, , ,

2017-08-18 ABC Interview with Eunhee Park

ABC News based in another country stopped by TNKR to do some interviews. They started off by focusing on North Korea, but after they learned more about Eunhee and TNKR, they shifted their questioning away from Kim Jong-Un, and instead about Eunhee and the wonderful things happening at TNKR.

PART 1: Interview with Eunhee

 

  Read more

, ,

2017-08-13 TNKR Matching 62, Track 2 special

Teach North Korean Refugees began in March 2013 by matching several North Korean refugees who had been teachers in North Korea with volunteer tutors to help them improve their English. Yesterday TNKR held its 62nd Language Matching session. More than 300 refugees have chosen more than 620 tutors and coaches to study with. Some of the refugees have gone on to win scholarships, fellowships, to get jobs, accepted into college, give speeches and media interviews around the world, and to write books.

TNKR began as a chance for refugees to study English, but in late 2014, we divided the program in half to help refugees who were looking to tell their stories. Yesterday we held a session with five NK refugees joining Track 2 for the first time. Three of them are already in Track 1, and now feel they are ready to start speaking out. We had 10 coaches (including two who are already in Track 1) join the session (two had to cancel because of health and family issues)

Read more

, , ,

2017-08-14 Best Rose visits TNKR

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

The Best Rose came to visit TNKR on Monday. It was a delightful couple of hours, getting an update about Eunhee’s latest adventures. She is enthusiastic and inspiring.

She is a North Korean refugee who talks about freedom without being prompted. She reminds everyone around her how wonderful it is to be free to make their own choices. North Koreans kidnapped at birth often have no idea what freedom is, people born in freedom often don’t appreciate how difficult it has been to get to this point in history where people are free to control their own destinies.

At one point she didn’t use her name or show her face because she was embarrassed about being from North Korea. Now she is a rose blossoming, learning more about the world. Wherever she goes, she stands out, people remember that she was there. She likes to give credit to TNKR for her metamorphosis. Hearing that warms our hearts every time, and reminds us how wonderful it has been to start and develop TNKR. 

Read more

, , ,

2017-08-09 Around the Office…

Comedian Chris Rock once said, ‘If you see a homeless  person with a funny sign, that means the person hasn’t been homeless for long.’

I mention that because Eunkoo Lee quit her paid job on February 1. Not many people voluntarily go for six months without getting paid! And not many keep smiles on their faces for long. Well, it isn’t all smiles around the office, TNKR has some challenges coming up.

Yes, it is baseball season, and Eunko is a baseball fanatic. So as long as those handsome guys are playing baseball then she may remain happy!

Perhaps we need to record the games, put them on her computer year-around so she can remain happy until she gets evicted from her home. 🙂

Eunkoo at the Bat.”

Support TNKR

Read more

, ,

2017-08-05 Stories from the North III

Thanks to Seoul University of Foreign Studies for co-hosting “Stories from the North III” with TNKR. It was a great opportunity to hear about North Korea from several different perspectives.

* NK refugee Ken Eom discussed his university life in North Korea.
* NK refugee Helen discussed her escape from North Korea.
* Researcher Hye-young Shin discussed lessons she has learned from doing research about NK refugees adjusting to living in South Korea.
* Hwang Cheol discussed his campaign to have his father released from North Korea.
* TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue Jr. discussed TNKR’s history and background connecting NK refugees with volunteer tutors and coaches.
* Tony Docan-Morgan did the introduction, making TNKR sound like it is a great organization!
* Youngmin Kwon did the behind-the-scenes things that make an event possible, even leading people from the subway.
* Christian Na recorded the event.
* Eunkoo Lee of TNKR and Prof. 임종령 of SUFS made it all happen! Plus we had 8 lovely volunteers from SUFS and an army of translators who made sure that everyone could understand in both English and Korean.

Read more

, ,

2017-08-02 TNKR on “Heart to Heart”

TNKR co-directors Eunkoo and Casey Lartigue were interviewed for an upcoming episode of Arirang TV’s “Heart to Heart.” Stay tuned, the show should be posted in about 2 weeks.

Read more

, ,

2017-07-27 TNKR at Sookmyung, another learning opportunity

Thanks to TNKR volunteer tutor, coach, Music Manager, fundraiser and donor Peter Daley for organizing a speech yesterday at Sookmyung Women’s University. A North Korean refugee who recently joined TNKR’s Track 2 program gave his first speech with us yesterday. He learned a lot! And that’s the point of our speaking program.

Back when I was a sports reporter, I would hear  athletes say that they learned more in their first game than in months of practice. At last, it was real. So most of their improvements came in the second game. The refugee who spoke yesterday said that he had learned so much from the experience. What I have noticed in previous coaching sessions and based on feedback from coaches is that refugees are much more focused in sessions after they have given speeches. As the old saying goes: “The threat of execution sharpens the mind.”

Eunkoo Lee often says that it is important for refugees to give talks like this. They get inspired knowing that people want to hear them. The refugee who spoke yesterday said exactly that after the speech. It was incredible looking at everyone around the room eagerly listening to him.

I had helped him get ready for the talk. Even that was a learning experience for him. Because it was a last-minute coaching session, I mainly focused on pronunciation, grammar and speech structure. I suspect that when he next meets his coaches that he will be more assertive in checking ways he can give a better speech.

Join us on August 5 for “Stories from the North III,” a joint forum hosted by Teach North Korean Refugees and Seoul University of Foreign Studies.

Read more

, , , ,

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

, , , ,

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…

***

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.

Read more