Learn how to partner effectively with students to help end human trafficking. Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak interview Tiffany Wong, past president of Live2Free at Vanguard University. They discuss Fair-Trade products, what Live2Free is all about, their approach to the community and school presentations, and how they study the issues. Live2Free embodies the mission to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference.
- Tiffany talks about a story of a girl who was trafficked in the US.
- Live2Free isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a community issue.
- Live2Free educates the whole community: teachers, staff, principals, counselors, boys, and girls.
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Dave: You’re listening to Ending Human Trafficking Podcast, this is episode 8, recorded in July 2011. Welcome to the Ending human trafficking podcast, my name is Dave Stachowiak
Sandie: And my name is Sandra Morgan.
Dave: 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 seven.
Sandie: And one of the groups that we want to make sure we develop opportunities for reaching out and having partnerships with are young people that are student in high schools, colleges and universities.
Dave: And that’s actually our topic for today, is talking to someone who has been an integral role of really raising awareness about human trafficking and how we can all play a part in ending hum trafficking and not just at the government level and with large organizations, but also at the student level and raising aware among college students who not only can learn about this issue but who can really be strong advocates at really being able to address it, and we have a guest here today to speak to that.
Sandie: And I really have to key off your words “strong advocates” strength, in energy, and in passion and in commitment. And when we offer opportunities for university, college and high school to really 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 am very excited to introduce Tiffany Wong, who was a past years president at the Live2Free club at Vanguard University, and actually received congressional recognition for her work on this, in the area of outreach and awareness in Orange County
Dave: Very cool.
Sandie: So, Tiffany, welcome.
Sandie: 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 hum trafficking when you first started working with Live2Free?
Tiffany: No, and I actually barely knew anything about human trafficking, and it was only after some time with the club and taking a human trafficking class that I learned quite a lot.
Sandie: So, and I also want folks to know that you’re bilingual. What other language do you speak?
Tiffany: I speak Cantonese and English.
Sandie: Cantonese…and you can also understand Mandarin as well, right? Chinese?
Tiffany: Well that’s one of my goals.
Sandie: One of your goals. That was really an important aspect of what we could deliver as a club in our community, so lets talk about, when you heard about human trafficking and really wanted to do something. How did Live2Free provide that opportunity for you?
Tiffany: Well Live2Free goes out to schools and talks to students about human trafficking, and they also did like a summer internship where they went to clinics, police departments and libraries where they were able to speak to the bigger community about human trafficking.
Sandie: So, that kind of preparation then… did you go out on your own?
Tiffany: No, we also went in teams, probably around three to four people, and we all took turns speaking to different people and we were able to speak and also learn about human trafficking.
Sandie: Okay, so let’s just for fun, I am the receptionist at a walk-in medical clinic and your teams just walked through the door, do you just walk in and hand me something and walk away, what do you do?
Tiffany: First I’ll say, I introduce myself, where I am from, what organization I am working with, and I’ll say, “Do you know anything about human trafficking?” Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no. Then I’ll say, “Do you know that human trafficking happens in Orange County?” Which sparks a conversation. Most times people don’t realize that human trafficking is so prevalent in their own neighborhood, then we have a short conversation about what human trafficking is, and that its here in our backyard and then I give them a brochure for free training for their workers if they will like to do that and ill end it by saying the (888) 3737- 888 number which is the national hotline number to report human trafficking.
Dave: As were talking about live to free Sandie, I was wondering if any one of you might share some info about the background of live2Free and how that came about, as were listening to Tiffany’s experiences, for those of us who may not be familiar with the organization, how did it start off?
Sandie: 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 was at the time the founder of Lydia Today Foundation, I’d worked with Women’s Advocacy Association in Athens, Greece, and so students who were always looking for ways to fund their passion and their strategies decided to make this into a club, and they filled out all of the paperwork so they would get the student association funds for their club, and they called it the Lydia club. Well when they were called to go off campus, they were holding a presentation and I heard a young man from another university ask 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.” So we came up with a new name, Live2free, we wanted a name that said who we are. Were not about being against anything, but rather, but were 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 an individual and the responsibility of consumers to slow the demand that drives modern day slavery, and to work with others to rescue, rebuild and restore broken lives of victims worldwide.
Dave: Thank you for that background, it gives me a good feel for what the org does and the history, thank you.
Sandie: So, Tiffany, tell us about, you seemed really excited about going into high schools, so tell us about that experience and how did you get invited to go to high schools.
Tiffany: Well, before I became the club president, what I guess I thought we would do is send letters out to school and speak to the principals about it, and I think we had a hard time getting invited to schools, but it was just recently when I became president or maybe probably before that, we just got so many calls from different schools requesting presentations, and you know, they probably just heard about it from other people just talking about us or through conversations, so what we would do is, we’ll get invited to a school and set up a team of 3 to 4 students for each presentation and my job would just be to delegate that whole process and make sure all the team members are prepared enough to present and then we just go to the school and we have a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation that we share and we also bring fair trade chocolate all the time, so kids, that’s an instant win with them, their like “Ooh, chocolate.” So that’s just a little bit about what we do, what goes down.
Sandie: Why do you talk about chocolate?
Tiffany: We talk about chocolate because there isn’t just sex trafficking, but labor trafficking, so we bring in fair trade chocolate which, fair trade means there was no slavery involved in the process of making the chocolate, so it’s just a way in introducing the topic of human trafficking, and then we introduce the subject of making just choices that change lives, which also means making just choices at the cash register, for justice and for people to be, its for kids to have that respect for other people, so as we buy fair trade chocolate, we show respect to other people and we make that decision to spend a little more money on chocolate.
Sandie: Well, how much more money do I have to spend to buy fair trade chocolate?
Tiffany: Fair trade is about 2 dollars a bar, and cheap chocolate is about a dollar so it’s a little bit more, but it helps somebody else, somewhere else to go to school and have care and things they need
Sandie: So, our ideas sometimes about being thrifty and buying the cheapest product might not ending being the best bargain for our community. So when I spend 2 dollars on a chocolate bar that’s fair trade, then I’m also purchasing the actual labor that went into that, so that means someone who may be 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 that means that an adult is going to be paid a fair wage and they’ll have the opportunity to care for their own children, to educate their children, to feed their children. That seems like a much better bargain than a cheap chocolate bar.
Sandie: And when you tell me that you give them materials, what kind of materials are you giving to the people you visit and the students that you see?
Tiffany: We usually hand out brochures, posters and stickers. All of them are free, if you just go to ochumantrafficking.org, that’s a great resource, and you can just request those brochures, that’s what we hand out to people, the kids love the huge posters and stickers, they put them on their binders and lockers, so it’s a great resource to have, and all of those resources have the national hotline number.
Sandie: 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, now as a student in a university group like this, you’ve developed some great understanding, developed leadership skills to organize other students so that you’ve been able to, I think, in your tenor as president, you organized and presented in community outreach to clinics in 4 languages, in English, Spanish, 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. You were the one training even younger students, and then they went to the junior high, so it becomes like a mushroom that keeps growing and growing. So, your tenor as president is over, you’ve graduated from college, now how do you keep that going? How do you apply what you’ve learned in your further education, community involvement and career choices?
Tiffany: I will be going to Atlanta in September, and ill be spending a whole year there, and I heard Atlanta is one of the biggest hubs for human trafficking, so part of me going there will be developing relationships with at risk youth and telling them they are worth spending time with, and I think developing these types of relationships will prevent them from being exploited sexually, so I think that’s part of it, and also educating people everywhere I go about what human trafficking is, how to prevent it, and what signs to look out for.
Sandie: Thank you for that. I think I’ve heard you tell that story, after I heard you talk about labor trafficking out of 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: Sure. Anna, she’s 14 years old, she was living with her mom at the time, and her mom’s bf moves in and started to sexually abuse her, and Anna, she ran away from home, and remember that she was born in the US, not from a different country, but she was born he re in the US, so after her moms bf started sexually abusing her,
then the authorities took her out of that situation and into a group home. She didn’t
like it, even though it was supposed to protect her. She ran away from the group
home and ended up hanging out at a park really late at night, and a trafficker came,
and she didn’t know who he was or what he was doing, and he tried to talk to her,
but she tried to act invisible and tried to ignore him. She started walking away and
realized he was holding a McDonald’s bag, so he offered her the McDonald’s bag
because she was hungry, and they started to have a conversation, cause now he’s
no longer a stranger but a friend. He listened to her, he was there for her, he offered
her to stay at his home for that night, and he said “It’s getting late, lets get back to
my place and we’ll figure it out in the morning.” So she went with him and the next
day he told her how beautiful she is, and he knows that she’s so young, but he thinks
that its so right, and so then he takes her shopping, buys her nice clothes and a cell
phone, and after the bills come, he says, “Hey, you got to start helping me pay these
bills, so you got to help me with something tonight.” So he starts exploiting her with
his circle of friends and telling her, hey if you don’t make 500 dollars tonight, you
aren’t coming home, and so she was locked out a few nights and finally the police
caught her, arrested her, was released and ran back to her boyfriend, which was also
her pimp, then the second time she got caught, the police took her in and treated
her like a victim, and they asked her whole story and this time she received all the
services they offered. And yeah, that’s the end of the story.
Sandie: So that’s a really good example of a story you would tell at high school, to kids who might actually be victims, they might actually be that little girl at the park at 1 o’clock in the morning.
Dave: Sandie, I’m struck by how similar that story is to the story 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 told as well, and I’m so
curious listening to both of you, so this question is for both of you, I know there are
a lot people in higher education and churches and pastors… if someone wanted to
start an organization, either with students or maybe students already want to be
advocates for this issue, what advice would you both have for a college that wanted
to help an organization starting, or a church that is starting a student org, what
would you suggest they do or not do, getting students starting off on this issue?
Sandie: Tiffany, what do you think?
Tiffany: I think what every organization should do is do their research and understand the full dynamic of what human trafficking is, how it looks locally and maybe internationally as well, and also check out what their local task force is doing, it’s not worthwhile to repeat, to start over the whole process when so many organizations are doing something, so its good to do your research and understand what other organizations are doing, and collaborate, I think that’s very important. And also for students, cause I know a lot of kids want to actively find and do busts themselves, they have to understand that’s very dangerous, they put themselves and the victims in danger and it doesn’t really make a big change, so that’s what I would tell college students… see what other people are doing, team up with others, and do your research as well.
Sandie: So, they could go online and see what you’ve been doing.
Tiffany: Yes, anyone can go on www.Live2Free.org, we have what we’ve done in the
past, and a list of events and our presentations and also, just resources about human
Dave: And just for those who may not know, that’s live, the number 2, free. So
Live2Free.org to visit the website they have set up.
Sandie: The wonderful thing about what Tiffany has done as president, 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 they have a few other clubs in the area
that they meet with and collaborate with, they share resources, so that each year
they don’t have to start over again, but that 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, what are the responses from high school students when
you tell them stories about children as slaves for cheap chocolate and as pimps
recruiting American young people in parks and bus stations?
Tiffany: I think they’re just shocked, cause a lot of them may have heard about
international human trafficking, not so much domestic, it amazes me because I look
into the audience, and all of the kids are so attentive, they’re just so interested in
this whole topic and I think a lot of them are really concerned cause that’s why they
ask a lot of questions, so it’s very cool to see that
Sandie: And is this something that you usually go and only talk to girls about?
Tiffany: No, we talk to boy and girl students. We talk to students, teachers, counselors, pretty much the whole community, and that’s what really important.
Sandie: So it’s good to have a really balanced group in your club, it’s not something we want to isolate as a girl’s issue or a woman’s issue, but it’s a community issue, so it includes the girls and the guys, and we’re so excited about seeing what you’ve done, multiplied the idea of sending in peer mentors when we send college students to high schools and high school students to junior highs, this is level of prevention, an area we want to see grow as we build more and more community partners, so we
want to thank you for phoning in by telephone, and we wish you a lot of success
in your work with at-risk youth in Atlanta, that’s really a hub for at-risk children,
and knowing that you’re going to take the expertise that you already have, and the
passion you already have and put it to work as prevention is very rewarding to me,
as a professor, and I’m thankful for all of your work, Tiffany.
Tiffany: Oh, you’re welcome.
Dave: Sandie, before we close up with Tiffany, I’m just curious as a faculty member and just an advisor to this group, what advice do you have for other faculty advisors that might be looking to support a student organization like this, good things to do or maybe avoid.
Sandie: Well, I think one of the things that we want to do is put excellent tools in the
hands of our students, excellent resources, then set standards so that there is 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 our department of justice
and health and human services materials, they don’t do this on their own to build
their own non-profit, but 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, so they can be accurate,
not overstate issues, then when they disappear, cause that’s what happens, they
graduate and they leave us, that there’s going to be somebody 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: And you may have heard something on this episode today that may have got
you are thinking about how you might start an organization like this, or help students in
starting an organization, and Sandie is a great resource for that, so you can reach out
to her at Gcwj@vanguard.edu by email, and Sandie, if folks want to call up and chat?
Sandie: (714) 556-3610, extension #2242.
Dave: And we want to thank you again for joining us today, Tiffany, thanks so much for your service and your expertise, were so glad to have had you join us.
Sandie: Alright, we’ll look forward to seeing you again soon, Tiffany.
Dave: Alright Sandie, take care and we’ll see you all again for our next episode in 2