On March 20th, Michael and I attended the GivingPoint Sparks Event! It was at this building with a long hallway, which was filled with about 14 teams of about 1-3 people each. The hallway eventually led to a colorful room filled with wines for adults to sample.
When I first walked in, I was caught off guard by all of the kids that seemed to be in my age group. I walked around and introduced myself to a couple, and asked about their projects. There were many that I’d never heard of, even though they were happening in the town that I lived in. I met a great deal of really inspiring and ambitious teenagers who seemed to care with all of their heart about whatever they were there to raise money for.
When the event started, people start walking in. The spacious hallway gradually filled with more and more voices, interested and curious. The guests – many of them business executives – had initially been lured by the free wine sampling, but they ultimately stayed to listen to young people talk with fervor about a project that they deeply cared about.
Michael and I received many people, all of whom were very open and willing to listen to speak about the human rights crisis in North Korea, and LiNK, an organization that we were confident could make a huge change about it.
One very eager woman continually called her friends and family over to listen to us speak, which I found to be very moving. She herself had lived at the South/North Korean border (South side of course) for a few months, and you could just imagine the engaging look in her eyes as she verified everything that we had to say to her friends and family.
Another woman told us that she had recently read about the ongoing human rights crisis happening there, which we found to be very interesting. It’s not every day that we meet someone who is so aware about the seemingly hidden side of North Korea. Granted, the media is giving the issue a bit more attention, but the status quo efforts STILL do not suffice. This is what we’re here for.
At the end of the night, when it seemed like our voices were hoarse from speaking for hours without a break, Michael and I were very happy. We had printed out flyers to hand to people as they met us, and most of those flyers were gone. Many people had asked for more information – what was the website of the organization? How did they donate? How did we become involved? We were feeling optimistic.
A few days later, we found out that we had amassed 500 dollars. There was a brief celebration before we settled down and started planning our next moves. We’re hoping to expand! Our efforts have received more attention. As we will always tell people, Michael and I represent LiNK, and we feel that we have two goals:
1. to raise money so that rescuers can actually go into North Korea to bring refugees out and into safe countries
2. to raise awareness about North Korean oppression (LiNK has a global online campaign called SHIFT)
Neither of these goals dominates the other, but with the GivingPoint event, we’ve taken a substantial step towards achieving Goal #1. Goal #2? We’re contacting local schools in our area to hopefully get slots to speak next semester!