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2017-07-22 TNKR 61st Matching session

TNKR began in March 2013 with co-founders Eunkoo Lee and Casey Lartigue matching a few North Korean refugees with volunteer tutors at a small “English Matching” session. Yesterday TNKR held its 61st Language Matching session. We have now matched almost 300 refugees with more than 600 tutors and coaches. We’ve designed sessions so that that tutors teach at least 2 refugees at least twice a month. That means that refugees can have a few tutors but volunteers won’t be overburdened. The result is that in a typical session, refugees select at least three tutors each and volunteers can have two refugees each.

Yesterday worked out so that tutors accepted 2.5 refugees each and refugees hauled away 4.3 tutors each.

  • 12 tutors
  • 7 refugees

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2015-07-22 North Korean Defectors’ Concern (HK)

I have messaged with Owen Lau of 脫北者關注組 North Korean Defectors Concern for at least 2 years, but today was the first time for us to meet in person. He has a wonderful volunteer group based in Hong Kong. Despite lacking resources, his organization gets things done.
NKDC will be hosting a film festival in Hong Kong highlighting movies about North Koreans from (Augut 8-10 or so).

TNKR Testimonials

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2015-07-21 She spoke to me

I joined a TNKR class yesterday with a refugee who has gone from putting her head on her desk so she could avoid interacting with me to now initiating a conversation with me.

One of the key main things we are hearing from refugees is that they gain confidence from talking with TNKR tutors 1 to 1. In classroom situations they get lost in the shuffle, they lack the confidence to try to speak.

She and Christine Kim are now studying together twice a week.

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2017-07-19 Something is going on…

  • Many refugees have been applying for TNKR.
  • Major media (CNN, the Guardian) are finding me again.
  • Volunteers are contacting us, asking how they can help.

Something is going on…

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Several meetings today in three different locations across Seoul.

I started the day participating in a Roundtable discussion at the Korea Times office near Seoul Station.

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I then was interviewed by the Guardian. I usually like to do such interviews while I am sitting at my desk. But in this case, I did the interview in a taxi on the way to our shared office with Save NK. 

My quote has been featured by EuroNews.

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We then returned to the TNKR Study Center. We had two feedback sessions with refugees, two more orientations with tutors to make sure the refugees have enough choices at this weekend’s Matching session.

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2017-07-18 World-famous among refugees

We were visited today by four different NK refugees having feedback and orientation sessions with TNKR National Director Eunkoo Lee. One reason that TNKR is better than ever is that we have more staffers committing themselves to TNKR. And that starts with Eunkoo! She quit her paid job earlier this year to focus on TNKR.

In my case, what a great feeling it was to have the refugees visiting talk about how great I am. One of the refugees said she has watched every video in the TKNR YouTube channel. Another said she is one of my fans. And other testimonials that would have made an average man blush.

 

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2017-07-16 Prep for “Not Just Otto”

Hwang In-Cheol will be one of the speakers at TNKR’s Global Leadership Forum “Not Just Otto” on July 29, 2016. He is the son of Hwang Won, a South Korean who was kidnapped to North Korea when a North Korean agent hijacked a Korean Air plane in December 1969. Today he met with Youngmin Kwon, Project Manager of Bring My Father Home, and Jeannie Chung, a TNKR editor. Mr. Hwang has had a team helping him get ready for this speech–Youngmin with the translation, Jeannie editing the speech, and Anna Martinson and Jeannie reading the speech so he can follow the pronunciation.

RSVP here, TNKR volunteers and donors can bring 1 guest for free.

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2017-07-12 TNKR interviewed about volunteering

Researchers who usually contact us at TNKR want to talk to refugees studying with us. But today was a bit different:

  • According to the researchers who interviewed us today, TNKR is seen as a pioneer in the field of volunteering in South Korea. So they wanted to learn about our process, history, and development. They hope to highlight us so more South Koreans can know about what we are doing. Their focus isn’t on us helping refugees, but on our approach when it comes to volunteering. In many programs, volunteers just drop in, there is no real registration process, but we have high expectations for volunteers. As one of our previous volunteers said, “Volunteering doesn’t have to mean no standards.”
  • The researchers wanted to know about the volunteers. It went a step deeper than South Koreans surprised that foreigners are helping North Korean refugees. Their focus was more on what motivates people to volunteer when they come to South Korea. If South Koreans are more aware of what we are doing then they may be motivated to volunteer.
  • I also let them know that 25% of TNKR tutors also raise money for the organization.

So it was a nice interview!

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2017-07-11 TNKR Hall at Bumyeong HS

When I moderate or host events featuring NK refugees, I try to limit myself to just a few minutes of setting the stage for the refugees to speak. I know that the audience is interested in hearing directly from refugees. So I usually pass the microphone.

I spend so much time organizing events for refugees to speak that I get surprised these days when someone features me as the speaker. Yesterday was one of those days, when I spoke at Bumyeong High School. In case it wasn’t clear that I was the main event, then I just had to take a look around at all of the photos welcoming me to the school!

 

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TNKR in the UK

At the request of refugees in the United Kingdom, Teach North Korean Refugees will has initiated two projects.

  • Connect refugees with volunteer tutors. The refugees are located in New Malden, so we are seeking tutors who can commit to going there or meeting them at location points convenient to New Malden, such as Waterloo, which is the first train stop in London. We will start with the same expectations we use in Seoul: Meet each refugee at least twice a month for a minimum of three months.
  • English speech contest: So far TNKR has held six contests in Seoul. Contest number seven will be in London, to raise awareness about the challenges that refugees in the U.K. face

Sign up here to be a tutor.

To learn more about this effort:

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Happy Birthday, Dave Fry!

Happy birthday to TNKR Assistant Director Dave Fry! From our first discussion it was clear that he was not going to be drive-by volunteer just dropping in.

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