North Korean refugee Chanyang Ju was the featured speaker at a Freedom Speakers International (FSI) event with tourists visiting South Korea.
I first met Chanyang in 2012 just as I got involved with activism related to North Korean refugees. At that time, she was an ABC-level speaker. In 2014, she gave the most incredible testimonial about me.
It is amazing to see her giving a speech in English without any notes and engaging the audience even as they interrupt her during her unscripted remarks.
I started the event by introducing a bit about FSI and Chanyang.
Chanyang was engaging and humorous. It was clear to the audience that she was speaking with them, not at them. They started asking questions shortly after she started and kept it for the entire event.
It went beyond audience members asking questions. They were trying to finish her sentences. When she struggled with vocabulary they were guessing what the word might be. It was an audience that was clearly listening to the speaker. The speaker and audience were one.
These sessions with tourists are really valuable. They can help the speakers develop speaking skills and confidence. And confidence is something that Chanyang demonstrated today.
It wasn’t just the Q&A that started early. Several of the travelers were taking photos of Chanyang when she was speaking and a few even took photos of me during Q&A time.
When I announced that it was photo time they were ready! They didn’t even mind when I asked them to include the banner in photos with Chanyang.
One of the travelers even asked me to join in the photo.
I brought one copy of Greenlight to Freedom, which one attendee bought. Two others asked if we had more copies they could buy.
Songmi Han, narrator and co-author of the book wasn’t there today. The lady who bought the book asked me to sign it, then she asked Chanyang to also sign it! That's right, she asked Chanyang to sign Songmi's book!
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