Jaclyn Corin wanted to meet the people who really understand: The people who know how bullets pierce through flesh and rip apart lives, the people who understand the emotional wake a mass shooting leaves behind when its national profile begins to fade.
And so, when Corin comes to Charleston next week for a town hall on gun reform, she will first meet privately with the loved ones of those who died in the Emanuel AME Church shooting — the people who understand her trauma in a way few do.
"Empathy feels different than sympathy. We receive sympathy all the time. It's a different feeling when they know exactly what we're going through," said Corin, a 17-year-old who survived the Valentine's Day massacre earlier this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Corin said she didn't want the roundtable to be public. After all, so much of her life is these days.
Like the families of the Charleston church shooting victims, Corin's national profile rose out of tragedy.
Since surviving one of the nation's deadliest school shootings, Corin and about 20 other survivors have formed the March for Our Lives movement to call for stricter gun laws.
Their plea for policy change has since spread on social media, through rallies and in schools across the country. This summer, the students decided to take their message on tour in what they are calling the "Road to Change," where they plan to visit some 75 cities over the span of two months.
It's why 12 of the survivors, including Corin, will be in Charleston on Tuesday night hosting a public town hall as part of the tour to discuss gun violence. But about an hour before the event at the Sottile Theatre in downtown Charleston, Corin and her fellow survivors will meet with family members of the Charleston church shooting victims.
The Rev. Sharon Risher, whose mother died at Emanuel, will be there. Her mother, Ethel Lance, was Emanuel's sexton and a devoted lifelong member of the church.
Like these high school students, Risher has been outspoken about the nation's gun laws since her own life was changed by a mass shooting. She is now one of the national spokespersons for the grassroots advocacy groups Everytown and Moms Demand Gun Sense.
"I just want them to know that the work is hard, but you just have to know that you're doing something for the better good of all people," Risher said.
But she also wants them to know they aren't alone. At the national March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington earlier this year, Risher first met Emma Gonzalez, an outspoken survivor of the Parkland shooting.
"When I told her who I was, she just grabbed and hugged me, and tears came down our faces. I think that's what this roundtable in Charleston is going to be about: The human contact and understanding that all of us have gone through something so horrific. Sometimes there aren't words. All you can do is hug," Risher said.
Corin said the upcoming trip to Charleston will be her first visit to South Carolina, but it will not be the first time she has met with survivors of gun violence. She said the goal is to not only lift up the voices of fellow shooting survivors, but to build a national support network.
"It's also to get advice. We are only five months out of our shooting, and they have been dealing with the grief and the pain for far longer," she said. "It's comforting to know that you can talk to someone who has been through it and knows what the long-term looks like."
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention stopped studying gun violence as a public health issue in the '90s. However, the federal agency does track firearm deaths.
In the latest available findings from 2012 to 2016, two-thirds of firearm deaths in the United States are suicides, while most others are homicides. Of those, mass shootings may only account for a small percentage.
"But the healing won't ever quit," Risher said. "You may learn how to cope. You may learn how to use tools in the day to day, but there's never healing from something so horrific."
The local town hall is being organized by the Lowcountry Students for Political Action, a group which was formed by the same core group of students who hold leadership positions in March For Our Lives Charleston.