2015-03-01 Mulmangcho School–good to be back

The Mulmangcho School (for Adolescent North Korean refugees) is a small alternative school for adolescent North Korean refugees founded in mid-2012 by Professor Park Sun-young. The school opened in September 2012, I have been the International Adviser to the school since October 2012.

Thanks to Rachel Stine, the Digital Fundraising Director at the Mulmangcho School, for organizing the Sunday trip to the Mulmangcho School (for Adolescent North Korean refugees)

Thanks to regular volunteer tutors Injee Lee, Ren Haynes,Aaron Grommesh and first-timers Julie Meyer Super, Paul Grossman for pushing back the frontiers of ignorance. Special thanks, as always, to Mike Ashley who always brings goodies for the volunteers, kids and staff. Yesterday we were joined by the documentary team from the UK, Edward Lawrence,Andrew Greenwood and Lee Sanders.

I have been the International Adviser to the Mulmangcho School since October 2012. Because I have been traveling and Teach North Korean Refugees, I don’t visit the school as often as I did in the past. Now when I visit, it is not in the capacity of being an organizer of the volunteers–rather, it is now as a donor and the International Adviser.

Don’t forget about the Mulmangcho/TNKR fundraiser this weekend. Injee confirmed with me yesterday that she would like me to speak at the event. https://www.facebook.com/events/1522073321387434

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2015-02-28 TNKR English Speech Contest

Next week TNKR will be celebrating its second anniversary. It started with two people–Lee Eunkoo and Casey Lartigue. And look at us now! We have matched at least 156 North Korean refugees and 12 South Koreans with 216 volunteers.

Yesterday we had a speech contest with North Korean refugees addressing the question: “How can you help North Koreans?” I listened with pride as each speaker addressed the question. As I asked in the introduction: “How many of you have ever given a public speech?” A number of hands went up. I then asked how many have ever given a speech in a second language. Many hands went down. And I meant to ask how many have ever done so in a third language, but I figured I had already made my point.

I raised money for the event so we could award prize money. The grand prize winner won 1 million won, but everyone who participated received at least 50,000 won just to thank them for participating. (Anyone who thinks that is not enough is welcome to make a donation that we can share with the speakers or can use at a future event). http://teachnorthkoreanrefugees.org/support-tnkr/

It was inspiring and interesting to hear directly from North Korean refugees, those who are practicing to become speakers as well as those with no intention on doing so (because of privacy and security concerns). They all presented thoughtful talks and one of them has me rethinking one of my positions.

Thanks to my TNKR co-director Lee Eunkoo and TNKR super special assistant Suzanne Atwill Stewart for organizing everything, judges John Redmond, Anne Ladouceur, Serena Ha and 고기완 for taking time out to join us.

My biggest regret is that I forgot to thank the high school girls who stood outside to help direct people to the event and also helped us set up! I always forget to thank someone, but I really regret that one. If they want to burn me in effigy then I will send them cardboard cutouts of myself. 🙂

Will post more photos (the toughest things about posting after events is chosing which photos to share and remembering which people said “don’t post my photo” and censoring others)…

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2015-02-27 TNKR Ambassador at Citizens’ Alliance fundraiser

February is the shortest month of the year, but it was a really busy one for alumni and students in the Teach North Korean Refugees Project!
Friday night, TNKR co-directors Lee Eunkoo and Casey Lartigue went out to hear one of our TNKR Ambassadors give a talk at a fund-raiser hosted by one of my favorite NGOs, The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights. One of the main organizers for the night was Joseph Steven Van Dorn, one of TNKR’s excellent tutors.
Just as a sampling, here are talks by TNKR alumni and students that I am aware of (and they don’t always tell me) in the month of February.
Cherie Yang
•Feb 9, Florida Gulf Coast University (Florida)
•Feb 9, Foundation for Government Accountability (Florida)
•Feb 12, John Locke Foundation (North Carolina)
•Feb 14, Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association
•Feb 28, TNKR speech contest
Joo Yang
• Feb 13, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
• Feb 20, Joo Yang, TEDx talk (Idaho)
Yeonmi Park
• Feb 14, International Students for Liberty Conference (Washington, DC)
• Feb 24, Geneva Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy
Eunju Kim
• Feb 24, Harvard University
Sungju Lee
• Feb 27, Citizens’ Alliance (Joseph Steven Van Doren)
• Feb 28, TNKR speech contest
Jihyun Park​
•being featured in numerous places, including “The Other Interview.”