Years ago I read an article about a man who kept track of every detail of his life. The result is that he had boxes and boxes of diaries documenting every little detail. My question when I read the article: How in the world can he get anything done if he is busy writing every moment about what he is doing?
Few people have read his diaries and I don’t even remember his name now. That’s not surprising. After all, who wants to read about a guy using the bathroom at 7:40 am, then making a phone call 15 minutes later at 7:55, then checking the mail at 8:05, stubbing his foot in the door at 8:07, looking at the dog barking across at the street at 8:10 after he slammed his hand in the door as he was daydreaming about recording in his diary the exciting events of the past 30 minutes?
Sometimes I fall behind in posting things about TNKR–because we are too busy DOING them. Here’s a wrap-up of some our recent activities. Clearly I’m smarter than the guy keeping all of those diaries. Instead of writing every detail, I take photos. But then, who in the world wants to look at all of our photos?
In this post:
Feedback and interviews with refugees
Youngmin Kwon, TNKR Academic Adviser
Interviews about TNKR
Visitors to TNKR
Leaving the TNKR Cave
Not in this post:
Matching session on December 9
Orientation on December 10
Bring My Father Home Press Conference
…and other stuff I can’t remember or no one took photos…
When refugees first join TNKR, Eunkoo Lee and I conduct separate interviews. We do this as an initial session before the orientation to get to know the refugees a bit, to make sure they understand that this is a low-budget self-study program, to lower their expectations, to make sure we have an understanding of why they are joining TNKR, and to make sure they are thinking ahead about how to use TNKR well.
So many are overjoyed–some want to take photos with us because they have heard about TNKR. Others are thankful they finally have a chance to study with us. The initial interviews are always great. The refugees who have come in recently range from recently arrivals referred to us by other refugees or government agencies to refugees who have been here for a decade or more but have failed to learn English. Too many wonderful and sad stories, but my conclusion: North Korea is a screwed up country that unnecessarily keeps many of its people ignorant about the world and then cruelly punishes those who seek to escape to the outside world.
YOUNGMIN KWON, TNKR Academic Adviser
Youngmin Kwon joined TNKR when he learned about the campaign to have Hwang In-Cheol’s father rescued from North Korea. Since then, he has taken on a number of roles, always doing his best. One of his most important roles is tutoring NK refugees who are on our waiting list. He was a military translator, he is constantly thinking in both Korean and English. His bilingual skills are useless however when it comes to giving some refugees their first 1:1 English immersion. Some of the refugees keep using Korean with him, but he holds off, knowing that his role is to help them get prepared for joining the Matching program.
At one point, I believe that he was tutoring four refugees. He is a key person in the development of TNKR. We know that eventually he will return to his life in the USA, but we are really lucky that he has now been with TNKR for 18 months.
INTERVIEWS ABOUT TNKR
Halfway through December, I have been interviewed several times–and still have two people chasing me for interviews. The interviews have been for a documentary, magazine, and by a professor doing research.
We are happy to have visitors come to our office, when they make an appointment. Even appointments can be dicey because many people who want to visit are late, or need to change the time, or suddenly need to postpone, or when they arrive someone else has dropped in. When we first opened our office July 2016, we would have visitors dropping by so often that people had to wait in line to talk with us. Of course, if we didn’t have any work to do then we could meet people all day long. But then, why would they want to visit us?
LEAVING THE TNKR CAVE
It happens less often these days, but ’tis true, we do visit others sometimes.
Staffers Stabilizing TNKR
The main reason? We have staffers committing to us for more than a few weeks or months. We can’t pay salaries so we must rely on people finding us and being committed to us. At last, there are volunteers who have their own ideas and ways to get things done. We talk about those things, figure out what makes sense, then do them! Janice Kim has taken over Track 1 and is also handling recruitment for Track 2. Tony Docan-Morgan is in charge of Track 2, giving it the structure I have daydreamed about. Oliver Brown and Youngmin Kwon are the jack-of-all-trades, always finding ways to do more to help TNKR grow. A few years ago, I felt like a basketball player taking every shot, we didn’t enough of a team.
Here are team members looking very serious about something.