Activist Profile: Victor Tsou
October 24, 2007
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up on the East Coast, then moved to California ten years ago. I haven’t left since and am now a proud resident of Oakland. I have been pleased these last two weeks to have seen Oakland A’s paraphernalia every day while leafleting on campuses in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Washington!
What do you do for relaxation / entertainment?
I love to hang out with my partner Miranda, who is also one of AAC’s top leafleters this semester! We like to do lots of things together: make music, listen to music, play with the cats, talk, make food, and have fun in a thousand other ways!
What was the last good book you read or good movie you saw?
Since I started leafleting, I’ve become interested in learning about the ways in which groups reach out to individuals with their messages. I recently watched two documentaries, Jesus Camp and Hell House.
From IMDB’s summary of Jesus Camp: “Building an evangelical army of tomorrow, the Kids on Fire summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D., is dedicated to deepening the preteens’ spirituality and sowing the seeds of political activism as they’re exhorted to ‘take back America for Christ.’” I like how the organizer of Jesus Camp unapologetically thinks big and methodically, relentlessly goes for her goal.
Hell House looks at a Dallas area church’s take on the Halloween haunted house. Inside, people see a variety of skits performed about social ills and the subsequent salvation or damnation of the participants depending on whether they choose to accept Jesus. At the end of the haunted house, participants are given that choice for themselves. This movie reminded me of an AR haunted house created by the members of BARC last year. What a creative way to deliver the message!
Who has been / is a major influence in your life and why?
In the realm of animal rights, Erik Marcus, Jack Norris and Matt Ball have been the most important influences. These three are directly responsible for my involvement in activism, so I have a great deal of gratitude for them. And, of course, I am motivated by the billions of animals born, raised and slaughtered each year to satisfy archaic learned taste preferences.
How long have you been involved in animal rights and how did you get interested?
About a year after I first went vegan, I attended a talk given by Erik Marcus where he said, “If you go vegan, you can save thousands of lives. If you become an activist, you can save millions of lives.” I knew then that I had to do more. That line has never left me.
What made you decide to start leafleting? If you were nervous the first time, how did you get over it?
I was definitely nervous the first time I leafleted! I had volunteered to leaflet with the UC Berkeley student group. I was handed a stack of leaflets, given 30 seconds of training and was on my own. I had a hard time at first dealing with any rejections. After a few minutes, I realized that the difficulty was all in my head and that leafleting was a great way to study my reactions to rejection. With that realization, leafleting became fun! As a secondary benefit, because of the leafleting I’ve done, today I’m much more confident in other areas of my life.
After seeing how easy leafleting was, I started leafleting regularly on my own. I also preferred leafleting over other activities because I could be effective on my own without much advance planning and without needing the organization of a group.
What was your most positive leafleting experience this year and why?
Wonderful things happen all the time while leafleting. Today, for example, a female student told me she recently read the book Skinny Bitch and now wants to go vegan. She asked for extra copies of Even If You Like Meat for her English class; they were having a discussion right then in English class about the booklet and all of her classmates wanted a copy. I hear about these conversations between students all the time and these peer group discussions, catalyzed by the literature, lead to thoughtful consideration about the lives and deaths of “food” animals.
What would you say to individuals hesitant about leafleting?
You’re not alone! Even now, after leafleting full time for over a year, I feel nervous some mornings when stepping onto a campus. As with most fears, the scariest part is thinking about doing it, so take that first step and hand out that first leaflet! If you need a boost, the Adopt a College Yahoo! Group is a great place for inspiration and support.
We each have the power to effect great change in the world. Although it isn’t flashy, glamorous or particularly sophisticated, leafleting is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save the lives of animals. If you leaflet for just an hour each month, over the course of your lifetime, you will personally be able to keep over a million lives from ending brutally, violently, horrifically in slaughterhouses.
Now let’s go out and leaflet!