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2017-02-22 Waking up the dead (Pyongtaek conference)

I was delighted to be one of the four speakers at a conference hosted by the Pyungtaek Social Welfare Foundation.

The theme: “Multiculture and Global Social Welfare Forum.”

The reality: “Can you endure?”

I asked one of the attendees what was memorable about the conference. Without hesitating, he said, “You woke up the room. People were chit-chatting, not paying attention.” Well, I was in and out of the room networking, chatting, taking photos, so I don’t know what the other speakers were saying. 🙂

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2017-02-20 Blast from the past

We were visited yesterday by one of the first refugees to study in TNKR! She has remained a friend of TNKR, and of course I love her because she constantly praises me as a hero of NK refugees. Well, that’s the official reason I love her.

The unofficial reason is that she always says I am so handsome. 🙂

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2017-02-12 Speech at camp (Seongdo)

I’m in Seongdo this afternoon giving a speech at a leadership camp.

The teacher in charge had them do research about me in advance, so the students were already familiar with TNKR! About 30 middle school students know TNKR.

The best question: What’s my ultimate goal with TNKR?

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2017-02-09 Future Award Winner?

I found out yesterday that I have a great chance to win an award given by a South Korean foundation. There are only two candidates left in the competition–I’m one of them.  It would not be the first time I have won an award. It would be special because this organization has nothing to do with NK refugees issues, but they think what I am doing is outstanding.  They are telling the final two nominees that no matter who wins that this will be the start of a relationship, that they hope to provide some financial support for our efforts and that they will try to highlight us.

It is an honor, but still, I’d prefer to win. If I win, I will do a touchdown dance in the other guy’s face. I will have a box of Kleenex ready for him. Then encourage him to get ready to try again next year. Clearly, I won’t be a graceful winner, but if I lose, yes, I will say that it was an honor to be nominated, and I will try not to tackle the other guy if he does a touchdown dance in my face.

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2017-02-07 “TNKR gave me my name” Eunhee Park

I used to say, “Today was a special day,” but these days, it seems that every day is special. Super special North Korean refugee Eunhee Park had class with one of her tutors. Then we talked about TNKR’s upcoming activities and ways that she can be more involved.

When we told her about our new fundraising site, she immediately set one up. She is a thoughtful lady. We can be talking about something really simple, then she will suddenly say something profound.

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2017-01-22 “Time and a Dime” discussion (hongdae)

I led a discussion about my recent Korea Times column, “Time and a dime.” We had a great turnout, the largest I have seen at this particular discussion group.

There’s an old saying: After being in China for a week, you are ready to write a book. After being in China for six months, you think about writing an article for your hometown newspaper. After being in China for a year, you put your head down and mutter.

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2017-01-19 NK refugees learn English to survive here

Today’s Korea Times has a feature on the establishment of the TNKR-Korea Times Newspaper Discussion Club.

TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue presented his recent column “Time and a Dime.”

He will also be discussing the column at two English-language discussion groups:

Friday January 20, from 7:30-9:45 pm (Gangnam)

Sunday January 22, from 10:45 am-1:00 pm (Hongik University)

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2017-01-17 TNKR at the DMZ

The Asia Leadership Trek invited me to join for a trip to the DMZ. It was a surprising moment when the US military person giving us a special tour recognized me. He he loves the work that TNKR does. He also said that with the use of facial recognition, the North Korean soldiers may be able to identify me.

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2017-01-06 TNKR elevator, next floor!

I met her shortly after she escaped to South Korea in 2014. It is hard to believe that she started in TNKR at the ABC level. She has now reached the level that she can tease me in English. Her sense of humor is so sharp that I feel like she is bullying me–in English!

In this photo, she was trying to stand on her tippy-toes, so I stood on her foot.

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2017-01-06 From Austria, Iowa, NYC and Korea, with love!

In the last few days, Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) has received donations from fans in four cities in three different countries! Austria, the USA (NYC and Iowa) and South Korea!

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