Thursday was one of those days we could really appreciate how much TNKR has grown. With very little money, we have created an NGO that provides practical learning opportunities for refugees and has gained respected internationally.
We have had more than 570 volunteer tutors, but just a handful have committed to us long-term. Of the 270 refugees who have joined us, the same is true, just a handful have stuck to us. Having people around us has taken a lot of pressure off us. And now a new thing is happening–we are no longer at the center of every activity.
TNKR presentation to Australian students
Two TNKR Ambassadors and TNKR co-founders Eunkoo Lee and Casey Lartigue spoke to a group of MBA students visiting from Australia. Here’s our group photo after the session.
Some venues have standing room only. Ours included sitting on the floor and standing. My math isn’t great, but 20 chairs, 24 visitors, 6 volunteers=not everyone will get a chair.
TNKR Special Ambassador Cherie Yang was the winner of our fifth English speech contest, so now expectations are higher every time she speaks. And she meets the challenge!
Eunhee has gone from being anonymous to a regular speaker with great confidence.
The students had many thoughtful questions and said they learned a lot.
We had a full house!
TV stations often have a “Green room” where guests wait for their chance to go on the show. The TNKR green room is a study/storage/waiting room.
Standing with TNKR
Over the past few years, we have had almost 600 volunteer tutors and coaches volunteer with TNKR. An important thing for us is having volunteers commit to us long-term. Last year Youngmin Kwon joined us as a full-time volunteer, taking on various roles (assistant academic adviser, project manager of the Bring My Father Home project, translator, office manager). More recently, Dave Fry has joined us as Assistant Director of Publicity and Professor Tony Docan-Morgan has joined TNKR as a Senior Fellow of Communication and Advocacy. The Professor evaluates speeches by TNKR ambassadors and speakers and gives them specific feedback. He has been teaching communications for 15 years, he is so good that I have been recruiting him to become my speech coach. He has conducted three 1:1 feedback session for refugees who participated in our speech contest in February. We want the speech contest to be a learning opportunity in addition to the other benefits.
The Professor going line by line with Cherie Yang over her prize-winning speech.
Feedback session 2 with another refugee who has competed in TNKR speech contests. After the session, he declared, “I learned so much, I think I can win next time!”
Speech feedback session 3: She said aspects of public speaking that she had never considered, that she will be able to use the techniques in her classes. She doesn’t show her face, but she said she has gained confidence in giving a public speech even though her English isn’t that strong.
TNKR discussion about our upcoming brainstorming session. Anna Martinson (seated) and Dave Fry (arms folded) will be leading the session. Spencer has joined TNKR as a fundraising intern and Chansook is a South Korean fan of TNKR who dropped by to volunteer for a few hours.
TNKR Assistant Director Dave Fry is a tutor, fundraiser, donor, motivator and office comedian who is helping us develop long-term strategy.
One of the important developments about TNKR is that refugees in the program have been standing by our side. The ultimate test of a program is: Do the people who are benefiting from the program have a connection to what you are doing? Are they willing to stand by your side?
TNKR Special Ambassador Cherie Yang has taken on a leadership role within TNKR. She is always ready to help, even shooting a promotional video for TNKR.
Joseph is one of the first refugees I met years ago. He brings us gifts and could eventually partner with us on a business project.