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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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2017-06-15 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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2017-03-18 “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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2017-03-16 Not everyone at McDonalds cooks hamburgers…

Something I hear very often: “Teach North Korean Refugees means that only teachers can volunteer at TNKR, right?” Another version: “But I’m not a teacher. Can I volunteer?” They are usually surprised to learn they can do things other than tutoring. As I often say in speeches: “Not everyone at KFC kills chickens. There are drivers, accountants, marketing specialists, salesmen, many other positions.”

Join us for TNKR’s Open House on April 1 to learn about many ways you can get involved.

Such as:

Tony is a professor in the USA teaching speech and communication. He has volunteered to analyze the speeches of refugees. He was at TNKR today for more than 7 hours, spending quite a bit of it analyzing the speeches from TNKR’s English speech contest. So much detail, I have already ordered him to avoid critiquing my speeches. As I told him: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

By the way, if you would like some nice Korean stickers, Tony will send them to you, if you donate at least 10,000 won to TNKR.

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2017-03-15 TNKR presentation to American high school students

Four TNKR Ambassadors presented last night to a group of high school students visiting from the USA. The students had earlier gone on the DMZ trek, then wrapped up the day by talking with refugees in TNKR.

We had a great time, the students asked many questions and were deeply engaged.

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2017-02-17 Too busy to blog

I am always amazed when people say that I’m great at Facebook. I joined in 2012 and still feel like a newbie, one of those befuddled old people driving youngsters to Instagram. I only remember to check Facebook when I want to post about TNKR’s latest activities. The reason I didn’t join Facebook in the past: I am too busy living life to be hanging out on Facebook talking about it!

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2016-12-02 TNKR–US military (“What a beautiful morning”)

This morning Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) had an event at a US military base in Suwon (Korea). It was organized by TNKR coach Matthew McGowan. He came up with the idea then he made it happen! I invite all volunteers (tutors, coaches, staff) to organize events. Most people don’t do it, they wait for others. Matthew did it, and it was WONDERFUL! As one of the refugees wrote, “It was a beautiful morning.”

TNKR has two main paths for refugees to choose.

  • Track 1 is for English study. We try to block tutors who are interested in socializing with refugees or trying to get into their personal lives. We are trying to create a safe zone for refugees to study without having tutors probe them about North Korea.
  • Track 2, on the other hand, is where it is appropriate to help refugees tell their stories. We encourage speech coaches to also set up events at which refugees can give speeches. We still ask coaches to be respectful, not to probe refugees out of their curiosity. Instead, try to help refugees get prepared for public speaking.

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