chronic depression and generalized anxiety. I had poor mental health my whole life but wasn’t recognized until I was in high school. Once in high school, I proceeded to start writing my own stories. Most of them were short and primitive with such dark themes that it worried my religious peers. Most were about my life and trying to personify my depression while others were dark twists on fantasy creatures like mermaids.

My early writing was terrible. Because of my mental illnesses not allowing me to focus, I would jump from one subject to the next in my stories and nothing ever made sense. For obvious reasons, this infuriated me and resulted in never finishing a single story I have ever written. This annoying habit has even followed me into academic papers where I will have to go back into my paper and add a paragraph or two. With time and patience, I’ve learned how to work my habit so it no longer hinders me.

Once I started college, I tried to give up my love of reading and writing. I was told by many people in my life that pursuing a degree in something like that would only serve to be a waste of money and time. I started as a computer science major, which ultimately made me more depressed. I didn’t go to a single class for months because my interest in my major wasn’t there. By the end of summer semester 2016, I was kicked out of college for my awful GPA. In those two semesters I was kicked out, I had absolutely no responsibility or job. I had a lot of time to look inside myself and analyze what went wrong and what I can change to be better.

In the summer of 2017, I lived in Michigan for 3 months to work before returning to college in the fall. While in Michigan, I picked my passion of reading up again with newfound friends who shared my love. The book that really brought me back was Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. I ate that book up within a week and regained that feeling of the real world melt from around me and the book come to life in my head. I decided to be selfish and change my major, even if it didn’t make as much money as my previous major.

There isn’t a second I regret switching majors. I regained a piece of who I am and became happier to go to class. Being happier in my major and life overall gave me the confidence to apply to write for the Odyssey here at Kennesaw State, which I have now been writing for since September of 2017. I began to actively try to expand my vocabulary in my free time and gained an amazing support system. My mother expresses how proud she is of me each and every day. My boyfriend expresses his interest in my major by learning along with me and always boosting my confidence when I allow him to read what I’ve written.

I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my major. Initially, it was to teach, but now I’m minoring in professional writing. However, the courses for my major interest me and make me excited for the future. My support system continues to push me on difficult days when I need it most as well. All of these things are the only proof I need to know that I am on the right track for my life and future.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Professional Writing Courses Teach You More Than Just Professional Writing

When I first entered Dr. Haimes-Korn’s Professional Writing Course in August of 2018, I was very apprehensive. As she detailed what we would be doing in her course for the semester, my social anxiety told me to drop the class the second she mentioned we would be interviewing strangers. Against that voice in my head, I stayed with the class and I am incredibly happy that I did. I have grown as a writer, as a student, and as a person by sticking with this class.

My content design team for my professional writing course.

This course teaches you so much more than professional writing. One of the most useful things I learned in this class was how to work within a content design team made up of fellow students. I learned how to provide useful feedback and how to take constructive criticism to make my writing even better. I even learned from my teammates to stop making those same mistakes in my future writings throughout the course. Most importantly, I learned how to work as a team and collaborate with my group, which wasn’t what I had anticipated considering group work in college is usually the worst. It was an added bonus that I really like my team members. I’ll always be grateful to my team members Allyson, Caroline, and Donna for helping me grow personally and always helping with my writing.

Another thing I learned about was what experiential reviews are. Not only that, but I learned that I love them. I actually love them so much that I actually wrote two, one of which wasn’t even an assignment for class. By learning to write experiential reviews, I observe new places with a new eye. I take in everything about the place I’m visiting, from sounds to smells. For example, when I visited The Masquerade, I observed that the venue “smells of old antiques and is dimly lit with gothic chandeliers”, which isn’t something I would have normally noticed.  I was able to really immerse myself in the experience of seeing that concert, knowing I would have to write about it later. This assignment made me want to write about more places and immerse myself even further in the future.

This course also helped me understand who I am as a person, as well as a writer, better than before. Through our professional identity and marketing skills assignment, I was able to really understand who I am and express that to others through my blog. I learned that “I tend to focus on my communication skills, organizational skills, and time management skills. I can learn new tasks quickly, communicate effectively, and strive to do tasks to the best of my ability.” By completing that assignment, I learned who I am to employers and in the job market while being able to express that coherently through writing. That assignment alone provided a lot of help with my future goals.

Our final project in the course was probably the most challenging for myself, which was to interview someone and write an article for the Rescue Dog Olympics held in Atlanta. This assignment was my first time having to perform a journalistic style interview with someone I didn’t know and write up an article detailing what that person had told me. The most intense part was the interview itself. However, after interviewing with my assigned client, I realized that I learned so much as a writer and as an individual.

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Rescue dog River from my spotlight article for Rescue Dog Olympics.

Given my mental health, I thought I would inevitably fail the task but quickly realized that wasn’t the case. I first hand learned how to hold a conversation with a client in order to get information to write an article, and it really wasn’t all that bad. I actually had fun doing it, which made me realize I was much stronger than I give myself credit for. Writing up the actual article, I learned how to convert questions and answers into an easy to follow story that was engaging and heartwarming. My article was all about a rescue dog named River and I actually have great pride in being able to tell her story. This assignment helped me realize the potential I have as a writer and opened a new career interest for me.

This website is my ongoing writing portfolio, and this class was an amazing way to jumpstart it. I not only learned how to write experiential reviews and journalistic articles, but I learned how to create interesting infographics and how to create engaging blog posts. Outside of writing, I learned how to branch away from my comfort zone, work within a group, and understand who I am as an individual. This class was a great joy to take and I will forever be grateful for ignoring that inner voice that told me to switch classes at the beginning of the semester because I would have missed out on so many great opportunities to grow as a writer and as a person.

What My Skills and Professional Identity Looks Like

My name is Arianna Lentini. I am an English major who has a minor in professional writing and I am currently working in retail. When working, I tend to focus on my communication skills, organizational skills, and time management skills. I can learn new tasks quickly, communicate effectively, and strive to do tasks to the best of my ability.

After using several of the different transferable skills checklists provided in class, I’ve found that I have several skills such as above average listening skills, organizational skills, adaptability skills, and the ability to work under pressure. While these are only a few of the many skills I’ve found that I have, they seem to be some of the most important skills. All of these important skills can easily be used in any career field I choose to go in with my English degree and can also help me in my courses now.

I’ve spent many months looking for internships on LinkedIn and careers in general. The keywords I typically have used are creative writing, writing, content creator, and social media marketing. Looking for jobs outside of retail, I have noticed that I really need to work on my teamwork skills, which I have been working on throughout my professional writing course. I am a very independent person who loves to work alone, but I recognize that working in a team is typically more effective. That is the largest skill I feel that I need to work on. I also feel that I need much more experience to truly be the best I can be at my given career path.

One of the websites I used to assess myself was located at I discovered that my listenings skills were above average, which means that I am more likely to enjoy more meaningful relationships and are less likely to misunderstand what others are communicating – I don’t just hear what is being said, but bring together the verbal and non-verbal signals to gain an accurate interpretation of other people’s views and opinions.  I also learned that my verbal communication was also above average, which means I normally use appropriate language and know when to talk, and when not to talk.  Having good verbal communication means that I can express yourself well to others – explaining my ideas and opinions in such a way that they are usually understood by others.

However, not all of my scores were as great. My skills in communication in groups was well below average, which means I am not particularly confident about communicating in group situations. I learned that working on my verbal communication and listening skills will help to boost my confidence. My emotional intelligence was simply average, which means that my measure of how well I understand and deal with my emotions and the emotions of others is average. I learned that I should take time to understand and improve my own emotional intelligence since it can help with my personal development and in engaging with those around me.

This exercise also allowed me to understand some of my marketable skills. Some of which were my abilities to think on my feet, set realistic goals, use media to present ideas creatively and keep to a schedule. I also realized that I follow through on plans, handle many tasks at once and get projects done on time. Lastly, I learned that I am adaptable, creative, empathetic, energetic, and well spoken. All of these examples are great when applying for jobs.