TNKR had three orientation sessions yesterday, from noon to 6 pm.
- Session 1 had 16 tutors, mainly with tutors who will be at the October 24 Matching session with 10 refugees ( 8 newcomers, 2 returnees).
- Session 2 had 13 tutors who will be at the October 31 Re-Matching session with 7 refugees returning to the program.
- Session 3 had 8 refugees who will be joining on Oct 24 (6 of them went through our new in-house tutoring program we launched last month).
Some notable things:
- Some of the most common questions we are asked about TNKR: “How do find refugees?” My response: “We don’t. They find us.” A related question: “How do refugees find you?” Based on yesterday: “Referrals.” All eight refugees at yesterday’s orientation were referred to the program by current or previous students. When we first started TNKR in March 2013, we did search, but not now. We have a waiting list of 50 refugees.
- One of the refugees said that she wants to work for TNKR. She was praising us so much, saying that 1) she can’t believe we don’t charge refugees anything 2) we should market more so every refugee can join, to which I said “no, we do this as volunteers.” 3) she hopes she can work with TNKR so we can help even more people.
- Assuming they all make it to the upcoming matching sessions, 29 new tutors will be joining the program. They are from all over the world (USA, South Korea, England, Canada, Canada/Scotland, Germany/Netherlands, Australia). In addition, they are coming in from all around Korea (Wonju, Gongju, Gunpo, Sangju, Bundang, Gimcheon, Gangseo, Suji, Suwon).
- Of course, we worry about the political ones or researchers with an agenda, but it seems that most of them are teachers who just want to contribute their time.
- We had many lovely comments from tutors. Several said they are fans of the program, some even expressed great admiration for the co-founders. One said that she loves how everything is in “black and white.” Communication is a key part of the program. for several months now we have been using Kakao to communicate, it has made the program much better. It is harder for tutors or refugees to hide from us, although some insist on having side conversations without us. By having a refugee in a Kakao group with all of his/her tutors and the co-directors means we all know what is going on, and it is a team effort.
- Several of the tutors also said they are eager to teach adults who are motivated to learn. But a few did express concerns about whether or not they would be chosen. In two years, we have had only 2 (out of 280) tutors who did not get picked. So we encourage the tutors to focus on what they can do rather than mentioning what they can’t do.
- At the end, the refugees were asking questions about me. Some had heard about me because of some of my other activities with refugees, but they wanted to know more about me. So I popped in my ppt showing my various activities over the years. It is then that they understand that I am devoted to freedom, opportunity and individual autonomy. I should not be surprised that they want to know about me, but it surprises me every time.
- Winding down, Eunkoo and I realized how crazy it was that we had six hours of orientations on a Saturday. So I suggested to her that we should take the day off. Of course, even Sunday morning, we are getting many messages and requests, and I’m writing this…
- When we first started TNKR, we had orientation and matching sessions the same day. And we tried to squeeze them both into two hours. After a while, we decided to divide them in half. We will never go back to doing it the way we had before. We meet the tutors in advance, we give them time to ask questions, we get to hear their questions and comments..