(TNKR) Teach North Korean Refugees began in March 2013 with a simple session matching a few North Korean refugees and fluent and native English speakers together.
Three years and 5 months later, we held our 48th Matching session, on August 27, 2016.
This session was recorded from start to finish, with a cable TV crew staying from 11 am until 8:30 p.m. It was later included in the TVN special about TNKR. You can check this scene here at Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/ByPev2Wl9gT/
* 7 of the refugees are returnees, with several of them coming back more than once.
* Of the 11 coaches selected, 10 were first-timers and the other was joining after tutoring in Track 1 since last November.
* Of the refugees participating in this session, two later went on to give TEDx Talks, another has spoken at Harvard and Princeton Universities, and another gave a moving speech on the US military base before she decided that public speaking was not for her. One challenge we have with volunteers is that they try to rush them along, but we want the speakers to focus on the learning process and developing at their own speed.
* Several of the coaches mentioned that they learned about TNKR through Facebook. So the people whining that I post too much should unfriend me or turn off notifications from me.
Feedback from refugees:
--It was a special session because of the TV cameras. I am always thankful the tutors encourage refugees to speak out.
* I'm very excited to be joining Track 2, my heart was beating fast as I thought about joining. My English has definitely improved in Track 1, and now with Track 2, I can focus on public speaking. As I listened to the volunteers explain why they want to join the program, I almost started crying. The beautiful tutors can make a beautiful life.
* I have family reasons not to open up to the world yet. I do hope the coaches can stay with us long-term, it is really important for refugees to gain confidence in public speaking, so we can tell our stories.
* I was so nervous last night, I couldn't sleep. I saw so many beautiful volunteers, I am so honored to meet them. Knowing they are volunteering for us makes me want to study harder.
Feedback from coaches:
**I was a little nervous at first. I was more nervous when I opened the door, there were like 9 cameras there. Then I was more nervous during the session that I wouldn't get picked. It felt like elementary school when people are choosing teams. I am so impressed by the camaraderie within TNKR.
** I was also a little nervous. But I wasn't prepared to do an interview.
* I feel that both sides get a lot out of this, we also have something to learn.
* The speech contest was deeply inspiring, I am humbled to be a part of this.
**I was nervous that I might not get to participate, that I might not get chosen. So I am even more excited to be part of the experience. It was really memorable to hear the refugees talk about their goals, it can help me to be around people so determined to improve themselves.