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2017-11-13 Special Project with Special Lady named Sharon

I first met Sharon Jang in early 2015. She has remained with TNKR constantly since then. Every meeting with her is lovely and inspiring. We are now working with her on a special project, it is all hands on deck with our staff in the office as well as a volunteer in the USA.

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2017-11-11 TNKR Open House was a Full House!

TNKR held an Open House on November 11 to discuss our activities and to encourage volunteers to get involved. Most people who join us naturally want to tutor refugees directly, but we have other needs and also need some people to help us in other ways.

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2017-11-12 Reporters are noticing TNKR again…

TNKR doesn’t have a media list, we don’t reach out to media, and our communications “team” is made up of volunteers helping out in their free time.

Despite that, media stumbles upon us sometimes and does stories. They don’t always mention TNKR in their stories and sometimes they just mention us in passing. As I recall, the interviews this week were with reporters from Sweden, Yonhap, the UK, USA.

I suspected that Trump’s visit to South Korea was part of the reason that reporters happened to find us, but only one was in town for Trump.

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2017-11-10 TNKR staff changes

I’ve heard from volunteers that one of the great things about volunteering with TNKR is that they can take up leadership roles, and they can do so in English.

Staff changes within the last week:

Janice Kim has taken over as Manager of Track 1. Eunkoo Lee and I have developed it over the years, making sure that it offered refugees a maximum amount of autonomy to make decisions while also making it as flexible as possible for volunteers. Janice has shown that she understands our approach and that she also ideas how to expand and implement this. She’s been a monthly donor to TNKR and organized our team at the recent KOTESOL conference. She will be speaking at tomorrow’s Open House.



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2017-11-10 “English is my forever homework”

Catching up on recent activities…

Individual Education Plans

When refugees join TNKR, Eunkoo Lee and I do our best to conduct interviews with them. This past week we had four new students visit the office. Every one of them says something inspirational to remind us why we are constantly trying to upgrade this humble little project.

  • My favorite was a refugee who has already lived abroad and realized how important English is to his future. “English is my forever homework.” Tutors won’t have to wonder if he will be motivated to study. He found out about TNKR recently, he immediately applied to join us.
  • A refugee repeatedly told us how “impressive” TNKR is. She previously paid to study at a language institute, but she didn’t feel that her English was improving enough. Then she heard that she could study English 1:1 with as many tutors as she wants. So she applied!
  • A refugee who has followed TNKR for quite a while finally decided to apply. She said that she is impressed by our “new approach” putting students at the center. She has heard about other programs saying that they focus on the students first, but she can see that we really do so. She said she can feel that she has responsibility for making the class successful, so she will think deeply about ways to have a class that is self-directed.
  • A fourth student made it clear that she is “very eager” to study. She wants conversation, conversation, conversation. I asked her about using Korean in class, she said she really hopes teachers will use only English, she can already speak Korean! She has studied English in many situations in Korea, but this has the potential to truly push her to learn more.

All four of these applicants learned about TNKR from other refugees–three are former students, 1 is another refugee familiar with TNKR.

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2017-10-23 Cecilia, they can’t say they didn’t know

One way to know you are someone special? You’re in the audience, and two of the speakers highlight you in their introductions and speeches in an event at Oxford University.

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2017-10-12 Congratulations, lovely Sharon!

We joined lovely Sharon Jang as the results were announced in an essay test. We were so delighted that she mentioned the impact TNKR has had on her!

She first joined TNKR in early 2015. Her English was at a basic level, she joined both Tracks 1 and 2. She had no fear. And if you know her story about working in a coal mine in North Korea, then you can understand why the thought of giving public speeches gave her no fear.

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2017-10-12 A Face Made for Radio, on TV again

Yes, I was back in a recording studio. Isn’t there anyone who can stop this madness?

TNKR Special Ambassador and I had a great conversation. I am used to giving my opinions, so interviewing is both easy (listen, then ask) and difficult (I have a lot to say, but must make sure others have a chance to talk). Read more

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2017-10-10 TNKR’s British Invasion

TNKR held its second planning meeting for its trip to the UK next week. We had many tasks assigned and have a lot to do.

Our biggest challenge: Attracting attendees to our 10/21 forum.

Here’s the agenda:

1:50- 2:05 Registration & tea time

2:05- 2:10 Welcoming remarks

Casey Lartigue Jr. (TNKR Co-founder)

Jihyun Park (Stepping Stones, Co-founder)

2:10-2:30 The Launch Ceremony of Stepping Stones

2:30-3:00 North Korean traditional dance performance

3:00-3:10 Tea time

3:10-3:25 Speaker 1

Kim Hyeong-soo: Understanding the North Korean System

3:25-3:45 Speaker 2

Park Ji-hyun: Life as a North Korean Woman in China

3:45-4:10 Speakers 3&4

Casey Lartigue & Eunkoo Lee: Impact of English education for North Korean refugees


Q & A

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