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2017-09-17 TNKR Matching 63

On Sunday, TNKR held a large Matching session with 10 refugeees, 17 volunteers tutors, and 7 volunteer staff members. 

Support TKNR: http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/donate/

Volunteer: http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/volunteer/

Breakdown Read more

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2017-09-13 Accepting book donations!

A fan dropped by to donate some books to TNKR. He refused to take photos, but he can see here that one of the refugees joining TNKR is very happy to have gotten a book in English! Yes, you can also donate books to TNKR, although we have limited space.

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TNKR on Cable TV

 

 

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2017-08-26 TNKR’s 6th English Speech Contest, “A Woman is a Flower: The Lives of North Korean Women.”

So many great stories, wonderful people, fantastic feelings at yesterday’s 6th TNKR English speech contest.

The theme of the contest: “A Woman is a Flower: The Lives of North Korean Women.”

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Random moments and observations from the contest:

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2017-08-17 Media, tutoring, coaching, visitors

Interview with an international reporter

Tutoring and Coaching

 

Mark Bendul: TNKR tutor, coach, donor, fundraiser and cheerleader!

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Youngmin Kwon: TNKR tutor, donor, fundraiser, Office Manager, Project Manager (Bring My Father Home)

Individual Study Plan

When refugees first join TNKR, we have an interview with them. TNKR National Director Eunkoo Lee starts with an individual that includes a scaled-down orientation. TNKR International Director Casey Lartigue then interviews them with the Individual Study Plan developed by Columbia University professor Bae YoungSeh.

Check my recent Korea Times column for more about this.

TNKR Visitors

We haven’t figured out how to work together yet, but Saerom is really an impressive young lady. She uses her brain, analyzes situations, then gives concrete suggestions.

These singers from the USA stopped by TNKR to learn a bit about what we are doing.

 

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2017-08-13 TNKR Matching 62, Track 2 special

Teach North Korean Refugees began in March 2013 by matching several North Korean refugees who had been teachers in North Korea with volunteer tutors to help them improve their English. Yesterday TNKR held its 62nd Language Matching session. More than 300 refugees have chosen more than 620 tutors and coaches to study with. Some of the refugees have gone on to win scholarships, fellowships, to get jobs, accepted into college, give speeches and media interviews around the world, and to write books.

TNKR began as a chance for refugees to study English, but in late 2014, we divided the program in half to help refugees who were looking to tell their stories. Yesterday we held a session with five NK refugees joining Track 2 for the first time. Three of them are already in Track 1, and now feel they are ready to start speaking out. We had 10 coaches (including two who are already in Track 1) join the session (two had to cancel because of health and family issues)

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2017-08-14 Best Rose visits TNKR

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

The Best Rose came to visit TNKR on Monday. It was a delightful couple of hours, getting an update about Eunhee’s latest adventures. She is enthusiastic and inspiring.

She is a North Korean refugee who talks about freedom without being prompted. She reminds everyone around her how wonderful it is to be free to make their own choices. North Koreans kidnapped at birth often have no idea what freedom is, people born in freedom often don’t appreciate how difficult it has been to get to this point in history where people are free to control their own destinies.

At one point she didn’t use her name or show her face because she was embarrassed about being from North Korea. Now she is a rose blossoming, learning more about the world. Wherever she goes, she stands out, people remember that she was there. She likes to give credit to TNKR for her metamorphosis. Hearing that warms our hearts every time, and reminds us how wonderful it has been to start and develop TNKR. 

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2017-07-16 Prep for “Not Just Otto”

Hwang In-Cheol will be one of the speakers at TNKR’s Global Leadership Forum “Not Just Otto” on July 29, 2016. He is the son of Hwang Won, a South Korean who was kidnapped to North Korea when a North Korean agent hijacked a Korean Air plane in December 1969. Today he met with Youngmin Kwon, Project Manager of Bring My Father Home, and Jeannie Chung, a TNKR editor. Mr. Hwang has had a team helping him get ready for this speech–Youngmin with the translation, Jeannie editing the speech, and Anna Martinson and Jeannie reading the speech so he can follow the pronunciation.

RSVP here, TNKR volunteers and donors can bring 1 guest for free.

Support a TNKR project

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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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TNKR presentation to Australian students

Two TNKR Ambassadors and TNKR co-founders Eunkoo Lee and Casey Lartigue spoke to a group of MBA students visiting from Australia. Here’s our group photo after the session.

Some venues have standing room only. Ours included sitting on the floor and standing. My math isn’t great, but 20 chairs, 24 visitors, 6 volunteers=not everyone will get a chair.

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TNKR Special Ambassador Cherie Yang was the winner of our fifth English speech contest, so now expectations are higher every time she speaks. And she meets the challenge!

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Eunhee has gone from being anonymous to a regular speaker with great confidence.

The students had many thoughtful questions and said they learned a lot.

 

We had a full house!

TV stations often have a “Green room” where guests wait for their chance to go on the show. The TNKR green room is a study/storage/waiting room.

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Standing with TNKR

Over the past few years, we have had almost 600 volunteer tutors and coaches volunteer with TNKR. An important thing for us is having volunteers commit to us long-term. Last year Youngmin Kwon joined us as a full-time volunteer, taking on various roles (assistant academic adviser, project manager of the Bring My Father Home project, translator, office manager). More recently, Dave Fry has joined us as Assistant Director of Publicity and Professor Tony Docan-Morgan has joined TNKR as a Senior Fellow of Communication and Advocacy. The Professor evaluates speeches by TNKR ambassadors and speakers and gives them specific feedback. He has been teaching communications for 15 years, he is so good that I have been recruiting him to become my speech coach. He has conducted three 1:1 feedback session for refugees who participated in our speech contest in February. We want the speech contest to be a learning opportunity in addition to the other benefits.

The Professor going line by line with Cherie Yang over her prize-winning speech.

Feedback session 2 with another refugee who has competed in TNKR speech contests. After the session, he declared, “I learned so much, I think I can win next time!”

Speech feedback session 3: She said aspects of public speaking that she had never considered, that she will be able to use the techniques in her classes. She doesn’t show her face, but she said she has gained confidence in giving a public speech even though her English isn’t that strong.

 

TNKR discussion about our upcoming brainstorming session. Anna Martinson (seated) and Dave Fry (arms folded) will be leading the session. Spencer has joined TNKR as a fundraising intern and Chansook is a South Korean fan of TNKR who dropped by to volunteer for a few hours.

 

TNKR Assistant Director Dave Fry is a tutor, fundraiser, donor, motivator and office comedian who is helping us develop long-term strategy.

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One of the important developments about TNKR is that refugees in the program have been standing by our side. The ultimate test of a program is: Do the people who are benefiting from the program have a connection to what you are doing? Are they willing to stand by your side?

TNKR Special Ambassador Cherie Yang has taken on a leadership role within TNKR. She is always ready to help, even shooting a promotional video for TNKR.

Joseph is one of the first refugees I met years ago. He brings us gifts and could eventually partner with us on a business project.

Support my fundraiser for TNKR

 

 

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[May 16, 2017] (TNKR) In-house Tutoring journal by Youngmin Kwon

[May 16, 2017] (TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees In-house Tutoring

Youngmin Kwon, TNKR Assistant Academic Adviser, wrote: Had a great but challenging tutoring session with one of my new students! Her English level is still very basic, so I had to remain patient as she struggled to understand one sentence / expression / vocabulary after another. (* We are not allowed to use Korean. ^^)

As someone who did not join TNKR as a tutor, I am constantly amazed by how fulfilling each of these sessions can be. I have spoken out in support of the human rights of North Korean refugees before, but it was only after joining TNKR that I was able to form such close, personal, and direct bonds with my North Korean brothers and sisters. I cannot help all of them, but hopefully I am adding some real value to my students’ ongoing journey to find freedom and empowerment.

* Please consider donating!

#TNKR #Volunteering #WithRefugees

Tribute from Eben Appleton, TNKR Outreach Coordinator:

Youngmin, from one who rarely writes tributes, I must write one to you. First of all, I have always been aware of your dedication to Human Rights issues, particularly when it addresses the NK refugees. I have watched your dedication to the Freedom of Choice offered by you and the TNKR staff. Your patience in teaching does not surprise me. I realize you speak perfect English & perfect Korean. And I particularly appreciate the help you have given me with “automatic translations”. This feat is even more difficult than teaching English. I know that you are greatly appreciated by all, particularly by me.

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2017-05-14 “A Woman is a Flower” TNKR Global Leadership Forum 2

TNKR held its second Global Leadership Forum on Sunday May 14, featuring speakers discussing the lives of North Korean women. The event was co-sponsored by the Working Group on North Korean Women.

Lee So-yeon kicked off the forum by discussing the brutality that she and other North Korean women suffered in the military, such as being raped by military leaders. It was another reminder about a brutal regime that does not respect the rights of individuals.

Eunsun Kim, author of A Thousand Miles to Freedom, then discussed her escape from North Korea. Many of the attendees began crying when she discussed the conversations she had with her mother when they thought they might starve to death.

Lee Juseong, author of Sunhee, wrapped up the forum by discussing specific statistics related to North Korean women and calling on the South Korean government to do more to rescue North Korean refugee women from China.

TNKR Speech Fellow Tony Docan-Morgan kicked off the event, TNKR co-directors Eunkoo Lee and Casey Lartigue briefly introduced TNKR, then after the speakers and Q&A, TNKR Assistant Director Dave Fry issued a call to action.

The room fit about 60, and we had about 70 or so in attendance, with a few latecomers having to stand.

 

 

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