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2020-02-09 TNKR in February, so far...

Item 1: February is the shortest month of the year--but with all of our activity this month, it seems to have already been three months this month. To make matters worse, this is Leap Year, so the shortest month will have an extra day!

Item 2: It happened again! One of the most common questions we get from people outside of TNKR: How do you find the refugees who join TNKR?

A larger organization with a really huge budget but few programs asked us: How do you keep the refugees involved? That other organization gives the refugees grants or scholarships to keep them involved. Sometimes they even recognize some of the dropouts from their program happily studying and participating in TNKR. 

What's our secret? We do great work!!! And a lot of it!


We have now started our most important project: Employment and Education Opportunities for North Korean refugees. We have had it on our mind for a few years, and finally have been able to launch it with a pilot project.

TNKR's co-founders have been trying to get out of the office to let people and organizations know about what we are doing. Some students will finish ahead of schedule, but we hope by the time we finish the first phrase of the project that we will be connecting with employment, fellowship and scholarship opportunities for the first cohort. Of course, this would be a lot easier if we didn't have to monitor the mentors, but few projects run on automatic pilot, so we will continue operating as co-founders, co-directors, and co-managers!

I won't show the photos of the students in this project yet, I will let them announce it themselves that they have joined. But in addition to the external meetings, we also 10 different separate meetings (not pictured) with mentors and mentees to get the project started well.



Not to confuse people, but we have separate mentoring going on. As I mentioned last year, 2020 would be TNKR's Year of Mentoring.

We have been meeting some refugees who are NOT in Track 3 but are getting prepared for opportunities. I am delighted they asked me to mentor them. Best of all, they remind me about meeting with them sometimes!


TNKR Study Rooms, one day...

It is pleasant when students come to our office to study and prepare for opportunities. One day, our office will be large enough that we can have one or two rooms devoted to that, rather than just only when our larger room is available.

We have many students who would like to study at our office. It is cheaper than a cafe or study room, plus we get to talk to them, get updates about their activities, goals and progress, and they feel closer and more connected with TNKR.



One day, we will have TNKR Tower! In addition to students being able to study English, practice speeches, they will also be able to study with their tutors at our office! 

Kimberly Goldsmith, a TNKR tutor and monthly donor, often comes to our office to tutor. I will be highlighting her comments in my next email.

A new student who recently joined TNKR had her first session. Whereas some students stop talking when I come into the room, she and the tutor welcomed me. The student then gave me a big smile, exclaiming about her class, "I LOVE IT!"



Volunteers who visit usually usually do so for tutoring or for official activities with TNKR. I am delighted when volunteers want to drop by to chat!

Unfortunately, in many cases, it is when they are about to leave the country.

Our next tutor recruitment session will be February 22-23 weekend (attend either on Saturday or Sunday). Apply here:

Refugee visitors to the office

It is great when the students in TNKR come to visit us, for various reasons.

Chanyang lovingly called me a "Yankee bastard" in a radio discussion, so I won't mind her making fun of me during photos. :-)


Carol just joined TNKR as a volunteer. She interviewed the co-founders for a podcast.

Chanyang interviewed us for her YouTube channel!

TV Interview

They also got footage for a possible future broadcast


Minhee was invited to speak before a tourism group Saturday morning!

Eunkoo and I joined her, before having a few meetings at the office later in the day.

Those smaller sessions are great practice for our public events. TNKR will be having a public forum on Feb 16, RSVP at

Will she quit?

India Meyers joined TNKR's Academic Team as our Assistant Academic Advisor. She seemed to enjoy the week! But will she return this week? She worked both Sundays and 1 Saturday since joining 9 days ago, in addition to her scheduled three days a week.

It helps that she has been a volunteer tutor with TNKR before joining our staff. Whereas some new staffers are baffled, waiting to be told what to do, she jumped right in! She is even tutoring one of the students in TNKR and certainly is ready for even more.

In particular, she is helping with our new Track 3 project, but will also be collaborating with TNKR Academic Coordinator Janice Kim and Track 1 Volunteer Adviser Dan Cashmar.

But if you ended up working six days the first week, when you expected three? We made it clear that she didn't have to join all of the Track 3 meetings over the weekends--but she ended up joining nine of the 10.

Eunkoo and I have worked every day since... when did we return from abroad? I think we returned to the office on January 28th, and have worked every day since then? Tomorrow Feb 10th is Eunkoo's birthday, let's hope she won't quit after working almost every day for almost two weeks.

Special visitors to the office

Eunkoo's sister and nephew came to visit! Some may recall him as the worst volunteer in TNKR history. He was much more diligent this time around. When we put the bunny ears behind his head for the photo--which took the fun out of teasing him!

He was joyful, enjoying being at the office with us. Eunkoo's sister brought some food for us. He even has his own YouTube channel, as managed by Mom.

Other items this week:
TNKR is on LinkedIn! Thanks to volunteer Jiwon Bang.
Students at APIS have started fundraising!
Josh Minsup Kim has started a birthday fundraiser for TNKR.
Be sure to follow Eben's Notes.

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