Peru State College
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News Release

Human trafficking activist, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate set for Peru State's 2012-13 Distinguished Speaker Series


(Peru, Neb.) Peru State College (PSC) today announced presenters for its 2012-13 Distinguished Speaker Series. The public is encouraged to attend the events which are offered free of charge.

Human Trafficking Activist Somaly Mam
The Lost Road of Innocence
7 p.m. - Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 - College Theatre

Born to a tribal minority family in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia, Somaly Mam began life in extreme poverty. With limited options as part of a severely marginalized ethnic group, and living in unimaginable despair, her family often resorted to desperate means to survive. This confluence of dire circumstances led to the unspeakable horrors that would mark Mam’s early years. Mam was sold into sexual slavery by a man who posed as her grandfather. To this day, due to the passing of time and the unreliability of a wounded memory, she does not know who this man was to her. Yet his actions set her on an unimaginable path fraught with danger, desperation and, ultimately, triumph.

Forced to work in a brothel alongside other children, Mam was brutally tortured and raped on a daily basis. One night she was made to watch as her best friend was viciously murdered. Fearing the same fate, Mam heroically escaped her captors and set about building a new life. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.

In 1996, Mam established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Precaire). Under her leadership, AFESIP employs a holistic approach to ensure that victims not only escape their plight, but that they also have the emotional and economic strength to face the future with hope. With the launch of the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2007, she has established a funding vehicle to support anti-trafficking organizations and to provide victims and survivors with a platform from which their voices can be heard around the world. She is the author of The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine.

For her tireless efforts, Mam is a renowned worldwide leader at the forefront of the anti-trafficking struggle. Universally recognized as a visionary for her courage, dignity, ingenuity and resilience, Mam was honored as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and was featured as a CNN Hero. She is the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC) and Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award. She has also won accolades from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

But Mam’s success has come at a price. She and her family have faced terrifying death threats and violence. Asked why she continues to fight in the face of such fierce and frightening opposition, she resolutely responds, “I don’t want to go without leaving a trace.”

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi
Iran Awakening: A Story of Revolution and Hope
7 p.m. - Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 - College Theatre

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi is the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to win the coveted prize. As a woman in Iran, Ebadi’s life has paralleled the dramatic changes within her country. Her call for dissent and support for human rights has rung clear during the political and religious upheaval in the Middle East.

Making history as the first woman judge in Iran, Ebadi was stripped of her basic rights by religious revolutionaries, whom she once supported, who declared women unfit to serve as judges. She fought her way back as a human rights lawyer, defending women and children in controversial, politically charged cases. She has been arrested and has been the target of assassination, but through it all, Ebadi has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of victims of injustice and discrimination. Defying government obstacles, Ebadi created one of the first independent, non-governmental human rights organizations in Iran: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child. She is the author of Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country and The Golden Age.

A towering figure with a commanding voice that will not be silenced, Ebadi courageously champions democracy and basic human rights for women, children and all individuals. Her influence extends far beyond the borders of her country, inspiring hope that Islam, democracy and all human rights can co-exist despite the challenges faced in these turbulent times.

For more information on the speakers, visit

Peru State established the Distinguished Speaker Series in fall 2010 as part of the college’s commitment to student engagement and success. The intent of the Series is to bring diverse, nationally and internationally recognized speakers to southeast Nebraska to enrich the educational experience of students while also providing surrounding communities opportunities to engage in interesting and relevant topics.
Speakers are encouraged to connect with the community in a variety of ways during their visits through classroom discussions, guest lectures, meet and greet receptions, and a keynote address.

Previous guests include former skinhead Frank Meeink, civil rights leader and Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Gandhi, Bawa (Cameroon, Africa) Health Initiative co-founded Dr. Dennis Richardson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Sonia Nazario, and consumer advocate and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. All events are open to the public and free of charge.

Additional information about Peru State’s Distinguished Speaker Series is available at

For more information, contact Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Michaela Willis at 402-872-2224 or