“The International Volunteers Workshop: Opportunities to Help North Koreans” was a tremendous success, in terms of measuring success among events.

  • A lot of people were there? Check!
  • Attendees said they enjoyed it? Check!
  • Most attendees stayed from start to finish? Check!!!
  • I led the event without upsetting/offending a lot of people? Pending! Still waiting for feedback. 🙂

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I say it was successful in terms of events because holding the event is just part 1. The key is the follow up. We hosted the event hoping that volunteers would find organizations they could assist and that organizations would find people who could help them overcome their budget struggles and lack of manpower.


Session 1: Andrei Lankov delivered the keynote address. He had the challenge that speakers have at not knowing the audience, so I tried to make it a bit easier by finding out how much attendees knew about him. Of the 230 people who registered in advance, 135 (60%) had never heard of him, 95 (40%) had. And I suspect that some who had heard of him had not read many things by him. So I let him know that in advance because that would be an indicator for him about the audience and the approach he should take.

Session 2: Two North Korean refugees gave testimony and a third introduced her organization. By a coincidence that would give a conspiracy theorists or a fortune teller a heart attack, 135 (60%) of those who registered in advance had never met a North Korean refugee, while 95 (40%) had done so.

“Heartbreaking but inspiring” is what one of the attendees wrote to me this morning about what she heard.

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Session 3: Six different representatives of NGOs presented. It was interesting to hear about the different activities. Even though I am aware of some of them, I got to learn about each one of them more deeply. The most shocking thing is that most people stayed to listen to the NGOs, and that people asked many questions even though the entire Workshop lasted more than 5 hours!

Other thoughts:

  1. So many people arrived on time that we were able to start on time. At one point, we were actually ahead of schedule! Unbelievable.
  2. Volunteers at the Workshop were on the ball. Even when I forgot 5to announce at times when no photographs were allowed, they were monitoring people with cameras. Few details were overlooked, based on the many Kakao messages I was getting during the event reminding me to make various announcements.
  3. We had almost 200 people show up, but according to our team monitoring registration, there were 74 cancellations and no-shows. Wow! Enough of them to have had their own huge event! I will check the final numbers, because crowd counts are always touchy,  and sometimes it depends on who does the counting. For example, some people don’t include speakers and volunteers, but some others do.
  4. The best feedback that I got was from a few of our volunteers who said seeing people outside of TNKR introduced to our program made them realize how special our little project is.
  5. We had an extremely diverse crowd. I haven’t sorted out the final numbers yet, but we had people from 46 different countries sign up in advance.
  6. This past weekend was busy crazy…

Friday night, visited a refugee in the hospital.
Saturday morning, speech to the Asia Leadership Institute
Sunday, International Volunteers Workshop
Monday morning, wrote my Korea Times column

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