Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak interview Tiffany Wong, past president of Live2Free at Vanguard University. They discuss fair trade products, Live2free’s mission, and their approach to community and school presentations.
- Live2free was founded by students who wanted to educate their community about human trafficking and how people can get involved and recognize the signs.
- Tiffany shares an example of a story told to high school students to discuss warning signs of human trafficking and prevention.
- Advice is given on best-practices for people interested in starting a youth organization or group that focuses on human trafficking.
- Advisers to youth organizations can best prepare their students with resources and mentoring.
- EP. 7 – The Fourth “P” in the Trafficking in Persons Report
- National Human Trafficking Hotline – 888.3737.888
- Lydia Today Foundation
- Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (ochumantrafficking.com)
- Look Beneath the Surface – Health and Human Services
[Note from the Ending Human Trafficking podcast team: This episode was recorded in 2011 so the contact information provided is no longer accurate. Please refer endinghumantrafficking.org/contact for the correct contact information to get in touch with the EHT podcast.]
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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 8, recorded in July 2011. Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.
Sandie [00:00:28] And my name is Sandra Morgan.
Dave [00:00:30] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, glad to be back with you again today to talk more about how we can play a role, all of us in ending human trafficking and continuing our conversation about partnership that we had from episode number 7.
Sandie [00:00:52] And one of the groups that we want to make sure we develop opportunities for reaching out and having partnerships with is our young people that are students in high schools and colleges and universities.
Dave [00:01:06] And that’s actually the focus of our topic today is talking with someone who’s been an integral role of really raising awareness on about human trafficking and how we can all play a part in ending human trafficking and not just at the government level and with large organizations, but also the student level and raising awareness among college students who not only can learn about this issue, but can really be strong advocates for being able to address it. And we have a guest here today to speak to that.
Sandie [00:01:38] And I have to really key off of your words strong advocates, strength in energy and in passion and in commitment. And when we offer opportunities for university, college and high school students to get involved, they can do hands and feet work that some of us who are a little more worn might not have the same kind of capacity and energy level to complete. So I’m very excited to introduce Tiffany Wong who was this past year’s president at Live2Free Club at Vanguard University and actually received congressional recognition for her work on this and in the area of outreach and awareness in Orange County.
Dave [00:02:24] Very cool.
Sandie [00:02:25] So, Tiffany, welcome.
Tiffany [00:02:27] Hi.
Sandie [00:02:29] So, Tiffany, I have a list of questions here I want to ask you. I think that I want people to know a little bit about you. And did you have a background in human trafficking when you first started working with Live2Free?
Tiffany [00:02:45] No. And I actually barely knew anything about human trafficking. And it was only after some time with the club that taking a human trafficking class that I learned quite a lot.
Sandie [00:02:58] So and I also want folks to know that you’re bilingual. What other language do you speak?
Tiffany [00:03:05] I speak Cantonese and English.
Sandie [00:03:08] Cantonese. So, but you can understand Mandarin as well, right? Chinese.
Tiffany [00:03:15] Well, that’s one of my goals.
Sandie [00:03:17] One of your goals. That was a really important and important aspect of what we could deliver as as a club in our community. So let’s talk about when you heard about human trafficking and you really wanted to do something, how did Live2Free provide that opportunity for you?
Tiffany [00:03:40] Well, Live2Free goes out to schools and talks to students about human trafficking. And then we also they also did a like a summer internship where they went to clinics and have a clinic, police departments and libraries where they were able to speak to the bigger community about human trafficking.
Sandie [00:04:06] So that kind of preparation then did you go out on your own?
Tiffany [00:04:14] No. We always went out in teams, probably around like 3 to 4 people. And we all took turns speaking to different people. We all had an opportunity to speak and also learn about human trafficking.
Sandie [00:04:31] Okay, so let’s just for fun. I am the receptionist at a walk-in medical clinic. And your team just walked in the door. So what do you do? Do you just hand me something and walk away or what do you do?
Tiffany [00:04:47] First I’ll say I’ll introduce myself, where I’m from, what organization I’m working with. And I’ll say, Do you know anything about human trafficking? Sometimes they say yes. Sometimes they say no. And then I’ll say, Do you know that human trafficking happens here in Orange County, which sparks the conversation. Most times people do not realize that human trafficking is so prevalent in their own neighborhoods. So then we have just a short conversation about what human trafficking is and that it’s here in our backyard. And then I give them a brochure and tell them that we offer free training for their workers if they would like to do that. And then I end it off with saying the 888-3737-888 number, which is the national hotline to report human trafficking.
Dave [00:05:47] As we’re talking about Live2Free, Sandie, and I was wondering if either one of you might share just some information about the background of Live2Free and how that organization came about as we’re listening to Tina’s experiences. Because–Tiffany’s experiences I’m sorry, I don’t know where Tina came from, Tiffany, I’m sorry about that. But for those of us who may not be familiar with the organization, how did this organization start off?
Sandie [00:06:14] Well, when I first came to Orange County after being out of the country for several years I was invited to speak at Vanguard. And I was at that time the founder of Lydia Today Foundation. I had worked with a women’s advocacy association in Athens, Greece. And so students who are always looking for ways to fund their passion and their strategies decided to make this into a club. And they filled out all the paperwork so they would get the student association funds for their club. And they called it the Lydia Club. Well, when they were invited to go off campus, I was at a presentation they did and I heard a young man from another university asked the president of our club, ‘So, Lance, why are you the president of a girls club?’ And on the way home in the van, we thought, okay, Lydia doesn’t have any significance here like it did in Greece. And so we came up with a new name, Live2Free. We wanted a name that said who we are. We’re not about being against anything, but rather we’re about making just choices that change lives. And on the website, it actually gives a brief summary of the Live2Free mission, which is ‘Live2Free exists to challenge a generation to make personal choices that recognize the dignity of the individual and the responsibility of consumers to slow the demand that drives modern-day slavery and to network with others to rescue, rebuild, and restore broken lives of victims worldwide.’
Dave [00:08:02] Thank you for that background. That it gives me a good feel for what the organization does and the history. Thank you.
Sandie [00:08:08] So, Tiffany, tell us about you seemed really excited about going into high schools. Tell us about that experience and how do you get invitations to go to high schools?
Tiffany [00:08:20] Well, before I became president, I guess what the club would do is send letters out to schools and speak to principals about it. And then we had I think we had a hard time getting invited to schools. But it was just recently when I became president and maybe probably before that, where we just got so many calls from different schools requesting for presentations. And they probably heard about us through, you know, people just talking about us or through conversations. So what we’ll do is we’ll get invited to schools, we’ll make the appointment, we’ll set up a team of maybe 3 to 4 students each for each presentation. And then my job would be just to, like, relegate that whole process and make sure all the team members are prepared enough to present. And then we’ll just go to schools. We have a like a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation that we share and then we also bring fair trade chocolate all the time. So kids get like that’s like an instant win with them. They’re like, ooh, chocolate. And so that’s just a little bit of what we do, how it goes down.
Sandie [00:09:46] And why, why do you talk about chocolate?
Tiffany [00:09:50] We talk about chocolate because there’s not just sexual trafficking, but labor trafficking. So we bring in fair trade chocolate, which fair trade means that there’s no slavery involved with the process of making the chocolate. So it’s just a way to kind of introduce the topic of human trafficking. And then we go into a discussion of making just choices that change lives and which also means making just choices at the cash register. We tell kids that we could make votes at the cash register for justice and for people to be–. It’s like, for kids to understand that to have respect, we have to respect other people, too. And so as we buy fair trade chocolate, then we start to respect other people and we make that decision to spend a little more money on chocolate.
Sandie [00:11:00] Well, how much more money do I have to spend to buy fair trade chocolate?
Tiffany [00:11:04] Fair trade chocolate is at like $2 a bar and like, cheap chocolate, maybe like about a dollar. So it’s a little bit more, but it helps somebody else somewhere else to go to school and have health care and just things that they need.
Sandie [00:11:25] So our ideas sometimes about being thrifty and buying the cheapest product may not, in the long run, be the best bargain for our community.
Tiffany [00:11:34] Right. Exactly.
Sandie [00:11:35] So when I spend $2 on a chocolate bar that’s fair trade, then I’m also purchasing the actual labor that went into that. So that means someone that maybe is part of the cocoa plantations on the west coast of Africa where we have a lot of evidence of child slavery for cheap chocolate. Then when I’m buying fair trade, that means that an adult is going to be paid a fair wage and they’ll have the opportunity then to take care of their own children, to educate their children, to feed their children. So at that seems like a much better bargain than a cheap chocolate bar.
Tiffany [00:12:17] Yes.
Sandie [00:12:19] And when you when you tell me that you give them materials, what kind of materials are you giving to the people that you go visit and the students that you see?
Tiffany [00:12:31] We usually hand out brochures, posters and stickers. All of them are free. And if you just go to sites like ochumantrafficking.org, that’s a great resource and you can just request those brochures and that’s what we just hand out to people. The kids love the huge posters and the stickers. They put them in their lockers, their binders, everything like that. So it’s a great resource to have and all of those have the national hotline number and yeah, that’s what it has.
Sandie [00:13:09] Okay. And I think we’ve mentioned in past podcasts that you can order those exact same resources from Look Beneath the Surface campaign on the Health and Human Services website. And we can certainly add that link to our podcast notes if anyone is interested in doing that. Now, one more question for you, Tiffany. As a student in a university group like this, you’ve developed some great understanding. You’ve developed leadership skills to organize other students. So you’ve been able to, I think, in your tenure as president, that you organized and or presented to in community outreach to clinics in four languages. You had Spanish, English, Vietnamese and Chinese. You also went to dozens of high schools. You led a high school student service project at a local high school where then it was like multiplying because now then you were the one training even younger students, and then they went to the junior high. So it becomes like a mushroom that just keeps growing and growing. So your tenure as president is over. You graduated from college and now how do you keep that going? How do you apply what you learned in your further education and community involvement and career choices?
Tiffany [00:14:48] I will be going to Atlanta in September and I’ll be spending a whole year there. And Atlanta, I heard, is one of the biggest hubs for human trafficking in the United States. So a part of me going there will be developing relationships with at-risk youth and just, you know, telling them that they are, they are just worth living and that they are worth spending time with. And I think just developing these kind of relationships will prevent these at-risk youth from being exploited sexually. So I think that’s part of it. And also just educating people wherever I go about what human trafficking is and how to prevent it and what signs to look out for. I think what I’ve learned from Live2free I would just carry on wherever I go.
Sandie [00:15:51] Thank you for that. I think I’ve heard you tell the story after you talk about labor trafficking at a high school about a 14-year-old American young person who was recruited by a trafficker. Would you like to tell us that story?
Tiffany [00:16:09] Sure. Anna, she was 14-years-old and she was living with her mom at the time and her mom’s boyfriend started to move in, started moving in and started to sexually abuse her. And Anna she ran away from home. And now remember that Anna is too, she was born in the United States. She’s not from a different country, but she was born here in the United States. And so after her boyfriend moved in and started sexually abusing her, then she–. So then they the authorities took her out of that situation and put her in a group home. Anna being so young and a teenager, she didn’t like living in a group home, even though that was supposed to protect her. And she ran away from the group home and she was just hanging out at the park really late at night. And a trafficker came, but she didn’t know who he was or what he was doing. And he came and he tried to talk to her. But, you know, she tried to act invisible and tried to ignore him. And she started walking away. And then she realized that there’s, you know, he’s holding a McDonald’s bag. So he offered her the McDonald’s and she took it because she was hungry. And they started to have a conversation because now he’s no longer a stranger, but a friend. And he listened to her. He and he just was there for her. And he offered her to stay at his home for that night. Um, he said to her it’s getting late. Let’s get back to my place and we’ll figure it out in the morning. So she went back with him and then the next day he told her how beautiful she was and how he knows that she’s so young, but she just thinks it’s so right. And, um, so then he takes her, like, shopping, buys her nice clothes, a cellphone. And then after the bills come, he says to her, Hey, we need to start paying these bills, so you gotta help me do something tonight. And he starts exploiting her with his circle of friends and he tells her, If you don’t make $500 tonight, you’re not going to come home. And so she was locked out a few nights. And then finally the police got her, found her, and then they arrested her. She was released and ran back to her boyfriend, who she was, which was also her pimp. And then the second time she got caught, the police brought her in and they treated her like a victim and they asked her, you know, her whole story. And this time she offered she received all the services they offered and yeah, that’s the end of story.
Sandie [00:19:29] So that’s a really good example of best practices that you teach to high school students that might actually become victims, might actually be the little girl in the park at 1:00 in the morning.
Dave [00:19:42] Sandie, I’m struck for I’m struck by how similar that story is to the typical story that you told just a few episodes ago of the luring with food and listening and I’m going to take care of you and how that theme is echoed in that story that Tiffany just told as well, too. And, you know, I am so curious listening to both of you, and this question is maybe for both of you, Sandie and Tiffany of I know that a number of folks who listen to this podcast are in higher involved in higher education and churches and pastors. And if someone wanted to start an organization either, you know, with students or maybe students are already thinking of, they want to be advocates for this issue, too. What advice would you both have for a college that wanted to help support a student organization starting or a church is starting a student organization? What would you suggest or suggest that they do or not do and starting off getting students involved in this issue?
Sandie [00:20:48] Tiffany, what do you think?
Tiffany [00:20:51] I think what every organization should do is do their research and understand, you know, the full dynamics of what human trafficking is and how it looks locally and maybe internationally, as well. And also check out what their local task forces already is. It’s not worthwhile to repeat and not to start over the whole process when so many organizations are doing something. So it’s good to do your research and understand what other organizations are doing as well and collaborate. I think it’s very important and also for this is a huge thing for students because I know a lot of students are they want to actively find victims and do busts themselves, but they have to understand that that’s very dangerous. They put themselves and the victims in danger. And it makes it doesn’t really, it doesn’t really make a good case. Good case. So that’s what I would tell college students. But always just see what other people are doing. Team up with others and do your research as well.
Sandie [00:22:05] So they could go online and see what you’ve been doing.
Tiffany [00:22:09] Yes, you can go, anybody can go on www.Live2Free.org. That’s just we have, like, a website of what we’ve done in the past and just our events and our presentations and other resources about human trafficking.
Dave [00:22:31] And just for those who may not know, that’s live the number two free. So L-I-V-E the number two F-R-E-E.org to visit the website that Live2Free has it up.
Sandie [00:22:44] The wonderful thing about what Tiffany has done as president is she just keeps adding to what previous presidents have done with this club since it started a few years ago. And they’ve expanded and have a couple other clubs in the area that they meet with and begin to collaborate with. They share resources so that each year it doesn’t have to start all over again, but they build on what they’ve already accomplished and already set as really good practices. One of the questions I wanted to ask you, Tiffany, is what are the responses from high school students when you tell them stories about children as slaves for cheap chocolate and as pimps recruit American young people in parks and bus stations?
Tiffany [00:23:37] I think they’re just shocked that they because a lot of them may have heard of international human trafficking and not so much for domestic. And it just, it amazes me because I look into the audience and all the kids are so intense, intensive and, like, they’re just, they just, they’re just so interested in this whole topic. And I think a lot of them are really concerned, too, because that’s why they ask a lot of questions. And so it’s very cool to see that.
Sandie [00:24:18] And is this something you usually go and just talk to girls?
Tiffany [00:24:23] No. We talked to both boy and girl students. Yeah. We talk to students. We talk to teachers, principals, counselors. Pretty much the whole community, and that’s what’s really important.
Sandie [00:24:41] So it’s good to have a really balanced group in your club. This is not something that we want to isolate as just a women’s issue or a girl’s issue, but this is a community issue, so it includes the girls and the guys. And we are so excited about seeing what you’ve done multiplied the idea of sending in almost peer mentors. When we send university students back to high schools and then high school students back to junior highs, this is a level of prevention that’s going to be an area we want to see grow as we build more and more community partners. So we want to thank you so much for coming on today by telephone and wish you a lot of success in your work with at-risk youth in Atlanta. That is truly a hub for commercial sexual exploitation of children. And knowing that you’re going to take the expertize that you already have and your passion and put it to work and this area of prevention is very rewarding for me as a professor, and I’m thankful for all of your work, Tiffany.
Tiffany [00:25:50] You’re welcome.
Dave [00:25:52] Sandie, before we close up with Tiffany, I’m just curious from your perspective as a faculty member and as an adviser to this group, what advice do you have for other faculty advisors that might be looking to support a student organization like this of good things to do or maybe avoid?
Sandie [00:26:11] Well, I think one of the things that we want to do is always put excellent tools in the hands of our students, excellent resources, and then set standards so that there’s some accountability. And training is essential. Every student that goes out to do a high school presentation goes through training. They get an approved PowerPoint with materials that are found in our State Department and Department of Justice and Health and Human Services materials. They don’t do this on their own to build their own little nonprofit, but rather they do this to support what our community at large is doing. Most of our students attend at least one or two task force meetings, so they get an understanding of what our community is doing and so that they can be accurate, not overstate issues. And then when they disappear, because that’s what happens, they graduate and they leave us that there’s going to be somebody coming behind them that can pick up and continue because this has been established as best practice and we have good standards already in place.
Dave [00:27:25] And you may have heard something here in this episode today that got you thinking about how you might start an organization like this or support students in starting an organization. And Sandie’s a great resource for that. So you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org by email and Sandie folks wanted to call and chat or reach out to you?
Sandie [00:27:44] 714-556-3610, extension 2242.
Dave [00:27:50] And we want to thank again Tiffany for joining us today. Tiffany, thanks so much for your service and your expertize. We’re so glad to have had you join us.
Sandie [00:28:02] All right. Well, look forward to seeing you again soon, Tiffany.
Dave [00:28:05] Sandie, take care. And we’ll see you all again for our next episode in two weeks.
Sandie [00:28:14] All right.