From what I am hearing from others, the world is out of control. A global pandemic, US police officers wilding, citizens rioting and looting, and North Korea blowing up stuff again!
This week I barely checked the news. Meanwhile:
* I started the week with a fantastic 6 hour Zoom call with TNKR fans and volunteers around the world. I got so inspired by it that I set up another call for June 27th.
* TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee and I had lunch with one of our South Korean fans. She was one of the South Korean ladies lobbying on my behalf a few years ago when Korean immigration was taking its time approving my visa. She was calling immigration almost every day, denouncing whoever answered the phone and whichever executive she could reach, brow-beating them for not moving faster to keep me in the country. She was arguing that Korea was lucky to have me here and that Korea should give me a visa for life! The other day she handed us 300,000 won ($250 USD) in cash after she heard about our Matching Donation.
* A North Korean refugee visited us for counseling. The refugee (not pictured) was in the news several years ago for escaping directly across the DMZ. There is a great book waiting to written, but the refugee is more focused on adjusting to life in South Korea. We had a few refugees visit us this week, including two who couldn't stop praising us for the way TNKR engages North Korean refugees. One of the refugees said TNKR is the best organization in the world! And that other NK related NGOs should learn from us rather than feeling jealous or continuing with their approaches.
* On Tuesday, we had lunch with the Haanong business couple. They pledged almost $10,000 to us last year to help us get an office. We were going to have a Matching Donation Challenge with it, but I wasn't confident we could raise the money. They have agreed to hold a Matching Donation party to help us raise more funds! I had them laughing as I told them stories about my trouble-making days when I was younger. Eunkoo Lee deserves credit for remembering my many Old Uncle stories, and provoking me tell them!
* On Wednesday I had the most incredible Zoom call. I did something I rarely do--I recruited someone to join TNKR as a staffer. She could turn me down, but I had to ask!
* I learned that I may soon become the National Director in South Korea for an incredible organization based in the USA.
* Thursday, TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee and I had the most incredible meeting with the head of a foundation. It was one of those refreshing, "YES WE CAN" meetings. I will discuss it below.
* After that, we had an internal planning strategy meeting with Dave Fry, who has returned to TNKR as our Assistant Director of Strategic Development.
* We had a Zoom call with 19 South Korean mothers who want to support TNKR! Can you imagine the feeling, looking at 19 South Korean mothers on the screen eager to help our organization and cause?
* I was connected online with the previously anonymous donor for our super incredible Matching Donation Challenge. You can't imagine the feeling we have for the organizers of the Matching challenge and the Donor willing to match whatever money we can raise.
* Sharon Jang is working in our office again. She has been a student in TNKR for five years, and is now in her second stint as an office assistant. I have the feeling that she may work at TNKR forever. She came in early on Thursday, so TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee told her that she could leave early. When it was time for her to leave, she didn't. So I began ordering her out of the office. She refused. I opened the door, inviting her to leave. Then I asked when she would be back in the office, she said next week, so I told her, "You are fired, get out, don't come back until next week." She still stayed until the regular quitting time.
* Friday afternoon TNKR volunteer Sandia Wood paid for lunch for TNKR staff. TNKR naturally focuses on refugees, but it is great when our fans treat our underpaid staff to lunch. Snacks and lunch are great for office morale!
* Another day, another steam of loving messages from TNKR's number one cheerleader, Eben Appleton. Even when I am mean to her, she thinks it is great. She kept asking me how she could help, so finally I suggested she start a TNKR Fan Club. Now she won't leave me alone about that and has a great excuse to send me endless messages! :-)
* Two different volunteers visited us yesterday with their respective fathers. Both meetings were special in different ways, and one was so inspiring for me that words can't explain my feeling, as I will discuss below.
To zero in on two meetings in particular:
* The meeting with the leader of a foundation was incredible. I am so used to people being so careful that I have forgotten what it is like to deal with someone who says "Yes, let's do that." When discussing ideas, he gives quick yes or no answers, but usually, "Yes, let's try it!" And what about trying that? "Of course! Let's try it."
I wasn't psychologically prepared for the meeting. He was more enthusiastic about our ideas than we were. But also, he was clear about when he thought something wouldn't work, so he is not an out-of-control rubber stamp. He looks for collaboration opportunities, thinking about his network and how we fit inside it.
It was great meeting dealing with an executive ready to work with us. Everything we said or suggested, he was ready to take it to another level, to talk about people we could collaborate with.
It helps that the executive had already researched about us. He clearly checked EVERYTHING about us, watched TV specials and media segments about us. He knew plenty about me in particular, I expect he might have even contacted colleagues or possible mutual acquaintances to learn more about me.
Perhaps he could say "YES" to us because he knows that we are serious, focused and professional.
That meeting with that executive was one of the most inspiring professional meetings we have had. Yesterday was one of the most inspiring personal meetings I ever have had with a volunteer.
She recently graduated from high school and is preparing (if the virus situation allows it) to study abroad. She has been around us for two years, but today was the first time she UNLEASHED herself. It started from the first couple of minutes, with her humoring with us with various stories. Then she began talking about the impact I have had on her, about her feeling when she first read about me, and then the moment she got to meet me. She was complimenting me so much, clearly from her heart.
Before anyone assumes she is the type to compliment everyone, slow down!
She is clearly a handful to deal with--opinionated, analytical, outspoken, ambitious, motivated, and lovely at the same time. In other words, she is a lot like the person she was praising!
Her father was laughing about it all. She said her parents were thankful she was going away to college, and it turned out that her school principal and even the mayor of her area may be holding a "She's leaving!" party. She is not the type to compliment everyone and everything, she is clear about the things she likes and the things she doesn't like. It turned out that I have been in her "like" column for quite a while, but I didn't know it. I was also unprepared psychologically for that meeting.
She will be going abroad for college, but I will definitely stay in touch with her, much better than I have done so far, now knowing what I know. It is humbling when people talk about the impact you have had on them, and you are thinking you haven't done much, and definitely not enough!
It was a wonderful way to wrap up the week. Before she left, she surprised us with a 1 million won ($825 USD) donation. I think it came from dad. I have the feeling dad was going to give less, but she wasn't about to let him get away with it! We then applied it to our Matching Donation Challenge.
I thought I would be taking a day off today (Saturday), but I will be having a popup meeting with the TNKR Fan Club to start the day.
Then tomorrow (Sunday) I will be speaking at an event, "Do Black Lives Matter in Korea?"