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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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2017-10-12 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

4:10-5:00

Q & A

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+1 Volunteers

It is no secret that TNKR relies on volunteer tutors and coaches. But we also have plenty of volunteers helping in other ways. I encourage volunteers to be +1. In addition to tutoring or coaching, they can do one extra thing.

Annie was a volunteer tutor with TNKR in early 2016. She has stayed in touch, promising that she would get involved again. She stopped by on Sunday, she has offered to help us with translation (English and Korean) and social media (Instagram).

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2017-10-08 Orientation 1 for new tutors

TNKR is currently recruiting tutors for its October 15 Language Matching session. Yesterday we had an orientation with six tutors who will be joining us for the Matching session on 10/15 from 2 pm at the TNKR office. We admit refugees to the Matching session based on the number of applicants who finish the application process. With six volunteers already confirmed, then we are confident that we can invite at least 5 refugees.

Would you like to join? Our next orientation sessions are 10/11 or 10/14. Apply here ASAP, get pre-approved by sending in your entire application. This will be Matching session number 65 for TNKR. 

 

 

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2017-10-01 Track 2 Matching session: Choice works, refugees are not passive

“North Korean refugees are passive.” “They must be paid to join NGO activities helping them.” “They are irresponsible and always late.”

Those are some of the comments I have heard over the years from people at other NGOs, from influential people who hear about refugees from colleagues; and others with grant money to recruit NK refugees into their activities. Many of them don’t believe it when I tell them that TNKR has a waiting list of more than 70 refugees eager to join us and that refugees chase us so they can join TNKR. Even refugees who can’t speak English will message me directly, asking how they can join TNKR.

Today at 2 pm we will be having a Language Matching session, our 65th. The first student to show up arrived at 9:40 a.m. this morning. Yes, more than 4 hours in advance.

Refugees are allowed to choose their tutors and coaches based on when they arrive to our Matching sessions. Ever since we saved enough money to get our own office, refugees have been able to arrive at our office (when we used other people’s offices, they understandably had restrictions on us). Some refugees have asked if they could stay overnight for the chance to choose first.

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2017-09-29 Distinguished Global Lecture Series, “The American Known in North Korea”

I had a fantastic time yesterday, I was the speaker at the Distinguished Global Lecture Series at the Graduate School of International Studies Ewha Woman’s University. It was one of the most welcoming and active audiences that I have spoken to in quite some time. They listened patiently, interrupted me during my speech with questions, then had plenty of questions at the end. TNKR co-director Eunkoo Lee declined my invitation to join me as a speaker, but she joined during Q&A to add additional points.

Thanks so much to Assistant Professor Hannah Jun for inviting me to speak. We met earlier this year, after she learned about me she said that she wanted to invite me to speak at Ewha. And it happened yesterday!

There are many South Koreans who are hesitant to invite speakers talking about North Korean related topics, so it is a special thing to have been invited to discuss TNKR! One very eager international student signed up as a volunteer a few hours after the event.

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