, , , ,

2017-03-22 Pam Davidson, TNKR volunteer forever!

Back in March 2013, “English Matching” began quietly. One of the biggest changes occurred when Cho Joo Yeon joined us. She brought us so much energy that for the first time, we could think about expanding as an organization. She recruited volunteers for us. One of them who has remained with us, no matter where she goes, is Pam Davidson.

Whenever we were holding a meeting, Pam would come from “The End of the World” to join the session. She was then living several hours away from Seoul, apparently on the last road before you would land in water to the south of South Korea. Matching sessions, speeches, special events. It didn’t matter, she would join, or apologize. She even attended one of our events in North Carolina back in 2015.

She was the first TNKR volunteer to donate to us. That was at a time that we didn’t have an office, website, phone, or future!

Pam returned to the USA a while ago, but she has remained one of our cheerleaders. She is always saying on Facebook that she wishes she could watch our events. I have held off on recording events until we had a team in place that could do it in a professional way. We are not an organization with Internet buzz, we haven’t had a marketing or social media team in place, so we might put a lot of effort into it but only get 800 clicks. When refugee speakers in our program are ready to present, we want to do it in a professional way that they can be proud of!

Finally, because of donations from supporters, we finally have enough money in the bank that we can think about an expansion I have had in mind for a long time: A TNKR video project. If we are successful, we will finally be able to present stories of TNKR speakers in a professional way. Unlike many people, Pam doesn’t just give praise! As soon as I told her that we were setting up a video project, she set up a fundraiser to support it!

Pam Davidson joined TNKR as a volunteer in early 2014. Read more

, , , ,

2017-03-21 TNKR featured by Koreana magazine

Teach North Korean Refugees has been featured in the Spring 2017 edition of Koreana magazine (Vol. 31 No. 1). The author of the article is journalist Kim Hak-soon, a Visiting Professor at the School of Media and Communication at Korea University.

Koreana (PDF)

 

 

, , , ,

2017-03-15 TNKR presentation to American high school students

Four TNKR Ambassadors presented last night to a group of high school students visiting from the USA. The students had earlier gone on the DMZ trek, then wrapped up the day by talking with refugees in TNKR.

We had a great time, the students asked many questions and were deeply engaged.

Read more

, , , ,

탈북민들, 북한 탈출하게 된 사연 영어로 나눠

탈북민들, 북한 탈출하게 된 사연 영어로 나눠

2017-02-27 : 19:21

지난 토요일, 서울 명동소재 법무법인 세종에서 열린 북한이탈주민 글로벌 교육센터(TNKR – Teach North Korean Refugees)의 제 5회 영어 말하기대회에서 우승한 탈북민 양세리씨(왼쪽 두 번째)가 존 슐츠 주한미국상공회의소 대표(왼쪽 첫 번째)와 케이시 라티그 TNKR 공동대표(왼쪽 세 번째)와 함께 포즈를 취하고 있다. 존 슐츠 대표는 이번 대회에서 3명의 심사위원 중 한 명으로 참여했다. / 사진제공: 존 레드몬드 기자

탈북민 양세리씨, 영어 말하기대회 우승 차지

글 | 존 레드몬드 기자

지난 토요일, 서울 명동소재 법무법인 세종에서 열린 북한이탈주민 글로벌 교육센터(TNKR – Teach North Korean Refugees)의 영어 말하기대회에서 7명의 탈북민들이 중국을 거쳐 북한을 탈출한 경험에 대해 이야기했다.

주제는 “그 순간: 내가 탈북을 결심한 계기” (“That Moment: My Escape from North Korea”). 주어진 10분의 시간 동안 각 참가자는 자신이 탈북을 결심하게 된 계기 혹은 삶의 전환점에 대해 영어로 이야기했다.

많은 참가자들이 북한정권의 세뇌교육과 세상에 대해 전혀 알지 못하며 자란 사실을 언급했다. 한 참가자는 2012년 특별히 북한에서도 월드컵 경기를 방영해 주었는데, 그 경기들을 보면서 참가국가들의 이름을 전혀 알지 못한 일화를 소개했다.

익명을 요구한 상기 참가자는 “세계지도를 한번도 본 적이 없어서 호주라는 단어가 무엇을 뜻하는지 알 수 없었다”며 “내가 아는 나라는 북한, 한국, 중국, 미국이 전부였다”고 말했다.

탈북한 뒤 체포되는 것에 대한 두려움은 거의 모든 참가자들이 공통적으로 언급했다. 한 참가자는 기차에서 체포된 뒤 어머니와 함께 자살을 논의한 가슴 아픈 사연을 소개하기도 했다.

이번 대회 최우승의 영예는 친구의 집으로 피신하자 마자 북한 보위부에게 쫓기고 있다는 사실을 알게 되었다는 양세리씨에게 돌아갔다.

“며칠동안 논밭을 헤맨 끝에 친구집에 도착했어요. 그런데 친구가 보위부 사람들이 저를 찾고 있다는 거예요. 북한을 떠나지 않을 수 없었어요.”

제 5회 영어 말하기대회 준우승은 탈북민 엄영남씨가 차지했다.

이 날 많은 참가자들은 사진촬영을 할 수 없었다. 본인과 북에 남아있는 가족들의 안전에 대한 우려 때문이었다.

케이시 라티그 TNKR 공동대표는 “이번엔 보다 많은 참가자들이 북한정권의 위협을 심각하게 여기고 있다”면서 “내용 녹음도 하지 말아 달라고 부탁한 사람도 있어 내부토의를 거쳐 이번 대회는 비공개로 진행하기로 결정했다”고 말했다.

TNKR은 탈북민들에게 무료로 영어교육을 제공하는 서울시 비영리단체로서, 설립이후 264명의 탈북민들과 539명의 원어민 자원봉사자들을 연결해주었다.

지난 2013년, 라티그씨와 한국인 이은구씨가 공동으로 TNKR을 설립했다.

라티그 대표는 “자원봉사자 코치들이 탈북민들과 함께 연습하는 모습을 바라볼 때가 가장 멋진 순간”이라고 말한다. “1월 26일부터 총 18명의 자원봉사자 코치들이 7명의 탈북민 학생들과 연습해 왔다. 39회의 1:1 수업, 총 66시간 함께 연습했다.”

“이렇게 많은 전세계 자원봉사자들이 함께해 주어 얼마나 큰 행운인지 모른다. 탈북민들이 영어능력을 기르고, 학업과 취업준비를 하고, 나아가 자신들의 이야기를 세상과 나눌 수 있도록 그들은 기꺼이 시간과 노력을 할애한다.”

이번 행사는 TNKR과 법무법인 세종이 공동으로 주관했고, 코리아 타임즈와 한국 산업은행의 후원으로 진행되었다.

추가정보: TNKR 페이스북 (facebook.com/TeachNorthKoreanRefugees)

Translated by Youngmin Kwon, Proofed by Eunkoo Lee

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2017/03/181_224795.html#

 

 

 

Defectors tell story of escape from North Korea

2017-02-27 : 19:21

North Korean refugee Cherie Yang, second from left, poses with American Chamber of Commerce in Korea President John Schuldt, left, and  Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) co-founder Casey Lartigue, Jr., third from left, after winning the grand prize in TNKR’s fifth English speech contest at Shin & Kim law firm in Myeong-dong, downtown Seoul, Saturday. Schuldt served as one of three judges for the contest. / Courtesy of John Redmond


Cherie Yang wins English speech contest

By John Redmond

Seven North Korean refugees related their experiences of escaping North Korea via China in an English speech contest organized by Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) at Shin & Kim law firm in Myeong-dong, downtown Seoul, Saturday.

Themed “That Moment: My Escape from North Korea,” the speakers were given 10 minutes to talk about a particular moment or a turning point in their lives as they realized they had to escape the reclusive country.

Many spoke of the North Korean regime’s brainwashing tactics and living in complete ignorance, with one contestant speaking of watching a rare television broadcast of the 2012 FIFA World Cup and not knowing who the other countries were.

“I had never seen a world atlas before. I didn’t know what Australia was. All I knew was North and South Korea, China and the USA,” he said, asking to remain anonymous.

The common theme with most speakers was the fear of being caught. One contestant said that he and his mother discussed suicide after being arrested on a train.

Grand prize winner Cherie Yang talked about how she fled to her friend’s home only to discover the police were looking for her.

“After days of wandering across fields I came to my friend’s home. I was told the police were looking for me. I had to leave North Korea,” Yang said.

Ken Eom, another refugee from the North, grabbed second place in the fifth biannual speech contest.

Many contestants did not allow their pictures to be taken for fear of their own lives and the safety of family members still in North Korea.

“This time, more of the speakers are taking the threat seriously,” said TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue, Jr. “A few of our speakers have asked us not to record their speeches this time. So we had an internal discussion and decided to have this contest off-record.”

TNKR is a Seoul-based NGO that provides free English language lessons for North Korean refugees. It has connected 264 North Korean refugees with 539 volunteer tutors and coaches.

The group was established in 2013 under the leadership of Lartigue and National Director Lee Eun-koo.

“A fantastic thing is observing sessions where coaches and refugees prepare together. Overall, since Jan. 26, seven refugees have had coaching sessions with 18 volunteers. The volunteers have had 39 one-on-one coaching sessions with refugees for a total of 66 hours,” Lartigue said.

“We are lucky to have so many volunteers from around the world willing to give up so much of their time to help refugees improve their English, get prepared for academic and employment opportunities and tell their stories.”

TNKR and Shin & Kim hosted the contest. The Korea Times and Korea Development Bank sponsored the event.

Visit facebook.com/TeachNorthKoreanRefugees for more information on TNKR.

Support the speech contest and other projects featuring TNKR activities: http://give.teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/en/how-to-help-north-koreans

, , , , ,

2017-02-26 On the 7th Day, TNKR still didn’t rest

We had an incredible speech contest yesterday! We should have taken the day off, but instead, we were back at the office today.

  1. Training session for the new TNKR curriculum
  2. Tutoring session
  3. Feedback sessions with refugees
  4. Storytelling by Michael Breen as part of the TNKR-Korea Times discussion.
  5. Nuclear-fire chicken fundraiser for TNKR!

Read more

Cherie Yang: That Woman, That Moment

Congratulations to Cherie Yang for winning TNKR’s 5th English speech contest! The theme of the contest: “THAT Moment: My escape from North Korea.” Cherie definitely got prepared to seize the moment!

  • From January 26 to February 21, she had twelve 1:1 coaching sessions with TNKR volunteers.
  • Those sessions totaled 1,260 minutes, that’s a total of 21 hours.
  • The seven contestants had a total of 34 coaching sessions (based on the number of reports sent by TNKR speech coach mentors), meaning an average of 4.9 sessions per refugee. Cherie was the outlier with a total of 12. (Plus, I’m very sure that one of her coaches did not report an additional session).
  • Of her 12 sessions, 11 were at the TNKR office. That means that she was able to practice in a quiet office with privacy without having to worry about patrons at a coffee shop listening in to her practice and discuss her speech with others. I’m not saying it was an issue in this case, but I have gotten feedback from refugees that the coaches and tutors are more focused when they study together at our office compared to coffee shops. Our office at the moment can only handle a few students at a time, but only one room is large enough for a refugee and coach to comfortably study together and for the refugee to stand up practicing the speech.
  • Her average coaching session was 105 minutes, which far exceeds the minimum requirement of 60 minutes for speech coaching.
  • This was her third speech contest, so clearly she wasn’t being handed anything!

 

Read more

, , ,

2016-02-19 Three and a half hours of coaching!

Last month we had 36 TNKR refugees and 56 tutors active in our humble project, based on tutor reports. It is easy to forget how much time volunteers give for tutors and coaching. We had an average of slightly more than 4 reports per month. With the speech contest being added, we are now averaging more than 5 reports being submitted per day.

This morning and afternoon, tutor/coach Laura Nguyen had a tutoring and coaching session that lasted 3 and a half hours. I left around 10:30 a.m. to join a discussion group, when I returned at 1:30, they were still studying together, then finally wrapped up around 2 pm.

Laura is a +1 volunteer. In addition to tutoring and coaching, she is recruiting friends to join, informing others, and even raising money for TNKR.

Yes, they are smiling in the photo… that’s after going through the 7 stages of grief, resisting, complaining, then finally resigning themselves to the reality. 🙂

I skipped out of the office to join an English language discussion group. They asked why I wanted to join, I said, “I don’t want to lose my English.”

I’ve had to impose a curfew on TNKR Assistant Academic Adviser Youngmin Kwon. A few nights ago, we were both working at the office until 3 a.m. From now, he is barred from working at TNKR past 10 pm. Now he is also volunteering on weekends, so I now must consider if he will be banned from volunteering on weekends. He has also set up a fundraiser for TNKR. http://give.teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/en/fundraisers/Stand-with-North-Korean-refugees

Read more

, , , ,

2017-02-17 Too busy to blog

I am always amazed when people say that I’m great at Facebook. I joined in 2012 and still feel like a newbie, one of those befuddled old people driving youngsters to Instagram. I only remember to check Facebook when I want to post about TNKR’s latest activities. The reason I didn’t join Facebook in the past: I am too busy living life to be hanging out on Facebook talking about it!

Read more

“North Korean-American” finds a new home

One of my favorite people in the whole world is Cherie Yang! Last week was so great because she was studying at the TNKR office almost every day! She is great in so many ways, although I do worry about her judgment. She publicly calls me her “angel.”

Read more

, , , , , ,

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.

Read more