Author Archives: nfsjerry

To Keturah With Love

The fellowship is quickly coming to a close. And for the last couple weeks, we will be without our director. Her departure came about as somewhat of a shock, and I don’t know how we’ll survive without her! Although I never knew the organization without her, I am sure that it will never be the same. She seemed to be the glue that held so many different parts of Not For Sale together. Her passion and zeal for both life and Not For Sale was contagious. I first met Keturah via Skype for my interview and I remember getting fired up and excited about work just listening to her talk about the organization. The fellowship would not have been the same without Keturah as our director. From start to finish, she was a mentor, a boss, and a friend. I got the experience of working under her on the Communications team, while other fellows worked with other staff.

I can honestly say that I have never worked so hard in my entire life. I have never been so passionate about something in my entire life. And I hope that I will find something that I can continue to put so much effort towards after this fellowship. This passion that I found, I owe partly to Keturah. She never ceased to push us to do all that we could do for the movement. She was a great listener. Whenever we had problems, she put us above herself. And she knew our potential. She knew we could do more than we did. And lastly, she was a friend. She knew herself how hard we worked, since she too took part in the fellowship.

The day when she announced her resignation, I felt like I had just lost my momma. I was at a loss for words. What would we do without our mama bear? Who would attend to us? But, I know now that we’ll be fine without her. We’ve all grown in our separate ways through the fellowship. We’ve become leaders in our different platforms and have accomplished different achievements.

Thank you Keturah for all that you have done for the Not For Sale fellowship. It will never be the same without you. I hope you know that you have made an incredible impact on my life and I’ll never forget you!

The Mission Statement

Not For Sale was given a hard time for covering so much ground with all of their different platforms. True, it’s a lot to take in. But, look at their mission statement: “Not For Sale creates tools that engage business, government, and grassroots in order to incubate and grow social enterprises to benefit enslaved and vulnerable communities.” How can you engage and involve every single person on this planet in the same exact way? It would be nearly impossible. The organization believes that everyone has something to add to the movement against global slavery. And it’s so true. The importance of having so many platforms finally resonated with me recently. My brother didn’t seem to relate to my sudden interest in joining a non-profit and the fight to end modern-day slavery. In my family’s world, the topic of human rights wasn’t part of our everyday dinner table conversation. So, when the Free2Play app launched, I knew it would grab my brother’s attention. I casually mentioned all of the players that were involved with Not For Sale’s Free2Play campaign. Jeremy Affeldt, Ian Kennedy, Matt Holiday, Jaime Garcia… Finally, there was a spark of interest.  A couple nights later, I saw on Facebook that my little brother had pledged to donate money every time The Nationals, one of his favorite baseball teams, won. I wasn’t expecting to feel what I felt at that very moment. Sheer pride and happiness. It’s not that I didn’t think my brother had any interest in the abolition of modern-day slavery. I just never thought he’d actually take on any action in the movement.  Another friend, who like my brother doesn’t know much about Not For Sale or even non-profits, was drawn to our Impact Report. She’s a graphic designer and had pinned the report to her Pinterest board on design. I couldn’t have been more surprised and shocked to see that the repinning of our Impact Report on Pinterest was in fact, my friend’s doing.

It finally clicked that Not For Sale’s methodology worked. Our goal to get everyone involved. To include everyone’s interests. To somehow “herd all the cats” in the world towards one mission and that is, to end modern-day slavery once and for all.

Week 15 | A mantra worth living your life by

Fourteen weeks have passed since the fellowship has started and I am still learning something new everyday. At Not For Sale, they have their own lexicon that they use on an everyday basis. They should really just put it all into a dictionary and publish it! One of their mantras is “Be better than you were yesterday. Be smarter than you were last week.” I can honestly say that I came into the fellowship knowing very little about nonprofits and human trafficking. Even though I had the passion to end slavery inside of me, I was overwhelmed with the abundance of information that I had to learn. I felt as if I had gone back to school! Ten days into the fellowship, I represented Not For Sale at an event with another fellow. Still very much a newbie, I was so nervous to go there on behalf of the organization. I felt inadequate to answer questions about human trafficking and Not For Sale. I had memorized the mission statement, but didn’t have a full grasp on the ins and outs of the organization quite yet. I wasn’t confident enough to speak about each of our platforms that we had just learned that week. What was the difference between Free2Play and Free2Challenge? What were we doing in South AfricaAmsterdamPeru…? What was our relationship with 31bitsand AllSaints? I hated not being able to sum up the organization in one sentence. “We fight human trafficking” just didn’t cut it. I was frustrated that I didn’t have the Not For Sale elevator pitch down pat. I wanted to be eloquent. I wanted to articulate exactly what Not For Sale did and who they were- because I was proud to work on behalf of them. I believed in what they stood for… and I wanted to get people involved in the movement.

Fourteen weeks in and I’m still not an expert. But, I’m smarter than I was the first day of the fellowship. I finally memorized the three numbers- 657- in the “SB 657,” or the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. I can now tell you about each of our platforms and our passion and methodology behind each of them. I can discern what Not For Sale would believe in and what they wouldn’t deem worthy of their time. I can speak with more confidence about the organization, though with some stutter- as I tend to stumble over my words when I get excited. When I left Virginia, I told my friends I was going to work for an anti-human trafficking organization. Now, I force them to listen to me talk about our Free2Work board on Pinterest, buy from ourAllSaints NFS collection, and read our impact report. I’m better than I was yesterday.

There are exactly two months left. I’m anxious to keep pushing myself to be better, smarter. I’m eager to work my hardest, not for myself… but for the bottom billion. There are sixty days left to make a difference. I know that the session five fellows will leave a successful mark in Not For Sale history. But, I also know that even after we all leave the fellowship and our house in Half Moon Bay that we were able to call home for six months… we will each continue to push ourselves in creating justice for the bottom billion. We will persist as abolitionists in our own unique way as the fellowship has molded us to be. We will use smart activism to advocate for the 30 million human beings enslaved in our world today. And even though we won’t be together in person, we will still stand in solidarity to act against injustice. We will be better than we were yesterday.

Is ignorance really bliss?

Growing up in a Korean-American home, I was raised with the dream of becoming a “professional” of some sorts. The Korean community tends to push their offspring to graduate as valedictorians of their high school, go to an Ivy-League university, and of course move unto medical, dental or law school. The TV show Glee’s description of the “Asian F” held true that anything below an A+ is equivalent to an F in the eyes of Asian parents.

My parents transitioned out of the typical Korean outlook on futures for my brother and I. When I told my parents about Not For Sale and modern-day slavery, they were exceptionally supportive. The world of nonprofits, however, was completely unknown territory to my whole family, including myself. When I first got accepted into the fellowship, my parents had millions of questions. “You’re paying to work as an unpaid intern?” “You’re moving across the country to California? “How exactly are you going to be helping these modern-day slaves?” Non-profit organizations were such a mystery to them that my mom didn’t even bother to explain to my grandfathers what it was that I actually did. Other family members asked me where I worked and after my initial response, they had no further questions but, “So, what’re you doing after?” They thought of my fellowship at NFS as merely an experience that would come to an end. And this killed me. I felt like I was holding back this wealth of information and passion about NFS that I just wanted to spew at them. But, they had no desire to learn. Did they know about the one million South Korean women enslaved in brothels? I wonder. And if they did, why did they remain ignorant? Are people more comfortable not knowing about the 30 million slaves in the world? I suppose ignorance is bliss to some.

Last week, I finally had time to fully explain each of Not For Sale’s platforms to my parents and brother. I was so happy to share about each of the international projectsFree2Rock, the Montara CircleFree2WorkFree2Play, and so on. I was stumbling over my words, because I was so excited… and there was just so much to say.

I asked my Mom what she told people about Not For Sale. She gave me a well-rehearsed speech that was so epic that I wish I had recorded it. (I could tell that she had basically memorized the NFS website and our videos.) “There are over 30 million slaves in the world… Dave went to an Indian restaurant and discovered that slavery is still alive, even in America… My daughter is an abolitionist… NFS creates futures for survivors of human trafficking. Oh, and charity is dead.”

I’m so appreciative for parents who aren’t ignorant and so supportive of the movement. And, of course, I’m also thankful for Not For Sale—this opportunity has been so much more than a six month experience at an international nonprofit. It has literally opened my eyes to a whole new world. It’s ironic that NFS creates futures for survivors of modern-day slavery, because whether they know it or not—they’ve created a new future for me as well.

May the Odds be Ever in your Favor

Entertainment over humanity- what would you choose? I hate to be that fellow that posts about the Hunger Games, but it’s happening. [And yes, that is Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) rockin’ out in the NFS | AllSaints tee!] The phenomenon that is “The Hunger Games” has been taking over the pop culture world and most of the fellows’ lives outside of work. I gave into the peer pressure of reading the ‘young-adult adventure science fiction series’ and have no regrets whatsoever! The movie finally came out and yes, we got there early- stood in line with kids decked out in Hunger Games accessories- pushed through the crowd- and got pretty amazing seats on the first night in its opening weekend.  No shame. For those of you who haven’t had the distinct pleasure of reading the captivating, page-turning trilogy, the story is set in the future when the Capitol selects a boy and a girl as “Tributes” from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television. Heroine Katniss Everdeen and her male counterpart, Peeta, are to compete against highly trained representatives who have trained for the Games their whole lives. Regardless of qualifications and training, all 24 of the teenagers are forced into this annual televised battle to the death for the Capitol, partly for twisted entertainment, partly for brutal intimidation of the districts.

So, what does “The Hunger Games” have to do with Not For Sale? Once you finish the trilogy, you’ll find yourself riled up from the passion of these young people. From the beginning of the novel when Katniss volunteers to take her beloved younger sister’s place for the latest match, you can feel the fire that she has to not only save her sister, but to fight against the evil Capitol. During the Games, all of the Tributes make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and… each other. They undergo twisted punishments in which they have to use all of their skills to stay alive. They endure an emotional rollercoaster as the stark brutality of the games hits them with ups and down. Still, the young characters in the novel stand up in an act of defiance against all that is wrong. Katniss becomes a symbol in the Districts. The citizens are mesmerized by and look up to both her and Peeta as their only strength and hope of tearing down the walls of the Capitol and all that it stands for. The 12 districts rely on the willpower and spirit that only the youth can bring forth for them.

The passion to end global slavery is within our youth. There needs to be a shift in our culture to educate our young people on not only what is happening, but more importantly, about what they can do. It’s called Academic Activism. Students, start with your education, because it is your advocacy. There are so many avenues to take action within academics. Attend a Not For Sale Academy, read a White Paper, check out the Slavery Map, and find resources in the student toolkit. With that knowledge, you can become more engaged as an abolitionist. It is your duty to transform your education into action. Then, empower yourself as a student on your campus to take charge of a Not For Sale club, raise funds with Free2Challenge or Free2Play, book the Academy World Tour or screen the Dark Side of Chocolate. Be the advocate amongst your classmates and rally together to re-abolish modern-day slavery. Lastly, make your school a zero-tolerance community. This means you and your school will not tolerate anything that is not ethically sourced. Become a just campus. Petition and lobby for ethical sourcing at your school. You can eliminate and prevent human trafficking as a community by using Free2Work as your guiding tool.

Students, you have the opportunity to change culture and even change lives. Don’t miss out on the chance to make an impact through Academic Activism. You can do more than spread awareness. The movement is about so much more than a club. It’s about becoming a smart activist for the rest of your life. Start today and make academic activism part of your culture.

A Lifestyle | Week 7

The sun, and more specifically, the sunset, has the power to literally stop people dead in their tracks. What is it about this glowing red ball of fire that people are so in awe of? Marketers and advertisers are paid all kinds of money to come up with catchy jingles and clever slogans that catch the public’s eye and grab their attention. They desperately pour their hearts into and squabble over one word, one spacing, one dot. There is all of this drama just to get the consumer’s attention for a mere second. How jealous they must be over the sun and its power over people. In the midst of the information overload, people are in control to choose what they want to give time to. The average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words of information in a single day. How can Not For Sale captivate people in this super saturated world? Is this single sentence, “There are over 30 million slaves in the world today,” not enough to stop people from whatever it is they are doing and take action? Or how about this for a rude awakening: Between 14,500 and 17,500 are trafficked into the U.S. each year. As the news of modern-day slavery becomes more widespread, will people still be called to action? Will the facts and statistics of human trafficking no longer come as a shock to them? I hope modern-day slavery never becomes “yesterday’s story,” “old news,” or just another tragedy in the world that people get tired of hearing about.

That same sunset has the ability to hold and keep people’s attention. Everyday I run past people fixated on the sunset as if seeing it for the first time. I, too, stand mesmerized every single night as it sets into the bay. But, why do we continue to stand amazed by it every single day when we have seen it before? What maintains their interest? And so– how can we keep the passion of the novice activist alive?

How can we save that first spark and call to action that so many people talk about after hearing about modern-day slavery for the first time?

Let’s make that passion into a lifestyle. Let’s change our culture. Let’s start with changing the way we buy things. Let’s make it a norm to be more conscious of purchases. Refuse to buy products that slaves have made. As a consumer, you have the ultimate power over companies. The public’s refusal to purchase from companies that use forced labor can save lives. Make that refusal a routine. Use the Free2Work app regularly to support companies that don’t use slaves in their supply chains. The way companies conduct business in their supply chains is up to your buying habits. The decision is in your hands. Change the way you shop.

Let’s make Free2Work a way of life.

Week Four | The Cause

One of the things that our fellowship director told us at the very beginning has resonated with me on a day-to-day basis. She said, “It’s not about me, it’s about the cause.” I’ve learned that this statement holds true and is not something to be taken lightly. It’s not easy to comprehend and definitely not always a breeze to follow through with. We have grown up in a culture where we are trained to think, “Why do I need to give that person one minute of my time?”

The fellows now have four weeks of the fellowship under their belt. I know I’m not alone when I say that the past four weeks have not been a sunny walk on the beach—although I can’t complain about my runs past “Miramar Beach.” The work has been demanding, at times draining. There is so much to be done and just not enough time to do it all. Our stress comes from the fact that we can never really feel satisfied with our work, because there is always something else to be done. Most of us work past dinner – sweatpants on and with the laptop positioned just right in our beds.

Fighting modern-day slavery just doesn’t seem to end at 5PM.

The other weekend, I had the pleasure of driving around San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon to work and set up a Not For Sale booth at the Unlikely Heroes benefit. The weather could not have been more gorgeous. The cafes, brunch spots and parks around the city were all filled with people and their dogs. Katie and I, however, spent the day driving around Market St., sans working GPS. What should’ve been a ten minute drive ended up being ninety minutes. It’s a miracle that I made it out of the city without getting into an accident and running over a pedestrian and/or dog. I had the delight of driving the wrong way onto a couple one-way streets, beeped at numerous times, and yelled at by a random pedestrian for pulling over and crying. It was by far one of the most frustrating days of my life. I usually took pride in myself on having an “inner GPS” and a good sense of direction. The stereotype that pegged Asian women with being bad drivers didn’t apply to me. But that day, it indeed approved to be a reality. It took everything in me not to chuck my outdated “smart” phone out the window as it directed me around the same block over and over. I’ve had nightmares of the woman’s robotic voice saying, “recalculating, recalculating…”

We eventually made it to the event in one piece and the response that we got from the attendees made the frenzy of the day worth it. Those that knew of Not For Sale had only encouraging things to say and the people that had no knowledge of human trafficking were just blown away by our efforts. There was also a great feeling of synergy to be surrounded by others fighting the same cause. Erica Greve, founder of Unlikely Heroes,  and Nola Brantley, co-founder of Misssey, amongst many others were in attendance.

To this day, I have no idea if I’m allowed to drive in those lanes designated for buses, taxis, and cyclists. I don’t know the purpose of those spikes and bumps on the road, along with the MUNI’S ugly overhead cables that just seem to dirty up the ever so gorgeous sky. [I haven’t gotten around to googling it.] So, what kept Katie and I from turning around and heading back to our sleepy and peaceful town of Half Moon Bay that day? “It’s not about us, it’s about the cause.”