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2017-07-02 TNKR Matching: “When can I start?”

TNKR called an Emergency Matching session because we were getting so many requests from refugees. We decided to try to squeeze in another session before our regularly scheduled July 15 Orientation/July 22 Matching session. On such short notice, would we be able to recruit enough tutors?

Yes! Over the weekend, we had 2 orientations with refugees, 1 with tutors, an Open House with volunteers, and a fantastic Language Matching session yesterday. Below are some of my notes.

Participants at TNKR’s 60th Language Matching session:
6 refugees, 10 tutors.

When did refugees arrive in South Korea?
2008 (1)
2009 (1)
2013 (2)
2015 (2)

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2017-07-01 Emergency English? Hallelujah!

Years before TNKR, I was on the Young Executive Board of the Washington Scholarship Fund, we provided scholarships for low-income children in Washington, D.C.

One of the moments we all looked forwarded to was calling the families to inform them that a child had been awarded a scholarship. The responses were usually screams and shouts of “Hallelujah,” “Praise the Lord” and expletives of joy.

They couldn’t believe they had won a scholarship. Many of them would tell us that they had never won anything. They believed or hoped this would give their children the chance to go to a good school. We later converted the program from a privately funded to a publicly funded program when our lobbying led the US Congress to create the Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Washington parents interested in school vouchers attend an orientation meeting at the DC Convention Center to fill out applications. Pictured, Juanda Benjamin (cq), center, gives her daughter DaQuanda, 9, a kiss as they listen to their options with other hopeful parents. This was after we converted the program from a privately funded to a publicly funded program. Photo credit: Washington Post

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2017-06-25 Speech Coach Orientation & Open House

Today is the 67th anniversary of the Korean War starting. We marked the occasion at TNKR by holding two planning sessions to help TNKR become more effective at helping North Korean refugees.

  • At 2 pm, we held a Speech Coach orientation for coaches who will be helping refugees entering TNKR’s 6th English speech contest. Tomorrow I should be holding one or two more orientation sessions for applicants who couldn’t make it today. If they all get their applications completed then we can start matching them together.
  • At 3:30 pm, we held an Open House session to discuss ways for applicants to get more involved with TNKR. It was one of our most productive sessions. If just half of the participants follow through then you can expect some big changes within TNKR!

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2017-03-04/06 All Quiet at TNKR… Except for the Baby Invasion…

It was kind of a slow weekend for us, just one tutoring session, one meeting with a documentary team, one mini-orientation… it was so quiet… except when Eunkoo’s sisters visited with their children. 🙂

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Orientation week: Like Herding Cats

To make sure we had enough coaches for the upcoming speech contest, I held a number of orientation sessions. Some were small groups, some were 1:1.

I used to call myself a lazy guy, but looking at the TNKR Website, it seems that I somehow made a mistake and have been very busy.

Peter Daley, who has been with TNKR on-and-off since September 2014. So our orientation session was more of a reflection on TNKR rather than an orientation.

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Emergency Orientation Week

I held several emergency orientation sessions this week to get prepared for this Saturday’s Matching session. Holding group sessions is more efficient, but I prefer meeting with people individually or in small groups.

This duo cried twice during orientation–once when I told a story about one of the current refugees in the program, and again when they learned that I used to collaborate with Yeonmi Park. Read more

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2017-01-07 Tutors rising to the challenge!

We had a great orientation session on Saturday with a new batch of tutors and coaches. I think some people are used to so many people coming out to volunteer, but in my case, I am always amazed. So when I give the “don’t do this, don’t do that” part of my orientation, I feel like a father telling his son, right before a whipping, “This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you.”

Although, when my dad said that, I would suggest that he put the belt down, we go outside and play catch, and reflect on life instead.

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2017-01-07 “I cannot have this opportunity anywhere else”

We had an orientation with refugees entering TNKR’s 52nd Language Course. Wow, it was a special session! So much love for TNKR, they can’t wait to meet the volunteer tutors. Read more