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One of our speakers for the upcoming 2015 International Students For Liberty Conference on February 13th-15th will be Yeon-mi Park!

Yeon-mi Park enjoyed a rich lifestyle by North Korean standards for much of her life, but after her father was imprisoned for selling items to China, Yeonmi was forced to move out of Pyongyang. She escaped to China with her family after her father’s release, eventually making her way through Mongolia to freedom in South Korea. Yeonmi is part of a generation in North Korea that can’t remember a time when the government provided for its people. This generation has very little, if any, loyalty to the Kim regime. On the Casey Lartigue Show with Yeonmi Park, a TV podcast produced in South Korea, she said that because the North Korean people cannot get anything from the government, they must buy what they need from the markets to survive. At Summit, she will speak on this “Black Market Generation,” including their views on North Korea and the outside world, and their increasing consumption of foreign media. Now living in Seoul, Yeonmi studies criminal justice at Dongguk University. Since her freshman year, she has given speeches in both Korean and English to middle school- and high school-aged children about North Korea. Like our other speaker Joo Yang, she also participates in “Now on My Way to Meet You,” a television program that features North Korean women. After graduating, Yeonmi hopes to complete her master’s degree in International Relations in the United States with further ambitions of working with the United Nations and other organizations to spread awareness of North Korean human rights issues.

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Early in high school I started working at a little restaurant in New Jersey for my first job. I was young and clueless. It was a small place and the majority college-aged staff was very close. It was expected that as the new kid I would struggle to fit in at the start. Weeks and months went by and I began to find my place. I took a liking real quick to one employee named Vinny. His nickname was “Goblin.” He was a high-school drop out, cooked a delicious cheeseburger, and was addicted to heroin. He was one of my best friends throughout high-school and through the job.

Vinnny was awesome. We had so much fun when we were on the same work shift. He would cook and I would cover the counter. We would sing songs and I would just laugh at his jokes and impressions. We made fun of our bosses together. We would try flirting with female customers. We would sneak chicken nuggets to each other when the bosses were not looking. We would argue about hip-hop and yell at each other over songs. After I got my license, we hung out and drove around. He was hard on me though. He wanted me, an idealistic high school kid, to understand the realities of the world around me. I knew about his addiction the entire time and I knew he was struggling.

Vinny was a good friend and there was a real brotherly love between us. But during senior year, I began to work less. When high school ended, I left the restaurant to go to college and we drifted apart. I didn’t see or talk with Vinny for a while. I went back to the restaurant last year and learned that Vinny had died from a heroin overdose in September 2012.

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Ben Carson is full of it. America’s favorite ultra-conservative Fox News personality is criticizing Common Core for all the wrong reasons.

The program will take the power to set education standards from the states and place it in the hands of the federal government. This move has inflamed conservatives and has led them to decry the program as a federal takeover of education and as a move by the Obama administration to force the values of Washington upon school children across our 50 states.

While I wouldn’t go this far in my own personal criticism of Common Core, I will acknowledge that the program is befuddled with problems. Namely, the Common Core standards still place standardized test scores as the benchmark for how we determine whether children are learning. It is asinine to think that failure to pass a standardized test is an indication of low intelligence or an inability to learn.

Our society’s obsession with testing is deeply disturbing. Education in this country needs to be fundamentally re-envisioned. It simply does no good to scrap the old standardized tests and replace them with new standardized tests. Common Core does exactly this and should be rejected as a result.

However, Dr. Carson has other reasons to despise Common Core, and (shockingly) his reasoning is stupid.

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My first Students For Liberty Regional Conference irrevocably changed me and my path in life for the better. That probably sounds like an overstatement—and if you’ve never experienced an SFL RC before, I understand your skepticism. Can one weekend really impact someone so much? But having attended both the Arizona and Southern California RCs last year, I can vouch for the powerful nature of putting libertarians and liberty-minded people together for a whole day. Being surrounded by like-minded people with the common intention of developing ideas and forming communities is the perfect platform to expand one’s own knowledge, passions, and relationships. Although the RC is an opportunity to teach others and inspire change, it is also intrinsically an opportunity for self-evaluation, improvement, and enlightenment.

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The following was written by Linda Kavuka, an African Students For Liberty Executive Board Member. 

The Women For Liberty Seminar held on October 11th at the University of Nairobi was the first of its kind in Kenya. It attracted over 50 participants, with some traveling from as far as Eldoret (6 hours away) and Kitui (3 hours away), both out of town. The fact that women were the target audience also did not deter men from attending. The conversations that came up were very interesting, as the participants challenged each other, asked questions, and came up with solutions to the highlighted issues. This particular audience was very inspiring, being made up of ladies and gents form different schools and faculties of study. Liberty and Leadership formed the agenda for the day as this seminar was taking a different approach from the usual tired topics. Women have been empowered and it is time for young ladies to stop complaining and take advantage of the numerous opportunities accorded to them thanks to increased educational opportunities in the developing world. It is time for women to contest for leadership positions in society, politics, and the economy. (more…)