My fellow Northeast Nomads, Wyatt and Daniel dropped me off at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to meet up with Lizzy, a senior who was hosting a screening of The People’s Crisis along with her multi-cultural sorority. I didn’t really know what to expect from this school or this screening, but by the end of the evening, I didn’t want to leave!
Lizzy is a sociable genius who will be attending graduate school next year. She is an international student from China and told me that her grandfather fought in the Korean War on the side of the North Koreans and that she was friends with some students at WPI whose family members had fought on the South Korean side. She thought it was interesting that students whose families had once been enemies were now studying together.
All of the students were polite as I greeted them as they walked into the lecture hall where the screening would take place. Maybe it was my nerves, but they seemed so quiet to me as I was about to introduce the film. I actually said (very awkwardly), “Man, y’all are quiet! Hopefully after the film, you guys will be excited!” During the screening, I stood in the hallway and prepared exactly what I wanted to say to them about LiNK’s work and the impact they could have on the North Korean people by becoming more involved. As the credits rolled, I walked to the front of the room and flipped on the lights. As I started to speak, I made eye contact with a guy in the audience with a GIANT smile on his face so, after about a sentence, I was thrown off and all of what I had planned to say wouldn’t come out.
As scatter-brained as I felt, I guess none of that mattered because I ended up reading these sentences to them from an e-mail that we had received from LiNK HQ a few days prior: “As you all know, security has been extremely tight in China which forced us to hold off on missions for the first three months of the year. In the middle of last week our partners notified us that it was safe enough to resume, so we decided to move forward. A new mission was launched last week, and as of this morning, a group of refugees have safely made it to FREEDOM!
That rescue mission was only possible because of people like them who hear about this issue and then decide to take action.
Afterward, I was able to speak with several of the students. They asked great questions about the crisis, our work, and specifically how they could get more involved. Six incredible individuals became Liberty Donors, which means they committed to give $15 a month so that we can continue supporting refugees while walking alongside the North Korean people to pursue an end to this crisis. I gave each of them a big hug — because, in all seriousness, it meant the world to me.
I didn’t expect the night to get any better, but then Lizzy said we were going out for fro-yo (my favorite food!) with her friend, Elisabeth (who, by the way, deserves her own blog post). Lizzy shared with me that her family in China had endured similar experiences during the 1960’s under Mao to those that North Koreans face today. She described the conditions there, including how two of her dad’s siblings had died during the famine.
It was sad to hear her family’s story, yet it was truly inspiring to see how passionate Lizzy was about helping the people of North Korea. She is one of the many world-changers I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know on tour and she will definitely move mountains with her compassion, enthusiasm, and wit.
*Huge thanks to Theta Nu Xi and the Korean Student Association for hosting the event!
From the road,
SARAH PALMER | Northeast Nomad