This year a new dimension of the Family Federation’s Special Task Force (STF) program for youth was opened when thirteen of our brave volunteers set out to Asia for six months to help launch the Asia Leadership Training (ALT) program.
These young American Unificationists have an opportunity to serve God and gain leadership experience in new and diverse cultural settings. They set out from San Francisco on Oct. 8, 2008 on a six-month journey that will take them through the Philippines, India, Thailand, Cambodia, and possibly Vietnam. When they departed, it was in the company of one of their mentors, a core STF staff person.
Our young brothers and sisters will be engaged in a range of outreach activities, such as lecturing the Pure Love curriculum, taking part in service projects, fund-raising when necessary, and participating in various workshops and events. The ALT program, led by Mr. Yutaka Yamada, was created as a parallel program to the STF program in the United States. Youth who participate in ALT will be asked to challenge their limitations in order to develop their self-discipline. They will be taught about the ideal of all humanity becoming One Family Under God, which Father Moon has strived for throughout his life. They will also be given opportunities to develop leadership qualities.
The program began with a week-long kickoff workshop in beautiful Tanay, Philippines, after which our STF members experienced ten days of fund-raising on the streets of Manila side by side with Asian youth! This was the first time overseas for many of the American brothers and sisters,. After completing their fundraising condition, the joint group of Americans and Asians divided up into five teams and headed out to their pioneering areas. Their photos and written reflections tell the rest of the story! More reports will follow.
Kenzo Tanaka, STF staff member on his ninth day in the Philippines:
Today I had a chance to walk around the neighborhood and observe the lifestyle of the poorer class people in Philippines. It was an eye-opening and shocking experience. As I walked around I became filled with pain and sadness and felt much frustration. Nowadays so many people are living a good lifestyle in countries like America, Europe, Japan… . But on the other hand, the majority of humankind is struggling to survive and keep going… . This kind of realization helps me to take my mission more seriously, and I hope my 13 brothers and sisters will have deep experiences while on ALT.
Jeremy Rogers, sharing about his experience teaching In Cavite, Philippines:
Last week was amazing, jam-packed with action! Our team was due to start lecturing from November 6 th, but the thing was that we only had one day to practice beforehand. The schools we went to had no projector so we all used manila paper to present our contents. That first morning was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time; we are like 10 minutes away from lecturing 100 people crammed into a small room. I have to admit that at first I was really nervous but when we were introduced to the school in the morning it was clear from the response that this was going to be a lot of fun. Every classroom had about 70 or more students, all ranging from age 12 to 16. The students were still perfecting their English, so we often had the response of “slang,” which basically means that you talk too fast or that your American accent is too strong!
Lecturing was really a new experience for all of us. I never knew how strenuous lecturing could be; all the classrooms in the school were right next to each other and all of them were full of loud kids talking. You had to speak at the top of your lungs for anyone to hear you. After the first two lectures we were losing our voices and exhausted from giving so much spirit. Each one of us lectured four times (a lecture is about one hour); it took two days to teach 2,000 students.
The great thing about the Pure Love lecture is that it is basically Divine Principle. Once you break it down to them and talk about why we need true love in this world, you are going to find a “Four Position Foundation” in front of you. God really does work in mysterious ways: We were not so confident to teach as we only had a little memorized, but the rest just came from the heart. It is an amazing experience, conveying the truth to those who need it the most. On top of that, it also gives you this reassurance in what you believe in. It makes so much sense when you explain it to others.
A few days later we had the wonderful opportunity to teach about true love to the overflowing school of South Ville, in the Manila relocation neighborhoods. This is where all the homeless people in Manila are relocated to, a total of more than 7,000. They have a lot of problems pertaining to youth coming straight from the big city. This was why we had been requested to give Pure Love lectures here .
Roland Platt is the director of Special Task Force programs in the United States.