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2019-09-20 Why freedom is essential


The winner of TNKR's 10th English speech contest today donated the prize money she received from the speech contest (1.09 million won, about $835) to TNKR.

Chaeeun's fundraiser:

Yes, that's what I wrote, and that's what happened! A North Korean refugee studying in TNKR just donated 1 million won to TNKR.

There are three main reasons I want to share this donation publicly. 1) So often we have people tell us, "You need to have testimonials from North Korean refugees." Somehow, *actions* by North Korean refugees are less impressive to people than words written up by a marketing specialist with soft music in the background and the right camera angles and video editing. Instead of staged videos, what kind of actions by North Korean refugees in TNKR am I talking about? --Referring other refugees to TNKR. We have not had to recruit refugees to join TNKR since our first year and we always have a waiting list no matter how many sessions we hold. --Returning to TNKR as often as possible. Some refugees contact us from abroad to let us know when they will be returning and some others call us as soon as they return! --Setting up fundraisers. We now have 11 North Korean refugees who have set up fundraisers for TNKR. That's even though we rarely discuss it with them. --Donating to TNKR. --Trying to connect us with others. But apparently those many actions still aren't as good as a 2 minute video testimonial written by a marketing genius with the right camera angles and music. 2) I have heard from more than one person that North Korean refugees join our speech contest because they are desperate for the opportunity to earn the prize money. Of course, my response is: "if that is true, why aren't more refugees joining the speech contest?" We have had 10 contests, most refugees join once or twice, for the challenge of speaking before an audience or the opportunity to say something. We have had 424 North Korean refugees study in TNKR, but only about 50 of them have joined the public speaking program and the speech contests. 3) Her donation can inspire others. A lady born in North Korea, where there is basically no concept of civil society, now married with two children, has decided to donate 1 million won to TNKR. I'm sure she could have bought many baby diapers and toys with that money instead. She has studied with 13 tutors and speech coach mentors in TNKR.

She says that her English has improved so much and that we provide the opportunity for North Korean refugees to share their thoughts, that she is so inspired by TNKR. She has referred many North Korean refugees to TNKR, and so many of them have told her about the great experience they have had studying with tutors and speech coach mentors.

Many people ask us "how are you going to spend the money?" Chaeeun didn't ask. I guess she can see how valuable TNKR has been for her and other refugees. **** Chaeeun's donation (and to be clear, she did not ask for us to highlight this, but agreed when she realized it would be valuable for TNKR and is cheering for it now)
Chaeeun's fundraiser:

Excerpt from her speech at my "Voices from the North" blog at the Korea Times:

Korea Times article about the speech contest:

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