Teach North Korean Refugees began as “English Matching” in March 2013. We didn’t have long term plans, but yesterday we held our 71st Language Matching session. We had 11 refugees and 19 tutors join the session, meaning we have now had 345 refugees and 744 volunteer tutors and coaches participate. This little “hobby” has grown into a leading organization providing practical support for refugees adjusting to living outside North Korea and building skills.

Session #71 set a number of records:

  • Early early bird registration! 1:15 a.m. signup. Yes, a refugee showed up 13 hours in advance to register.  The second refugee yesterday arrived at 9:35 a.m. He said that he had arrived in the area at 9 a.m., but didn’t believe that anyone would arrive that early so he waited before knocking on the door. Imagine his shock when I told him he was second.
  • His own faculty: One of the refugees chose 9 tutors. Yes, 9 tutors! There were 19 tutors in the room, so he selected 47.4% of them. Whereas universities and schools have ratios of 1 faculty member to 15 to 30 students, TNKR has a student-tutor ratio in the favor of students. In the case of that student, it is a 9 teacher to 1 student ratio! So he has own English teacher faculty. He called TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee to let her know that he still couldn’t imagine what we meant by refugees choosing, but after going through the session, he can’t believe TNKR isn’t the most famous refugee support organization in the world. He has been with other NK refugee support organizations, he said the others can’t compare to us.
  • Distance: Tutors are coming from all over Korea to tutor, including one tutor who has pledged to come to Seoul from Busan twice a month to tutor with us. That is more than 200 miles (325 KMs).
  • Fundraising: Of the 19 tutors at the session, 10 had set up fundraisers before joining the session. Seven more became monthly donors before joining the session. Only two of the 19 tutors neither became monthly donors nor set up fundraisers. Usually it is the opposite, that we have ony a handful of tutors helping us build the organization. I told them that we have never had a group show so much enthusiasm and energy.

***

Support TNKR Read more

TNKR at the Asia Liberty Forum
February 10-11, 2018
at Jakarta, Indonesia

  • TNKR was honored as a Asia Liberty Award Finalist on February 11, 2018, at the 2018 Asia Liberty Forum.
  • TNKR Ambassador Eunhee Park delivered a meaningful and thoughtful Cornerstone speech on February 10.
  • TNKR Co-Founder Casey Lartigue introduced TNKR’s main activities during a luncheon.

Read more

2018-02-13 경기일보 (Gyeonggi Newspaper)

2018-02-14 United Press International

 

 

 

Los Angeles Times front page article: Koreas’ unified women’s hockey team has exposed a key difference between South and North — their language

Some immigrants from the North — who risk their lives to leave — face difficulty and discrimination in the South because they lack vocabulary or use differing dialects and accents. Others struggle with cultural assimilation that’s related to language, such as not understanding jokes or an unfamiliarity with pop culture references, said Lee Eunkoo, who co-founded an organization that helps defectors.

“One of the refugees we taught had the experience of being fired from her job at a bakery because she didn’t know the exact bread names, such as ‘baguette,’ ” said Lee, whose group is called Teach North Korean Refugees.

Three-quarters of the North Koreans said official terms in the South — like those for government, banking and medical interactions — were confusing.

“In the North, we try to use Korean in education and sports, whereas here they tend to just use the terms as they are,” said Ken Eom, a North Korean who defected to Seoul eight years ago.

LA Times Front Page_4 Feb (PDF)

LA Times page 4, mentions TNKR (PDF)

 

 

 

TNKR Reading_Resource List, 2018-02

***

TNKR Book Club: Study Guides by Dr. Tony Docan-Morgan

March Book Club Discussion of Yeonmi Park’s In Order to LIve 

January 20 Book Club Discussion of Sungju Lee’s Every Falling Star

 

Dünyayı kurtaramazsın – işte yapabileceğimiz şey bu | Casey Lartigue Jr & Eunkoo Lee | TEDxDongdaemun

 ““>You Can’t Save the World

Eunkoo: Ben. Yanılmışım. Çoğu insan yanıldıklarını itiraf etmeyi sevmez, ama ben şahsen rahatsız olmadım çünkü bu durum bana seçimin güzelliğini gösterdi. Ne hakkında yanıldığımı açıklamadan önce, düşüncelerimi değiştiren birçok referanstan birini paylaşmak istiyorum.

Son dört yıldır birlikte çalıştığımız 300 tane Kuzey Koreli mültecilerden biri olan Eunhee Park şunları söyledi: ”Hayatım TNKR sayesinde çok değişti, TNKR bana yepyeni bir dünya açtı. Eskiden insanlara Kuzey Koreli olduğumu söylemekten utanıyordum, ama artık yüzümü ya da adımı saklamamaya yetecek kadar özgüvenim var. Casey ve Eunkoo’ya güven kazanmama yardımcı oldukları için her gün müteşekkirim.”

Bu güzel bir referans. Peki bu nasıl oldu?

Casey: Bugün dünyamızda büyük bir sorun, bu kadar çok insan dünyayı kurtarmak istiyor, ancak bulundukları yerde pratik bir şey yapmıyorlar. Onların çoğu her sabah dünya üzerinde Cennet yaratmak için koşarken, kendi ön bahçelerinde çöplerin üzerinde geziyorlar. Hepimizi kurtarmak için ulusal yada küresel planları olan insanlarla karşılaştığımda şunu soruyorum: “Tüm dünyayı veya dünyadaki tüm okul sistemini değiştirmeye başlamadan önce geri kalan biz, ölümlülere göstermek üzere en azından bir okul, program ya da gösteri projesi ayarlayabilir misiniz? ” Küresel düşün yerel davran eski bir deyiştir ve hala bugün geçerlidir. Read more

No se puede salvar el mundo—esto es lo que podemos hacer

Casey Lartigue Jr. y Eunkoo Lee

Eunkoo: Yo estaba equivocada. A la mayoría de la gente no le gusta admitir cuando están equivocados, pero a mí no me importaba porque en este caso, me mostró el futuro del escogimiento. Antes de que explique en qué me equivoqué, quiero compartir uno de los muchos testimonios que cambiaron mi pensamiento. Eunhee Park, uno de los 300 refugiados norcoreanos con los que hemos trabajado en los últimos años, dijo: “Mi vida cambió por TNKR. Me abrió un mundo completamente nuevo. Solía estar avergonzada de decirle a la gente que soy de Corea del Norte. Pero ahora, tengo la confianza para no esconder mi cara o mi nombre. Cada día, agradezco a Casey y Eunkoo por ayudarme a ganar confianza en mí mismo.” Esto es un testimonio hermoso. ¿Entonces, cómo sucedió esto?

Casey: Un gran problema de nuestro mundo actual es que tanta gente quiere salvar el mundo pero no hacen nada práctico donde se encuentran. Muchos de ellos se tropiezan con la basura en sus propios patios para crear un paraíso en la Tierra. Hay muchas ideas para difundir, pero salvar el mundo no es una. Cuando encuentro a gente con planes nacionales o globales para salvarnos, le pregunto: “¿Antes que tratar de cambiar un sistema escolar o el mundo, podrías por lo menos establecer una escuela, una programa, o un proyecto demostrativo para mostrar al resto de nosotros, los mortales, cómo se hace?”

“Piensa globalmente, actúa localmente” es un viejo dicho que todavía se aplica hoy. Read more

S. KOREAN NON-PROFIT PROVIDING “FREE ENGLISH LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR N. KOREAN REFUGEES,” AWAITS 501C(3) STATUS IN THE U.S.

A Seoul-based non-profit providing free English learning opportunities for North Korean refugees is gaining a lot of attention. Founded in 2013, the Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center (TNKR) has provided its services to over 320 North Korean refugee students. Kim Hyun-jin reports from Seoul.

The Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center (TNKR), located in a small corner of Seoul’s Mapo area. In a humble room of 15 pyeong, a North Korean woman in her 40s is studying English one-on-one with an American volunteer tutor.

She is still at the level of learning numbers in English, but she carefully listens to her tutor’s explanations and does her best to follow.

Founded in March 2013, TNKR, as its name suggests, has taught English to over 320 North Korean refugees.

Hear from Casey Lartigue, the co-founder of the organization: Read more

Eben Appleton wrote: It was a special night for Teach North Korean Refugees, TNKR, when TNKR fans Sandra Durnick and Amanda Sheffy hosted a fundraiser for the all-volunteer group at the Hidden Cellar located in Seoul, Korea.

That’s what happens when a community rallies around a group and supports their humble project of helping North Korean refugees by teaching them English.

TNKR depends solely on fundraisers in order to continue their English teaching program. How much was donated? Over 1 million won! An additional amount of 340,000 won, was won in a final raffle by TNKR Academic Coordinator, Janice Kim. After winning, she immediately donated the money to the fundraiser. TNKR Co-founder, Casey Lartigue Jr., pulled the final raffle ticket and was pleasantly surprised by her donation. Thank you Janice Kim!

Director Lartigue felt he should have said more about TNKR during the party fundraiser, but instead spent the entire evening appreciatively thanking those many who were in attendance.

Personally, I wish I had been there to see the excitement of my many friends at TNKR. I realize the fundraiser will help them to sustain their amazing organization for another year.

Tomorrow will be a busy, back to the old grind, kind of day at the office. I am certain those at TNKR are still “walking on air” from the night before.

Congratulations, dear friends, and thanks to all supporters who know a good thing when they see it.

One of TNKR’s underlying goals is to build a community of support around North Korean refugees. We do this by connecting them with volunteer tutors and coaches.

What happens when a community rallies around TNKR? That’s what it felt like at the Hidden Cellar when TNKR fans Sandra Durinick and Amanda Sheffy hosted a fundraiser for us last night. They rounded up a team that included Samantha Murphy, Kim Noriko Durinick, Jamila Charles, Reza Carr, Jay Wiltz, Hannah Ruppert, Renee Dupuis, Tom Moran, Jamie Kembrey, 송인환 and Hyeona Hong. (Thanks to Kim Noriko Durinick for adding the names.)

I should have said more about TNKR, but my entire speech was thanking everyone. TNKR volunteers, our new fans, everyone rallying around our humble project helping North Korean refugees.

It was a special night in TNKR history, one that we will never forget. In all, the team raised more than 1 million won. It was our special night, because we won an additional 340,000 won in a final raffle—I pulled the number of TNKR Academic Coordinator Janice Kim. She promptly donated the money—I can’t promise that I would have donated it if I had pulled my own number!

Today we were back to the grindstone, holding two orientation sessions for incoming tutors and students. It was tough, doing this on a Sunday, after working at TNKR for every day so far this year. But we were all walking on air after last night’s wonderful fundraiser.