3rd Evening of Awareness
Well, we’ve completed another Evening of Awareness, and the events are getting better each time, if I do say so myself. As people have heard me say, the goal behind these events is to learn about humanitarian issues, but also to learn about the people behind those issues. I really believe that as the most priviledged people in the world, its the very least we can do, just to know about the social inequities and injustices that affect so many people in the world. Each of these Evenings of Awareness have had their own challenges and their own special rewards. This last event had the challange of being on a Friday evening, at a location south of the 405 freeway at the end of June. We were competing with Friday night traffic, end of the work week fatigue, and graduations. The event was scheduled to begin at 7:30pm and as we approached 7:00pm, there was hardly anyone there. As the clock continued to move closer toward 7:30, my heart just sank further and further. Logically, I knew that the success of the event shouldnt be measured by the number of people that showed up, but by the quality of the program. However, I just felt so invested in making sure people got to learn about the plight of refugees and victims of human trafficking that I couldnt help but feel discouraged. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, the people started showing up, and showing up, and showing up. Before long, we were looking for extra chairs. I think we had at least 150 people in attendance.We started a little late, but the program was great! We started with an interactive activity that Stacey came up with called “web of advocacy” that got all the guests at each of the tables talking to each other about how various global issues (and thus, all the people impacted by them) are interconnected. Various community activists who work with refugees and victims of human trafficking helped out with this activity. Our key note speaker, Thanh Nguyen, shared about his experiences as a former Vietnamese refugee and what happened when he fled Vietnam by boat in the 80’s. Next, was a totally dynamite dance performance by the Baha’i Youth Workshop. We saw a couple of video clips about refugees and human trafficking. Then we had the Q&A with the panel of experts that came from LA, OC, and San Diego and all shared unique perspectives on human trafficking that are specific to each county. We also got to learn about the difference between refugees and internally displaced people, who dont have the same rights as refugees, but suffer just the same. We had great door prizes to give away and incredible information tables. It was a great evening. Sukh kind of summed it up best when he thanked the guests for coming. He told them how before each Evening of Awareness, we all second guess ourselves, wondering if people really care about the crisis in Darfur, or poverty and AIDS in Africa, or refugees and victims of human trafficking. Not the sexiest stuff to talk about, no matter how many great door prizes you have to give away. But by showing up, they validated to us that people really do want to know and people really do care. That’s what keeps me looking forward to the next Evenings of Awareness.