About This Fundraiser
The donations raised through this fundraiser are directly for the purposes of lifting the financial burden that falls on volunteers of TNKR; the logistics of holding a study session in an appropriate space is not without latent cost and in my experience, alleviating this cost by any degree allows English tutors and coaches along with learners to focus on the study rather than the means of studying. Please take a moment to read through my description to understand why I am committing a portion of my time and efforts towards this organization.
Based in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR) is an NGO, which began operating exactly five years ago in March 2013. As the name implies, TNKR began with a simple concept: to provide North Korean refugees the opportunity to learn English, and at no cost. To date, TNKR has assisted three hundred thirty-six refugees from DPRK (as well as twenty-six South Korean nationals -- selected under very specific circumstances) with the help of the volunteered time of seven hundred and twenty-seven tutors and coaches. While the number may be averaged to about sixty-seven refugees per year, TNKR began with a small group and continues to develop their program and teaching methods to best fit the needs of refugees; the program is centered around refugees and the feedback of each learner has shaped the program into what it is today. As the program becomes more effective every year, refugees share their experiences, and new learners continue to enter the program -- a large portion through word-of-mouth.
Let me take a moment to tell you why I joined TNKR as a volunteer. I decided to move to my parents' homeland in January of 2017 after being born and having lived thirty years of my life in the United States. I am fortunate to have spent the majority of those thirty years with both grandparents on both sides in my life, and having been raised with the culture of my aging family members within close reach. Culture seems to be an increasingly polarizing topic in mainstream USA, but I am not here to talk about global politics (though I purposely chose to identify North Korea and South Korea as DPRK and ROK, respectively). As far as my own cultural identity, whatever I can claim as ethnic culture is comparative to me grasping at ashes blowing in the wind. To be honest, until recent history, many people were not aware of the consequences of the Korean War that continues to be a part of many peoples lives today. If not for the Korean War, I would not be here today; my maternal grandparents fled the North just after the Second World War and left behind friends and family without ever imagining that they would never see each other again.
I care about this cause because I have heard the stories of immigration and hardship that my grandparents and my parents have gone through. My grandparents first immigrated to a South American country before finally coming to the USA. After learning a new language and adapting to life as an outsider with very little resources and no knowledge of navigating life in a foreign country, they were fortunate to immigrate once more and settle down in California. The irony that can be told here is that my grandmother has now lived over thirty years in Los Angeles, but has never had to learn English at even a basic level of fluency -- granted, she was old enough to retire soon after she arrived and lives in a neighborhood where English language skills are not a requirement for her survival. On the other hand, the globalized society that we inhabit today is a world in flux and the ability to speak and comprehend English is a skill necessary for the majority of job opportunities across Seoul (and around the world). TNKR provides this critical resource for refugees who are in a foreign land after having very little exposure and access to this global language.
TNKR provides the opportunity for learners to set a goal -- whether college entrance preparation, job preparation, basic fluency, and so on (the list is as varied and numerous as the number of refugees) -- and the chance to fulfill the specific need to learn English through one-on-one tutoring. As such, learners are granted the opportunity to choose any number of tutors and coaches who best fit their needs. The specific amount of this fundraiser is a goal that I set to match the highest paying monthly salary for a private academy tutoring position that I was offered in Seoul. Currently, I work instead as a private tutor: focusing my time on a small number of students at a time receiving payment on a sliding scale, because my goal is to provide the students the optimal learning situation with the least amount of financial burden. As there are often months at a time when I struggle to make ends meet, I can understand that the operating costs of TNKR must be that much more difficult because they are operating as an NGO through the monetary contributions of donors and the time offered by volunteers: those who see the value in the mission of TNKR.
Thank you for your time and consideration! I trust that you see the value in TNKR and I believe you will take this opportunity to donate to TNKR. The majority of volunteers are native English speakers and who, like myself, are living in Korea without many resources at their disposal and with a small network to take advantage of. Your donation will help lift the financial burden of volunteers and to aid TNKR in best taking advantage of their network to best accommodate learners and teachers alike. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments!
From Seoul, With Love
Alexander SR Kim
Currently, 10,000 KRW is about 9.40 USD
Here is the direct link to the current TNKR project addressing this issue:
Tutors who joined Matching session 71.