Thanks to TNKR volunteer tutor, coach, Music Manager, fundraiser and donor Peter Daley for organizing a speech yesterday at Sookmyung Women’s University. A North Korean refugee who recently joined TNKR’s Track 2 program gave his first speech with us yesterday. He learned a lot! And that’s the point of our speaking program.

Back when I was a sports reporter, I would hear  athletes say that they learned more in their first game than in months of practice. At last, it was real. So most of their improvements came in the second game. The refugee who spoke yesterday said that he had learned so much from the experience. What I have noticed in previous coaching sessions and based on feedback from coaches is that refugees are much more focused in sessions after they have given speeches. As the old saying goes: “The threat of execution sharpens the mind.”

Eunkoo Lee often says that it is important for refugees to give talks like this. They get inspired knowing that people want to hear them. The refugee who spoke yesterday said exactly that after the speech. It was incredible looking at everyone around the room eagerly listening to him.

I had helped him get ready for the talk. Even that was a learning experience for him. Because it was a last-minute coaching session, I mainly focused on pronunciation, grammar and speech structure. I suspect that when he next meets his coaches that he will be more assertive in checking ways he can give a better speech.

Join us on August 5 for “Stories from the North III,” a joint forum hosted by Teach North Korean Refugees and Seoul University of Foreign Studies.

On Facebook, Peter Daley wrote:

My students had to end their 3-week program with a presentation about Korea – they’re all from Russia. They choose, completely on the their own, to explore the differences between North and South Korea and also some of the history concerning the war. They told me their topic a few days ago, and I thought immediately of TNKR. I asked my students if they’d like to hear a speech by a North Korean defector, and they were all for it and took advantage of the opportunity by listening attentively for over an hour in a hot room after lunch and then asking questions for a good 30 minutes with no signs of stopping when we decided to call it a day. The speaker did a great job at short notice – his speech was moving, heartbreaking, yet ultimately infused withe the hope he has for his future. So glad it all came together with very little notice. I think I texted Casey on Tuesday^

The students had many question!

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