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On December 8 in Seoul, five women from four different countries delivered speeches at TEDxDongdaemunWomen. They were understandably nervous: They are all second or third language speakers of English. None of them are professional speakers, so this was a diversion from their daily lives.

  • It was a beautiful scene. Numerous TNKR volunteers were on hand to support a TNKR student giving her first TEDx speech.
  • TNKR collaborating with a TEDx organizer to put together an event.
  • The TNKR co-founder being asked to be the MC of a TEDx event.

So how did it all come together?

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TNKR hosted a Book Club discussion with NK refugee author and poet Hyeon-A Ji on December 9 at the TNKR office. Our office was full with an audience of people from around the world.

The English version of her book “Million Miles to Freedom” is scheduled to be released in 2019.

Youngmin Kwon was the interpreter for the night

Speech and discussion

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Friday was a busy day!

* TNKR Senior Fellow Tony Docan-Morgan held 1:1 feedback sessions with coaches in Track 2 (public speaking).

* TNKR Ambassador Eunhee Park gave a fantastic talk at a private event at our office.

Support TNKR 

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Today’s Eben’s Notes summarizes the TEDx Talk by TNKR co-founders Casey Lartigue and Eunkoo Lee!

People want to save the world. You can’t save the world, but here is what we can do. Don’t be an observer. Take your thoughts to the public. Save the world by finding a cause. “Finding a cause is like joining the Mafia, it is easier to get in than to get out”. Before you try to change the world, act locally. These are the words of Casey Lartigue Jr., a black man from Missouri City, Texas, who traveled 7000 miles to Seoul, Korea after leaving a distinguished career in Washington, D.C..

In D.C. as a Think Tank Analyst with the Cato Institute, and a Master’s Degree from Harvard Univ. in Education, he joined a coalition to help develop the School Choice Program there. This voucher program allows underprivileged children the freedom of choice by giving them the opportunity to choose their own schools. In so doing he observed the empowerment felt by the parents of these children when given the freedom of choice in this situation.

After years of dealing with the political bureaucracy and the “Cocktail Party” thinking in D.C. he took a “road less traveled” to Seoul and eventually met Eunkoo Lee, in 2012. A shy South Korean woman from a small town on the border of North Korea. She was a researcher in Human Rights for NK people, with a Master’s Degree. She decided to join forces with Lartigue in March of 2013 to combine their passions for freedom of choice and opportunity by co-founding TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees), an English teaching program for NK refugees.

Eunkoo felt that the refugees were passive due to the oppression they experienced under the Kim Regime.

The following TEDx presentation outlines the sought after teaching program, disagreements between the co-founders regarding the passive nature of the refugees, and Lee having to admit that by being given the freedom of choice, the refugees became empowered by the ability to choose their own tutors. There are many moments of amusing comments such as when one refugee contacted Director Lartigue directly and eagerly asked him, “English, teach me?”. Obviously, she was no longer passive. There are 70 refugees on the TNKR waiting list at the moment. TNKR doesn’t find the refugees, they find TNKR, says Lartigue. Even with their limited funds as an all-volunteer group, their passion for helping the refugees keeps them going.