2017-07-26 “Happy Virus” Reporters

  1. Long discussion with two different lovely reporters! They are both great listeners, which is good because they were meeting with a talker.
  2. Helped a refugee get prepared to give a speech.
  3. Facebook took down my page the page it allows me to use.
  4. Discussion with Eunkoo Lee about the future of TNKR.
  5. Cited in a blog piece by Cato Institute scholar Neal McCluskey.
  6. My column from the Korea Times Roundtable was posted today. (And photograph).
  7. Several coaches have already been confirmed for the 8/6 Track 2 Orientation and Matching sessions.

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2017-07-22 TNKR 61st Matching session

REFUGEE TESTIMONIALS

Student 1:
I am a student who attended the TNKR Matching Session on July 22, 2017.
I arrived at 1:00 pm.
It was very apparent that Mr. Casey, Ms. Eunkoo, and Youngmin teacher were very busy preparing for the session.
As the session began, the 12 volunteer tutors introduced themselves one by one. All of them had such warm smiles on their faces, and I felt honored to be given the opportunity to study with them as a North Korean refugee. Words cannot adequately convey how happy I felt to see so many volunteer tutors willing to help us improve our English.
It also dawned on me how much the international community was focusing on the situation surrounding the Korean peninsula, particularly in North Korea.
It was also fascinating to see all the students introducing themselves one by one and being given the power to choose their own tutors. It was a very special system unheard of in other organizations.
As a student, I was particularly thankful for the strict policy of only using English and banning the use of Korean in classes. I initially planned to choose 2 tutors, but I ended up choosing 4 tutors.
Two students even chose 5 tutors each.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all the tutors from various countries (USA, UK, New Zealand, etc.) for caring so much about us despite their busy professional schedules.
And I would like to sincerely thank TNKR for shining a light of hope to all the North Korean refugee students.
I also feel hopeful that all of this English support, big and small, will have a monumental impact on the Unified Korea in the future.
Hurrah to the Great Unified Republic of Korea! Glory to our elders from the United States of America!

Translated by: Youngmin Kwon

Edited by: Anna Martinson

 

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

Refugees Read more

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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.

Read more

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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.

***

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.

***

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.

Support TNKR

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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!

*** Read more

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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!

 

Read more

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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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2017-07-02 TNKR Matching: “When can I start?”

TNKR called an Emergency Matching session because we were getting so many requests from refugees. We decided to try to squeeze in another session before our regularly scheduled July 15 Orientation/July 22 Matching session. On such short notice, would we be able to recruit enough tutors?

Yes! Over the weekend, we had 2 orientations with refugees, 1 with tutors, an Open House with volunteers, and a fantastic Language Matching session yesterday. Below are some of my notes.

Participants at TNKR’s 60th Language Matching session:
6 refugees, 10 tutors.

When did refugees arrive in South Korea?
2008 (1)
2009 (1)
2013 (2)
2015 (2)

Read more

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2017-07-01 Emergency English? Hallelujah!

Years before TNKR, I was on the Young Executive Board of the Washington Scholarship Fund, we provided scholarships for low-income children in Washington, D.C.

One of the moments we all looked forwarded to was calling the families to inform them that a child had been awarded a scholarship. The responses were usually screams and shouts of “Hallelujah,” “Praise the Lord” and expletives of joy.

They couldn’t believe they had won a scholarship. Many of them would tell us that they had never won anything. They believed or hoped this would give their children the chance to go to a good school. We later converted the program from a privately funded to a publicly funded program when our lobbying led the US Congress to create the Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Washington parents interested in school vouchers attend an orientation meeting at the DC Convention Center to fill out applications. Pictured, Juanda Benjamin (cq), center, gives her daughter DaQuanda, 9, a kiss as they listen to their options with other hopeful parents. This was after we converted the program from a privately funded to a publicly funded program. Photo credit: Washington Post

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