Casey Lartigue speaking at Korea University conference (2015-05-30)

Casey Lartigue Jr., co-founder of the Teach North Korean Refugees project, will be one of the speakers at the “Building Global Learning Community through Communication, Trust and Networking” conference on May 30th 2015, at Korea University in Seoul, Korea. 30,000 won for adults, 20,000 won for students.
http://www.aceofkorea.or.kr/

May 30 conference

 

2015-05-03 TNKR featured on Al Jazeera TV

North Korean Defectors Learn English to Communicate

Volunteers to hold meeting for NK refugee program (Korea Times, 2015-04-29)

http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2015/04/113_177935.html

Volunteers to hold meeting for NK refugee program By John Redmond

The co-founders of the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) program invite volunteers who wish to learn more about the project to a meeting in Yeouido, Seoul, May 6.

“We have had so many people ask how they can help,” the group’s website says.

“TNKR will be meeting with interested volunteers who would like to find out about what we are doing, and would like to find a way to get involved.”

Volunteers are asked not to show up expecting to be assigned tasks, but “come with your thinking cap on, use your brain to find your own role.”

Normally held on Saturdays, this session is to reach those with weekend schedule conflicts.

The non-political and non-religious humanitarian organization focuses on providing assistance to those who have escaped North Korea.

“The primary focus of TNKR has been to provide English learning opportunities to refugees and to provide them with more options for determining their place in society. All tutors involved in the project are volunteers, and there is no cost for the refugees,” the Web page states.

TNKR provides two different tracks for refugees to choose to join and is a learner-focused project which encourages them to take charge of the way they learn and improve.

“Every refugee is given the choice of what direction their language learning will take by deciding upon their own study goals and selecting their own tutors.”

The meeting will take place at the Songu building from 7:15 p.m.

To get there leave the National Assembly Station on subway line 9 at exit 3 or 2 and make a U-turn. Walk between the KB bank buildings. As you reach the street it will be the building slightly to the right. The meeting will be in Room 805. For those who get lost, the office number is 070-4115-9600.

Please take the regular train and not the express train. The express train passes the National Assembly Station.

For more information visit http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org or the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TeachNorthKoreanRefugees?fref=ts.

TNKR-OpenHouse-Flyer

English Matching sessions, May 9 and 16

Kiyun--TNKR May flyer

Sean Massenburg running for TNKR!

Good guy Sean Massenburg is raising money for TNKR! His goal is to raise $500 as part of his running in the Han River Seoul Marathon on June 6.

Link is here.

Sean Massenburg

2015-04-17 Daejeon-MBC features Teach North Korean Refugees project

The Teach North Korean Refugees project featured on MBC-Daejeon and MBC-Seoul.

북한이탈주민을 보듬기 위한
우리 사회의 노력을 전하는 연속보도,
마지막 순서입니다.

북한이탈주민들이 우리 사회에 적응할 때
대부분 자신감 부족으로 어려움을 겪는데요.

이들에게 무료로 영어를 가르치며
자신감을 키워주는 외국인 봉사 단체가
있습니다.

 

KakaoTalk_20150417_134833974 KakaoTalk_20150417_134836035 KakaoTalk_20150417_134839817 KakaoTalk_20150417_134842251 KakaoTalk_20150417_134856897 KakaoTalk_20150417_134859560 KakaoTalk_20150417_134900738 KakaoTalk_20150417_134902167IMG_2864

Defecting from North Korea’s middle class (Groove Magazine, 4-17-2015)

Groove Magazine has a nice feature on two of the participants in the Teach North Korean Refugees project.

When Kim Chol-soo and his wife, Kim Young-ok (not their real names), first arrived in South Korea they had doubts about their new life. It was not what they had expected. Worries over finances arose soon after their arrival, and the government-provided apartment failed to offer them the same comforts as their home back in North Korea. Their first few months living in the South were difficult — a far cry from the life they had just left behind.

(snip)

DylanGoldby-0004

 

 

 

Project helps defectors adjust to a new society (Joongang Daily, 2015-03-30)

 

Staff members from Teach North Korean Refugees take part in a matching session on March 21, in Seocho District, southern Seoul. The project partners North Korean defectors with volunteer English tutors. By Park Sang-moon

A North Korean defector who asked to go only by his English name, Ken, recalled graduating from college and later volunteering to join the military.

Unlike most of his fellow countrymen, whose service is mandatory, he explained he was exempt, for a reason he wished not to specify.

“Sometimes I think I’m crazy. For 10 years!” he said in broken English, explaining that he couldn’t understand how he convinced himself to sign up in the first place.

Having spent a decade – his entire 20s – in the North Korean army, he was quick to add that he had been resolute when making the choice.

“North Korean broadcasting had been brainwashing me from the time I was 1 years old until I was an adult. I had to be loyal to the Kim family,” Ken added, referring to the reclusive state’s ruling dynasty.

His affiliation with the military was his way of showing he was part of this unconditional personality cult, he said.

As the 35-year-old told his story, Canadian national Amelie Lacroix, who teaches English to kindergarten and elementary school students here, listened with widening eyes and occasional expressions of shock.

“For 10 years? Were you aware you’d be serving that long? How was it?” she asked, leaning toward Ken from across a coffee table at a three-story cafe in Jongno District, central Seoul, as if to coax him into speaking up.

In a blunt tone, Ken answered: “I was extremely hungry. The government provides 700 grams of rice every day, but other organizations and other higher-rank officials take it and take it. Maybe if I’m lucky, I get 400 or 550 grams per day. But only rice. No side dishes.”

The pair, who spoke over a cup of hot americano and imported chocolate-banana cookies, both belong to the Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) project, which matches defectors with volunteer English tutors.

Co-founded in March 2013 by Lee Eun-koo and Casey Lartigue, the group has so far directly matched more than 170 defectors and 240 teachers, the latter mostly foreigners teaching English at local schools or private academies.

The program consists of two tracks: In Track 1, titled “Finding My Own Way,” refugees are matched with tutors who help them to generally improve their English; while Track 2, also “Telling My Own Story,” supports refugees seeking to become public speakers and links them with coaches who help them with self-expression.

Ken and Lacroix’s lesson last week was their first Track 2 session after having been introduced to each other a week earlier through TNKR.

“In university, I studied international relations and modern languages, so it’s really interesting to be close to North Korean issues [through this program] and to see how such people lived under such a [Communist] regime,” said Lacroix, 23.

TNKR typically holds monthly matching sessions for each track, in which a group of defectors and tutors gather to introduce themselves and select their partners.

Seven refugees and 10 tutors are chosen for a session in the order they submit applications and pass screening procedures. A waiting list can hold up prospective participants for a couple months.

Before the matching session, the TNKR staff hosts an advance orientation session with selected tutors to hand out basic instructions. Their resumes are then distributed to the refugees so the students can preview their candidates.

In order to be matched with a defector, participation in both the orientation and matching session is compulsory.

At a matching session, tutors introduce themselves one by one, highlighting a preferred time, location and their teaching skills, followed by the refugees, who do the same. The students then take turns selecting as many teachers as they want and exchange contact information to set up their first lesson.

“Koreans can join as teachers, too,” said Lartigue, who works as the director of international cooperation at Freedom Factory, a local think tank. “Some refugees can’t speak in English and want bilingual teachers.”

The matched pairs are required to meet a minimum of twice a month, 90 minutes each time, for three months at agreed upon locations like coffee shops. To make sure no one slacks, the TNKR staff asks everyone to submit short reports after each lesson.

“When we first started, we weren’t monitoring, and the result was that they never contacted us,” said Lartigue. “There were some problems, such as classes being canceled.”

One way to get around that, he added, was to allow the defectors to choose more than one tutor so that they could bounce between different tutors and choose whoever fit best with their schedule.

In terms of qualifications, the staff “typically lets everyone through,” and then allows the students to do their own screening later into their lessons.

The staff warns foreigners beforehand, however, to never get too involved in the defectors’ stories unless the refugees initially speak up.

Peter Daley, an assistant professor in the General English Program at Sookmyung Women’s University, recalled his first Track 2 meeting with one student last week.

“She was reading her script, and then suddenly stopped to say, ‘Ah, it’s really hard for me to keep thinking about this.’

“I felt guilty because I kind of felt a bit detached. For me, it was like reading a book, to hear her say she hasn’t seen her brothers for a long time, and that she hopes they’re safe and that they can meet each other again.”

The 42-year-old, who said he joined TNKR out of sheer interest about totalitarian regimes and to help North Korean defectors adjust to their new lives, added that he wished to fulfill his humanitarian goals via the program.

“This is just one way of helping out. You can’t always change the world but you can have an impact on an individual,” he said.

One 23-year-old college student, who defected to South Korea in 2011 and declined to give his real name, said TNKR was a shot at a “normal life.”

“In order to get adjusted to the South, refugees must fill their minds with so many things they were restricted from in the North,” he said.

“English is an essential tool to live here, and joining TNKR, you can meet so many people from so many different backgrounds,” he continued in Korean, adding that the cosmopolitan vibe enabled defectors to broaden their prospective toward a world from which they were once completely shut out.

Lacroix, the Canadian, admitted that her parents expressed a little displeasure when she first told them she wanted to join the group.

“They said ‘Oh my God, be careful.’ Because it’s a normal Western reaction to think that North Korea has such an oppressive regime, and that it can affect people.”

Anxiously eyeing Ken – whom upon hearing her comments burst into laughter and joked, “What? I’m innocent!” – she added that her first lesson went much smoother than she had imagined.

“I think people are the same, and he has good intentions. I don’t worry,” she said.

For more information about TNKR, visit teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

Website Changes

TNKR is expanding and many changes are on the way!

Please bear with us as we complete an overhaul of our website.

TNKR  홈페이지는 현재 새로운 모습을 위해 단장중입니다.

곧 다시  찾아뵙겠습니다. ^^

그러나, TNKR 영어 매칭신청은 “신청하기-학생용”에서 그대로 신청하시면 됩니다.

2015-03-17 Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) project meets visiting HS students

The Teach North Korean Refugees project met and talked with high school students visiting from the USA. It was our second event in the last week, and both times were elegant and poignant.

Three of the refugees are in Track 2 (“Telling My Own Story”) and two are in Track 1 (“Finding My Own Way”). Three of them were first timers so they had jitters but told us that they are glad they did it.

Another speaker began her speaking career five weeks ago–she has now given 7 speeches. I can REALLY see her improvement (of course, she thought she was terrible). Another speaker is an expert, she was clearly at ease.

We were encouraged and inspired by all of the speakers. It is easy to forget how dangerous it can be for refugees to speak out. Many still prefer to remain anonymous or even avoid speaking opportunities.

Thanks to the TNKR team (co-Director Lee Eunkoo, Operations Manager Suzanne Atwill Stewart and Special Ambassador Cherie Yang) for coming out on a Tuesday afternoon to cheer on our speakers and to help make the event even more special.

One of the teachers was particularly touched by what he heard. He had many questions during Q&A, then followed up with me later with a GREAT idea. So we are going to be in touch, to make it happen.

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