TNKR called an Emergency Matching session because we were getting so many requests from refugees. We decided to try to squeeze in another session before our regularly scheduled July 15 Orientation/July 22 Matching session. On such short notice, would we be able to recruit enough tutors?

Yes! Over the weekend, we had 2 orientations with refugees, 1 with tutors, an Open House with volunteers, and a fantastic Language Matching session yesterday. Below are some of my notes.

Participants at TNKR’s 60th Language Matching session:
6 refugees, 10 tutors.

When did refugees arrive in South Korea?
2008 (1)
2009 (1)
2013 (2)
2015 (2)

Feedback from refugees (some spoke in English, others had their comments translated from Korean by TNKR National Director Eunkoo Lee)

  • I have studied at other institutions, but they had fixed programs. What I like about TNKR is that the students are at the center. I have the power to choose my tutors. I can ask many questions of tutors without feeling embarrassed that I’m slowing down a class.
  • I really appreciate TNKR, I am always thankful to it and the tutors. The program is tailored to the needs of students. I have gained a lot of confidence when it comes to speaking English. I studied at a hakwon (language institute), but I was often lost in the classes. But here, the tutors have figured out how to focus on my needs, so I have been able to improve. I have returned to TNKR because my tutors have all returned to their native countries.
  • I am so nervous, I could not imagine that so many tutors would show up to help North Korean refugees. Yesterday I was really worried about speaking in English with native speakers. I had never talked directly to a foreigner in English until I met Casey. Because of the dedication of TNKR and the tutors, I will do my best.
  • I really lacked confidence, even when I first applied for TNKR I wasn’t sure that I would be able to study in English with native English speakers. But after the orientation and seeing the tutors today at the Matching session, I believe that I can do it. I can feel that the tutors will be supportive and really want to help us.
  • I have traveled to the United States, but I struggled so much, my grammar is so bad. TNKR gives me the chance to improve my English by studying directly with English speakers who want to help.
  • I went to many hakwons (language institutes), but they run group classes, I struggled so much and didn’t learn anything. I have felt discriminated against in other education settings in South Korea when they learned that I was from North Korea, but TNKR has made me feel welcome. I am really looking forward to meeting the tutors. When can I start?

Three refugees chose 4 tutors each, three refugees chose 3 tutors each. Average 3.5 tutors per refugee.

2 tutors were selected by 3 refugees, 8 tutors were selected by 2 refugees, 1 tutor was chosen once. Average 2.1 refugees per tutor.

How did the refugees find TNKR?
Referred by a friend 3
Facebook 1
YouTube 1
Yeonmi Park’s One Young World speech, then found Casey Lartigue on Facebook 1

How did the tutors find TNKR
Facebook 2
Google 2
Recommended by other TNKR tutors 2
Casey Lartigue (YouTube & TNKR event) 2
TNKR speech contest 1
Housewarming party 1

Tutor motivation for joining.
Volunteering 4
Want to volunteer to help refugees 3
Help NKs with adjustment 1
Help local community 1
Teach adults 1
Enjoy working with people 1
Enjoy TNKR’s sense of community 1
I love helping others learn English 1
Love TNKR’s refugee centered approach 1

Professional goals as stated by refugees
Career advancement 4
Applying for university 3
Talk with foreigners abroad without translator 2

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