Doan Viet Hoat, a democracy advocate from the former South Vietnam, survived years of detention before a sentence of forced labor and incarceration that included 12 years in a cell with 40 inmates for fomenting unrest in Vietnam. He told students that every kind of pro-democratic activist—from those involved in politics to artists, musicians and journalists—faced persecution and "suffered government retribution." Activism needs more than passion, he said. It also requires a depth of knowledge of the world. "You can do this," he told the students. "But you must know what's happening in Vietnam, in Burma, in China," before real change can be achieved.