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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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2017-06-27 American high schoolers visit TNKR

Support TNKR

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Some American high school students visiting South Korea stopped by TNKR to hear speeches from two TNKR Special Ambassadors. As co-founder of TNKR, it was another beautiful moment, seeing two speakers who came to us in 2015 blossoming the way they have.

  • One if now a graduate student, the other is an undergraduate.
  • They both have improved their English a lot.
  • They have both improved their ability to make speeches. Practicing many times and working with many tutors and coaches has definitely helped them improve.
  • And they thank us TNKR so many times for the impact that it has had on their lives. Not only do they say this when they are with us, but I have heard from others that they praise us.
  • They both even raise money for TNKR! Thank you Ken Eom and Eunhee Park.
  • The students said they learned so much. It is really a great opportunity for them to learn directly from North Korean refugees the reality of that country and the challenges that refugees have when they make it to South Korea.
  • TNKR will continue making a difference in the lives of refugees and volunteers who join us.

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2017-06-18 Noblish speech #3

Winston Churchill supposedly said: “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” That is definitely true with me.

I was one of the featured speakers at a Noblish event. The start-up organization was founded by Sunny Eunhwa Kim. Sunny is an energetic and lovely lady, she is so busy that she makes me feel like I am sitting at my desk all of the time. Roger Fusselman was the other featured speaker, he gave a great talk about creativity. He is a skilled speaker, so I was able to give the audience advice about making great presentations based on his.

My topic was “Making Effective English Presentations.” Of course, I also talked about TNKR.

Two of the South Koreans at the event pledged to make small donations to TNKR. Another lady called me an angel, which of course I disputed.

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2017-06-15 TV podcast, TNKR presentation

Yesterday began with TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue being interviewed for a new TV podcast.

In the afternoon, two TNKR refugees gave speeches to a group of high school students visiting from the USA.

And around all of that, tutoring sessions for refugees, Eunkoo Lee having feedback sessions with refugees to get an understanding about their experience in TNKR.

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2017-06-12 Harvard Global Networking Night

Brag, brag, brag, that’s what people were doing at last night’s Harvard Global Networking Night. It was great, we were able to tell some influential people about (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees. Best of all, some of them were already familiar with TNKR!

TNKR co-directors took a break from work to join Harvard Global Networking Night. It is great to join networking events where people are expected to talk about their activities. So I shamelessly introduced TNKR! I often encounter people who are afraid that others are bragging or having a good time, so it is was fun meeting with people who want to hear about what others are doing and also want to inform you about what they are doing.

It was delightful when we met some influential people who said they were already aware of our important activities.

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2017-05-18 TNKR presentation to Australian students

Thursday was one of those days we could really appreciate how much TNKR has grown. With very little money, we have created an NGO that provides practical learning opportunities for refugees and has gained respected internationally.

We have had more than 570 volunteer tutors, but just a handful have committed to us long-term. Of the 270 refugees who have joined us, the same is true, just a handful have stuck to us. Having people around us has taken a lot of pressure off us. And now a new thing is happening–we are no longer at the center of every activity.

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2017-03-25 “Hello, Konglish!” Hello, Jinhee Han!

The “steak” of Teach North Korean Refugees is our English tutoring project. The “sizzle” is when refugees in our public speaking project give public speeches. Yesterday, before a crowded room at Seoul KOTESOL, North Korean refugee Jinhee Han gave her first public speech in English. She was amazing, the crowd was really interested: She was an English teacher in North Korea before she escaped to South Korea.

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2017-02-21 Leaving the TNKR cave to meet the Mayor of Mapo-gu

A great thing about having an office? You have a place to invite guests to.

A bad thing about having an office? You don’t want to go out to meet other people.

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2017-01-16 TNKR presentation (Asia Leadership Trek)

TNKR joined the Asia Leadership Trek during its three week tour across Asia. Members of the Trek are students at the Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Medical School, Tufts Fletcher School.

Event 1:

* TNKR co-founder Casey Lartigue kicked off the event by introducing TNKR’s history and mission.

* TNKR Special Ambassador Ken Eom gave a new speech this morning about his adjustment to South Korea.

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2016-12-07 Listening

I had an interesting conversation last night with two graduate school students who are majoring in counseling.

We had a good feeling from the beginning because they had already seen the tvN special about TNKR. They already felt at home as soon as they walked in. They are including NK refugees in their research, so they wanted to talk with TNKR’s co-founders.

They got me to discuss a few things I don’t publicly discuss about TNKR.

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They saw the tvN special, so they weren’t surprised when it was photo time!

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