Years ago a former supervisor of mine gave me a fantastic compliment. He told me that I was an energy center. He added: “Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but there is always SOMETHING going on around you. You seem to be a magnet.”

These days, that SOMETHING is Teach North Korean Refugees. We are attracting volunteers, donors, fans, media. It has gotten to the point that we have staff volunteers rotating shifts in the office because we don’t have enough space to accommodate them all at the same time. I am amazed that we get so much done with such a limited budget and office space.


We have a new student joining TNKR who I am sure will become an Ambassador for us. She wants to improve her English because she occasionally travels overseas for performances. She is at a loss when it comes to English. But she showed her enthusiasm for learning! And she kept praising TNKR for helping NK refugees.

She even signed up as a monthly donor to TNKR.

She wanted to stand on her toes so she could look taller. So I stood on a chair.



One of the things we stress to refugees joining us is that TNKR is a self-study program. They should not expect magic from tutors. Instead, they should see tutors as fluent and native English study partners who can help them. Here is a student self-studying before and after her class. We also stress the importance of learning deeply, not just teachers going through a curriculum.



Tony Docan-Morgan is Professor of Communication Studies, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Senior Fellow of Communication and Advocacy, Teach North Korean Refugees. He helps TNKR with understanding the basics of public speaking. Many refugees have given speeches without getting proper training in making speeches, but our approach is to help them get prepared so they can have confidence. Refugees studying in Track 2 can go on stage, speak at a conference or give a class presentation with confidence. We have seen some of the speakers transform as they have gone from being fearful of being on stage to now tackling speech opportunities.

The Professor is helping a refugee who is a lower level speaker who occasionally gets invited to give speeches abroad about her profession, but she turns down many of the opportunities because her English level is so low. But now she has gained confidence from working with her coaches and our Senior Fellow in communication.

He even gave me some tips one day, proving that an old dog can learn new tricks.


Volunteers working overtime

TNKR could not survive without volunteers. We even have a full time volunteers. They join us even though they know we are a start-up organization with few resources. We have them adjust their schedules because we don’t have enough office space to handle all of them.

Here some of them are working overtime!

This was her first day! She’s a teenager. She came prepared! She watched our videos, read our articles, and chased me down until we could have skype call. She will be helping us with Chinese translations.


Here the volunteer staff is watching the 꽃미남 KC (Pretty Flower Man) video. Yes, they are young, but they managed to watch all four minutes of the video.

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