As a junior in college, my goal for this semester was to exceed my limit and take on every opportunity that presented itself. I was excited and yet also nervous because it would push me to meet my goals and achieve what I really wanted: Success. Fulfillment. A sense of accomplishment. Through a very hectic and busy semester jumping in to see what I was made of, I discovered something about myself.
At the United Nations General Assembly
I transferred to the University of Bridgeport (UB) to major in Religion and Politics with a concentration in East Asian studies. Thanks to the support of my dean, Dr. Thomas Ward, I’ve been able to do much more than I ever thought I could. I’ve taken master’s level classes and, even though I never thought I would study abroad, I earned a full scholarship to study Korean and North Korean Politics and Culture this July in Seoul, South Korea.
Beyond academics, I also took on an internship with the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) in New York City, got hired as a UB Student Ambassador, and represented my university at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference at the end of March.
That Sounds Crazy!
It sounds like a lot but I figured these were all things I was excited about and wanted to do. My challenge was to stay focused and committed to my goal through the ups and downs of the semester. Through these accomplishments, I have much to be proud of and am grateful I took the leap out of my comfort zone.
However, it wasn’t all easy. In pushing myself, I also noticed areas where I fell short, where I lacked confidence, and where there was definitely room to grow. I found that no matter the shortcomings, there were lessons to be learned. One of my most eye-opening experiences this year was attending the National Model United Nations Conference.
The United Nations on the last day of the conference
Thousands of college students from hundreds of universities across the globe traveled to New York City to take part in this conference each year, as representatives of the member states of the United Nations in the different UN committees. My university represented Brunei Darussalam, a small Asian country next to Malaysia,and I served as a delegate for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), a new committee of the UN that will meet to discuss safe and environmentally-friendly city building. Delegates had to work together to write, edit, and vote on resolutions that would be accepted by the whole committee. Some realities about the conference became clear to me right away.
It’s not about what you know. It’s about what you do.
Our squad–the Pacific Islands represent!
Even though we were all supposed to be representing a country, including its real-life partnerships, I quickly realized that the country’s name on someone’s badge was not enough to make them an ally. Being genuine, diplomatic, and self-motivated to bring people together made them an ally. By all rights, I “should” have worked most closely with fellow strong Southeast Asian nations. However, the delegates that stood out to me (because of their openness) came from micro island nations of the Pacific–Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and others. As a team, we could do more as a strong coalition because of our harmony and ability to listen.
Don’t just step out of your comfort zone–Take a running leap!
If there was one mistake I made during the conference, it was not taking every opportunity to put myself out there. During each session, between bouts of frantic paper-writing, each committee listened to their peers give small speeches (60-90 seconds long) about their country’s viewpoints, goals, and actions so far in the conference. That was a big way that people could publicize their work and gain allies. To speak, each delegation had to ask to be added to the “speaker’s list” by sending a note to the chair. Not once did I ask to be added to the list. I was anxious about not being prepared enough to speak eloquently before the committee. That fear ended up holding me back. I realized that although I was committed to take part in this conference, I wasn’t fully committed to getting the most out of the experience. Next time, I’ll be sure to take the risk and learn from whatever comes of it.
You’re a kingpin so make it count.
Working hard on our paper
Leading up to the conference, I felt that I might get lost in the crowd among hundreds of schools and thousands of other students. I wondered to myself, “What would set me apart as valuable and important compared to another delegation?” However, being there, I realized the power of a single voice. As we were putting in the final edits to our working paper, my group of scrappy island nations were tasked to merge our work with that of two other smaller groups. Normally, that’s not a big deal. It’s easy if we work together. However, that merger nearly ruined everything. The leader of one merger group decided that they would be the de facto leader of everyone. All final edits would go through her. Others wanted to divide and conquer based on strengths (editing, making clarifications, etc.), which had worked efficiently throughout the conference, but she would not listen. She offended another delegation, who even reported her. The last few hours were almost completely wasted by the power of a single selfish voice.
In the face of that drama, I found my voice.
As time was running out, I realized that the fight with this girl had displaced the reason why we were all there. Everyone’s hard work was on the line, and instead of continuing to argue against her, I advocated for working with her. In the end, our working paper was accepted and we could celebrate our shared success rather than be left feeling bitter over our disagreements.
Be courageous out there and remember the big picture. If you show a commitment to the higher goals, you can build connections wherever you go.
University of Bridgeport delegation at the United Nations, with Distinguished Delegation award
You’re probably wondering, “Who is this? I’ve never seen him before!”
This is the city, Düsseldorf’, in Germany where I’m from.
Well, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Takanari Wakayama. I am a CARP member all the way from Germany, and I am here in the States for an internship at CARP America. My dad is Japanese and my mom is from Germany. I grew up in a community in a city called ‘Düsseldorf’ (pronounced du-sil-dorf) after moving from Japan to Germany at a very young age. Currently, I am majoring in Asian Studies.
Ever since I attended my first workshop as a kid, I was captivated by the atmosphere in which Unification Principles were taught as well as the strong bond between my brothers and sisters. I always wanted more!
CARP of Germany Past: an anti-Communism rally at the Berlin Wall in 1987. The march was led by World CARP President, Hyo Jin Moon.
So at the age of 19, I got the chance to be part of a committee responsible to take care of younger Unificationists studying Unification Principles in HARP (instead of a “collegiate” association, it’s a “high school” association) and to organize similar workshops to the ones which I myself have enjoyed so much.
However, in growing older, I realized it was not enough to just teach young people in their teens about crucial things in life. Follow-up is crucial. Luckily, I got the chance to do just that and be part of a new CARP committee formed in 2014.
As a member of CARP Germany, I feel we often fall short on living up to our country’s rich history. On this very turf, the battle between communism and the free world was fought and won at the Berlin Wall over 26 years ago. CARP members around the world made a huge contribution to this, and it represented the power of what we can achieve when we all work together.
CARP Germany sharing a light moment. (Takanari pictured far left.)
Now, I am here to learn from our elder brother nation, America. I hope this internship can broaden my horizon as well as bring our nations together. Only God knows the challenges that lie ahead where we will need a strong bond as brothers and sisters again.
I’ll be in America for the next 7 weeks, so come by to visit and get to know me! 🙂
*Let’s show him a real American welcome. Welcome him in the comments below or send your greeting to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, “Welcome Takanari!”
The emcee welcomes me up to the stage. Over 200 people from 33 European nations gathered in one great hall for a Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) European Leaders Assembly on April 8-10, 2016. During their Youth segment, I’m given 10 minutes to present about the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) in America, its activities, and recent developments. The screen behind me is huge. I grab the mic and jump right in. People seem to be listening with interest.
“STEP UP is changing people’s lives, one action step at a time.”
STEP UP (STudent EmPowerment through Unification Principles) is CARP America’s newly launched program, where students engage in the study of Unification Principles and explore ways to practically apply them in their lives.
I manage to squeeze in a few more exciting projects that CARP America is working on. Then I hand the mic back to the emcee and he asks the audience, “Do you all have your seat belts on? Are you ready for the ride?”
That’s right, CARP America is ready to take you on a ride and we want the whole world to join in!
As CARP America’s International Liaison, I had the privilege to visit several European countries as part of a greater effort to strengthen connections among CARP communities around the world. Maybe it’s because I was born in France (my father is French) that I felt very much at home in Europe.
CARP Breakout Session: Twenty leaders gather for a breakout on CARP, each of us curious to find out more about each other. Each country representative shares about their unique situation. It is clear that CARP’s circumstances and prospects differ from country to country. Yet, I can sense that the desire to work together is very much present. A common thread that emerges from the discussion is lack of money, lack of full-time staff, and lack of communication on a regional level. We all acknowledge the need to meet up more often, but since that is not always easy, we start working out the details for a way to communicate and share resources anywhere, anytime. One that we will actually use. It is inspiring to know that there are people devoted to CARP all over Europe, and that there is a real thirst for connecting and working together. This is just the beginning.
At dinnertime, I had a really interesting conversation about education over a very traditional Czech meal of potatoes and schnitzel. My main takeaway from the conversation was, “We can educate students as much as we like but we must also let them experience and realize it for themselves.”
Immediately, I thought CARP could offer these opportunities for experiences and realizations. At CARP, we focus on the study but also the application of Unification Principles – principles that bring unity (see all 7 here):
–We can develop genuine relationships through sincere selfless interactions.
–We contribute to society through mastery of our unique creativity.
STEP UP is a two-day program where we explore each of these principles over the course of 7 sessions. Each session includes a brief talk on the principle and then an interactive activity where participants get to experience the power of applying the principle in their lives. For example, we do a listening exercise to get participants to realize how important listening is to building genuine relationships. We want to give students the tools to discover and experience the principles in their daily lives in a very practical way. And do so in a way that they can clearly see the impact of applying these principles in their lives.
CARP Czech Republic: This was my first time presenting CARP America’s newly launched program STEP UP so I was feeling quite nervous. Useless thoughts raced my mind as I prepared for the presentation. How will they react? What will they think of it? One of the participants, Pavlina, suddenly tapped me, thankfully interrupting my disempowering train of thought. She pointed to something in the song book. We had flipped to the final song before starting my presentation and right next to the song was a photo of the famous “Church of our Lady” in Prague. What are the odds that we land on the song with a photo of the very building I had just visited earlier that day in Prague! I took it as a jolt of encouragement and a good sign that I was in the right place 🙂
So here we are, 10 people sitting on three big sofas- it felt homey. I started by giving a brief introduction on CARP America and then gave them a taste of our STEP UP program by giving a short talk on one of the Unification Principles: “We mature through pursuing truth, beauty and goodness.” This is the first time we are introducing STEP UP to Europe and I had no idea how the reaction would be. At the very start, everyone was reserved and I had to encourage them saying, “Don’t be shy. This talk is interactive. I will be asking you many questions so please feel free to shout out your thoughts.” That was all the encouragement they needed. I felt a sense of relief as they became more and more comfortable expressing their thoughts.
After the talk, I lead them through an exercise where participants get to experience different levels of listening. I started by making them experience level 0 where there is no listening involved. Your partner asks you a question and then simply ignores your answer for 1 minute. I was surprised how much they really got into it. I saw one person totally ignoring their partner by pretending to talk on their cellphone and looking out the window or just focusing on sipping their tea. I was so grateful that they invested in the exercise wholeheartedly, making the experience that more real and impactful. This set the tone for the rest of the exercise. When we got to level 2, people were eager to know what was next asking, “there’s another level after this?” Towards the end of the exercise, the room was buzzing with excitement and bright faces.
One participant expressed that she appreciated the exercise because it helped her to see how these principles could be applied to real life. “I know these Unification principles but I always struggled with putting them into action. Now I know what I can do to practice those principles in a tangible way in my daily life.”
CARP Austria: Austria boasts many wonderful historic buildings and I had the pleasure of seeing a few. We started with St. Stephen’s Cathedral and walked around the square. Then came the challenge: finding the best coffee and dessert in Vienna City. Three CARP members had come out to give me a tour of the city and now they were engaged in a thorough debate. “Should we take her to Aida or Café Central?” I appreciated their heart to want to show me the best Vienna had to offer. After much discussion on the pros and cons of each coffee shop, we decide to go to Café Central, a beautiful traditional cafe, where it is said that famous people like Sigmund Freud often frequented to hold talks over afternoon coffee.
The next day, 15 people gathered, all eager to know a little more about CARP America. I gave my presentation and then opened up the floor to any questions. The questions came in one by one, by far the most questions I’ve received on this tour all together. But I was glad to answer them because it showed that they really did have an interest.
We got to level 3 on the listening exercises. I introduced in tuitive listening and then asked them to try it out for 1 minute each. When the 1 minute was over, I stopped them but one participant looked up at me with a bit of remorse on her face indicating that she was not ready to stop the deep conversation they were having. “Was that really one minute?” she asked suspiciously to which I answered with another question, “Doesn’t 1 minute feel a lot shorter when you’re truly engaged in listening to someone?”
As soon as the presentation was over, several people came up to me saying they were inspired by the program. Even as I write this report, one of the participants who helped organize the gathering has been constantly asking me for the resources to be able to organize similar programs and events. It’s coming soon!
Holland Youth: The day I arrived, I got to see a little bit of Amsterdam, the city where bicycles own the roads. We passed in front of the famous Amsterdam museum and I saw some tulips lining the building. My goal was to see at least one tulip in Holland so mission accomplished!
We then drove to the workshop location – Glory House. It is a beautiful old house turned hotel. It is lost among the forest and you can see the sea from the window of the lecture room. Hoping that the participants wouldn’t be too distracted by the lovely view outside, I took the stage with sunlight bursting into the room.
And then my worst fear happened right there in front of the room – my computer went black and died. I was so embarrassed. We have become so dependent on technology and computers, it’s hard to believe they didn’t exist a couple decades ago! Luckily my computer resurrected and I could do my presentation. It was that time of day, late afternoon, when all your body wants to do is take a nap, but the participants followed along well.
After the listening exercise, one participant came up to me and shared very honestly, “I realized I do that a lot. I don’t really listen to people. I want to work on that and change that.” Realization it is the first step; taking action is the next. We finished the session just in time for a warm curry dinner.
CARP Albania: I hopped off the plane and rushed to hop up onto the stage. CARP Albania was by far my biggest audience with about 30 participants. I explained that one way to grow our capacity to love is through doing acts of service. Then I asked them to write down an action step for the week. One participant shared with the rest of the group that his act of service for the week would be “to cook a meal for my grandmother.” How sweet!:) At the end of the listening exercise, one participant beamed, “I was happy to be able to ask my friend deeper questions to try to understand how he was feeling and what he really values in life. I could listen to what he had to say and just offer my full presence.” They really got the point of the exercise and that made me so happy as the facilitator.
At the end, I asked, “Who would you like to offer the gift of listening to this week?” Participants were challenged to take an action step: to think of one person whom they don’t listen to deeply and to intentionally take their listening to the next level.
One participant asked me,“ What if it is the other person that is ignoring me and not listening to me?” I responded by saying that we cannot change other people and that we can only work on ourselves. The best we can do is offer our own gift of listening to them and those around us and hope that they will one day also learn to give that gift of listening. It was such a great experience that 3 new guests who attended the presentation signed up to become CARP members that day! That made me feel that STEP UP has a lot of value to offer students, no matter the country. It was a short stay but I got to experience Albanian food, Albanian culture and most importantly, the warm hearts of the Albanian people.
I went to 4 very different countries with the same STEP UP program and was thoroughly relieved to see that the response was all very positive. Despite our differences, deep down we all aspire to become better people. STEP UP offers us the chance to learn about Unification Principles and how we can apply them in our lives with the hope of leading better lives and making a greater, positive impact in our communities. This is just the beginning. Like our founder and True Mother, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, recently stated, “We have to work together. Nations can no longer pursue their own interest. Countries should help each other and become united.” Despite our differences, there is without a doubt something that we can all learn from each other. Together, we can achieve so much more. Thanks for coming along for the ride and see you at Momentum in July for new adventures! Check out our website (carplife.org/international) to submit a cool story or find out more about what other CARP chapters around the world are up to!
Our CARP chapter representatives have been working hard all semester and we want to acknowledge them for their service, compassion and effort. They have worked hard to do something different, necessary, and valuable – to make a real difference with students in understanding their God-given purpose, value, and identity. They are part of the student movement. They have engaged in regular coaching sessions with CARP staff to prepare powerful programs for the students in their campuses and communities. They’ve developed relationships and practiced communication skills with their teams. Without them, CARP would not be the same.
We want to thank all of our CARP Student leaders for a job well done and we know they didn’t do it alone. It takes a village so we want to acknowledge all of the parents, friends, family, professors, etc. that helped them achieve their victories this semester – THANK YOU!
We also want to acknowledge our student members and leaders. Let’s share with them the difference they have made and how grateful we are for their hard work. You can send a message to a specific chapter, chapter leader, or member. OR you can send a message to ALL CARP students. The deadline to submit is by May 31st, 2016 so we can make sure they can receive our gratitude.
At CARP, we strive to become the best storytellers! Transform boring reports into captivating stories! Not sure how to do that? Don’t worry, we have prepared some questions here that can serve as a guide. After answering these questions, you will have all the ingredients needed to make an interesting story and share it with the world! And like one wise writer once told me, “Never be afraid to have a really bad first draft!” So let’s get started!
Writing and sharing stories is one way to share best practices and inspire other CARP chapters around the world 🙂
Guide Questions to Writing Good Stories
What: Event Name, Theme, Date, location, number and type of participants
Why: What was the main purpose and desired outcomes for this event?
Challenge: What was the main challenge/difficulty you encountered while preparing for this event or during this event?
Victory: How did you overcome the challenge?
Celebration: What was the highlight of the event activity /meeting? (What was the best thing that happened?)
Testimony: What was the reaction of the participants attending the event activity meeting? (Include testimonies, reflections, direct quotes from the participants)
Impact: What was accomplished through this event/activity/meeting?
*** Please include a couple pictures that you think best showcases your event/activity/meeting 🙂
Here are some effective shots you may want to consider:
Group shot (with a banner if possible)
Action shot: participants engaged in a particular connected to the event
VIPs: this could be your guests, sponsors, or the people who are directly benefiting from your event