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2017-04-13 Pushed out of our office

Yesterday was our first full day back at the TNKR office after the TNKR directors visited England for a week.

  • Tutoring sessions
  • Speech coaching
  • Visit to an event location
  • Planning meeting for Global Leadership Forum

It finally happened. We ran out of space, so the TNKR co-directors were pushed out of their own office.

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2017-03-24 Be Nice to Your Favorite NGO

Meeting #1: South Korean professional visiting from Hong Kong. He wanted to find ways he could help from Hong Kong.

Meeting #2: Feedback session with a North Korean refugee who arrived in South Korea in December 2015 and joined our program December 2016 after waiting for a few months.

I imagine that some of my peers who are involved in advocacy, abstract or analytical work about North Korea rarely or never have NK refugees seeking them out to thank them. Some of their work may be valuable, but it isn’t the type of work that leads to the people who benefit from what they are doing to praise them.

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2017-03-24 No Time for the News or clowns

  • I haven’t watched TV regularly in decades.
  • When I was a college student, I subscribed to the Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, read numerous magazines. These days, I barely pay attention to the news.
  • We have so much going on at TNKR, it is hard to keep track of our own activities building TNKR, so the latest killings, scandals, bombings, shootings, gossip, celebrity weddings, etc., just don’t interest me. Life is much more interesting building something rather than watching the chaos that interests news editors, TV producers, podcast hosts, and others in the chattering class.
  • When people ask me what I have been doing, I tell them, “Let me check my Facebook to see.”

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2017-03-18 “Don’t Make Me Fly!”

This morning we coached a refugee who is getting prepared to give her first public speech in English when TNKR presents at the 13th KOTESOL Seoul conference. She was an English teacher in North Korea, but she lacks confidence to give a speech in English. So this morning we gave her feedback on her speech.

Step 1, she wrote her speech in Korean. We like it so the speakers deliver their speeches with as much of the original flavor as possible.

Step 2, TNKR volunteer translator Lee Saria translated it into English.

Step 3, I edited it.

Step 4, Eunkoo Lee and I gave her feedback today. She felt encouraged after the session. Before, she had been worried that we might want to cancel after hearing her speak. We tried to make it as realistic as possible by having her stand up to give the speech. Today I convinced Eunkoo Lee that we should buy a mic stand so that speakers can practice without holding the microphone and their speech text. She felt like she was flying her confidence was soaring.

Step 5: I will record the speech so she can follow the intonation and also use correct Texas pronunciation.

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2017-03-17 Inspired by Eunhee

Eunhee Park visited the TNKR office yesterday for classes with tutors Debbie Roberts and Kaina Ortiz. It is amazing to see her speaking in English. She joined TNKR almost two years ago at a basic level, and now she is laughing and joking in English! Those of you who haven’t read my Korea Times column about her, please do so, to see how incredible her story is. You can also read it in her own words at her fundraiser for TNKR.

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2017-03-12 Hottest Seat in Town (TNKR Matching 54)

At our speech contest on Feb 25, we squeezed 130 people into a room fit for 80, with some attendees at the back of the room having to stand. Yesterday at our Matching session, we squeezed 31 people into a room fit for 20. That means that the late-comers had to sit on the floor yesterday.

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2017-03-08 Lovely Sharon visits TNKR

Lovely Sharon visited TNKR today to cheer us up. That may not have been her intention, but that’s what happens every time we see her! Lovely Sharon brought her lovely daughter.

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2017-03-07 “I have responsibility in TNKR”

One key principle for TNKR: Students in the program must take charge. We put the burden on them to choose their tutors, to choose an appropriate number, to negotiate and book appointments with them, to come to class prepared.

It is a wonderful moment when a refugee admits he or she struggled with that initially, but now loves it! The challenge is convincing tutors to let the refugees stumble through English until they find their way, rather than translating or trying to baby them.

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2017-02-27 Amazing Feedback about TNKR

iTNKR National Director Eunkoo Lee just wrapped up a fascinating feedback session with a refugee. This refugee is older than the other participants in our program, she has an adult son. Their escape story is amazing. She is now studying English for a specific reason related to her career. She is a basic level speaker who never had the courage to speak English before joining TNKR, even when she studied in hakwons.

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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!

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