As summer comes to a close, we look back at the inspiring initiative of CARP Las Vegas who created a cross-country leadership training to deepen their friendships, faith, and understanding of God’s providence.
CARP Las Vegas in front of the Washington Monument where Father Moon spoke in the 1970s.
For 50 days during the summer, CARP Las Vegas brought 19 of their members on a cross country leadership training. From May 28 to July 16, they traveled from California to New York, stopping in various states along the way.
The purpose of this trip was to strengthen the participants’ practice in the Principles they’ve been studying and to learn how to share them in real, practical ways.
“I am really grateful for the 40-day leadership training! I have changed a lot! Through this training I have been challenged to increase my capacity to love especially in situations where it may seem difficult to love my brothers and sisters.” – Jonathan Daza
CARP Las Vegas at Unification Theological Seminary where they visited their member Micheal Cordero during Generation Peace Academy’s graduation ceremony.
A cross country trip was in the works since January of this year. The core members in LV wanted to give their members a chance to grow from being participants to being leaders and realized only a retreat experience would allow the kind of growth they desired.
Their trip had five major components: fundraising, pilgrimage, workshops, community outreach, and mobilization leading up to Mother Moon’s Peace Starts With Me Rally at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Fundraising training had two purposes: to fund the trip itself (very practical) and to practice sharing about CARP as a way to deepen their understanding. While fundraising, the members faced rejection but used those experiences to learn through it, realizing the value of the Principle.
“It was my first time to do fundraising where we go out for a whole day. It was very hard, and I almost gave up until I realized the importance of being a mediator for God. I learned the pain and challenge of loving people unconditionally. Even though I felt pain when I was treated like trash by people, I felt how much the person is important to God and True Parents. I realized how much I was important as well.” – Misato Koiso
Their morning singing to bring up the spirit before fundraising.
The second part of their trip was a pilgrimage visiting Father and Mother Moon’s (True Parents’) historic landmarks where workshops, seminars, speeches, and different activities inspired the masses with Unification Principles.
Through places like the Unification Theological Seminary (the graduate school founded to unite and teach world religions), East Garden in New York (Father and Mother Moon’s main residence in America), and the Washington Monument (where Father Moon spoke to thousands on the national mall), CARP LV was able to experience and appreciate True Parents’ work in the United States.
Belvedere, NY, True Parents’ training center in New York where members learned about Unification Principles.
“This pilgrimage taught me a lot about [True Parents] and how much investment and love they had. I can see them more through the [challenges] they had to go through and how they cared so much for God through visualizations or objects rather than just hearing stories.” – Jennifer Silero
After the pilgrimage, CARP LV traveled to Camp KOHOE (Kingdom of Heaven on Earth) in Michigan and hosted an introduction to Unification Principles workshop for young Unificationists and friends from June 16 to June 18. New and returning students of the Principle gathered from nearby states and all could see the transformation of understanding the Principle for the first time.
Workshop at Camp KOHOE.
The second workshop CARP hosted was in Dallas, Texas from June 26 to July 3, which focused on Father and Mother Moon’s life. Local Unificationists also participated. This workshop was a great preparation for True Mother’s upcoming rally that would take place in New York in the next few weeks.
During the community outreach portion, CARP LV visited different Unificationist communities (like Clifton, NJ, Bowie, MD, and more) and shared their profound outreach experiences in CARP. CARP LV also facilitated discussion forums for the local community.
“By intermingling with [CARP LV] and hearing their testimonies, [the communities] were able to connect personally to the idea of [outreach].” – Jinil Fleischman
The last leg of their trip took place in New York City from July 9 to July 15th where they “mobilized” people by inviting them to Mother Moon’s “Peace Starts With Me” rally. Through the training up until this point, CARP LV members felt connected to Mother Moon as they shared with others about her dream for peace.
“I felt closer to [Mother Moon] through testifying to her and the event to many people from different backgrounds. I was more prepared to receive the event and understand the value of it through people who have been searching for someone who stands for peace.” – Abby Richardson
New York City and CARP Las Vegas.
They also participated in the rally and saw Mother Moon live. Hearing about her for 50 days and then actually getting to meet her was deeply moving for the participants of the trip.
“I felt so much pride in [Mother Moon] and the event. Madison Square Garden was really a time where we were coming together as brothers and sisters, and as God’s children, no matter how different we are. It made me really think and appreciate the position that I was in to be a part of this event.” – Marcus Fuller, Jr.
They held their graduation completion ceremony for their trip on July 16 at Belvedere Training Center in New York, another special place where True Parents’ legacy continues on.
CARP Las Vegas excited and pumped to be moving forward this year!
Based on the foundation they laid in the summer, Las Vegas hopes to build on that momentum. Every weekend since, they host Principled Life training workshops to help build on what they have gained. They are also hosting a Pure Love workshop to emphasize the importance of God-centered relationships and abstinence before marriage. They formed trinities (groups of three) to continue to support each other at home and solidify the healthy habits they learned.
“The biggest impact will be the spiritual lives of the people who went to the trip. Having been raised from being CARP members to being core members, so they can be staff in the future…through having attended the trip, will received the training to keep sharing the value of Unification Principles.” – Jinil Fleischman
CARP Las Vegas also plans to do more of these trips in future, and they hope to include more people from other communities across America.
This trip is truly inspiring for us in CARP and in America because it is a success story. A successful endeavor by young people to nurture and grow young people to be the standard bearers of hope and leadership in this country, not just in their own community but in other communities as well. As the future gets more uncertain, there will be a need for young people who are not uncertain about where they stand in faith and in leadership.
The CARP America National Team is excited to welcome a new staff member, Jennifer Pierce! A member of CARP LA who also reported on the recent international exchange trip, Jennifer is a wonderful addition to the team as the new Program Assistant.
To better introduce her and have you, our readers and supporters, get to know her, we asked Jennifer about her ambitions and her experience as a college student and with CARP and what her new role can offer.
Jennifer and her family at her commencement ceremony, May 16, 2016.
Writing for Positive Values
Jennifer is 22 years old and two years out of college. She attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles (just by the beach!) from September 2012 to December 2015 and graduated Cum Laude with a degree in screenwriting.
Growing up in the Hollywood hub, Jennifer always loved movies and the movie-making process. In high school, she was a writer for the school newspaper. To merge her two interests, Jennifer decided to pursue screenwriting in college.
Working on set in her apartment.
While writing scripts for movies and TV pilots, with a little bit of voice acting on the side, Jennifer thought about the impact her screenwriting could have on the world.
“I would love to use screenwriting to promote positive values to present a counter-proposal [to what the media presents today]. I think the media is really skewed toward negative things right now.”
Jennifer has truly tapped into the potential she believes she can have in the world of entertainment. At this time, she imagines a self-production route using the scope of the internet as a way to break into and disrupt the industry dominated by Hollywood.
Living Outside My Parent’s Home
Needless to say, Jennifer’s conviction to spreading positive values aligns with CARP’s mission to empower students to study and share the Unification Principles. During college, however, Jennifer did not have a CARP chapter on her campus, which is something she wished she could have experienced.
Jennifer and her film major friends at their end of the year bonfire.
“I did have fun in college, but did it have purpose? I wish I had a CARP-like structure. It would have provided me with more conviction towards what I wanted to do [earlier on].”
Still, Jennifer found a way to stay true to her convictions. For example, when Jennifer was living with a roommate, she was determined to clean the house every day. In building up this good habit, her roommate felt so grateful especially when her next roommate wasn’t so helpful in the cleaning department.
Besides learning to cook and clean for herself (which Jennifer encourages all students to experience, even in their parent’s house), Jennifer also learned how to share her faith with her college friends.
“In an environment that doesn’t support [my beliefs] 100%, [once I shared], my roommate was respectful. A lot of people don’t have that kind of experience. I had friends who supported me and respected me.”
Jennifer and her friends during commencement.
Because Jennifer first and foremost believed in herself and her faith, she could confidently explain that to those around her even though they were living in another kind of culture.
In this light, Jennifer could be open about her habits and convictions to not date or drink and to even attend the Marriage Blessing Ceremony conducted by True Parents in Korea in 2013.
To share with other people on your campus allows you to eventually find support even from those who might not share your values. It’s like saying your goals out loud so someone can hear them and hold you accountable to them. This was Jennifer’s college experience.
Jennifer and CARP in Japan in 2016.
Becoming a Dedicated CARPie
Finally, in the summer before her last semester in 2015, Jennifer got a chance to work with CARP. She went out every day with CARP LA members to do community outreach and share what CARP was all about with others.
“I didn’t enjoy it at first, but then I found that if I really believed in these things [the Unification Principles] then I should be able to share it.”
This was the same approach Jennifer took in college where she developed confidence in the things she believed in which then she could share confidently.
By the fall semester, a CARP chapter was formed at Pasadena City College (the first campus chapter to open under the CARP LA parent branch). Even though she was finishing up her studies at LMU, she stepped up as Event Coordinator to continue outreach initiatives for the CARP Pasadena branch.
“It was a very rocky start and a learning experience. [For the semester] we put on one community service event, one fundraising event, and one social event.”
Jennifer sharing Unification Principles during a CARP Pasadena meeting.
The Momentum retreat organized by National CARP in January 2016 gave Jennifer and her team more tools and processes to put on even more successful events and campaigns. One of these events was a partnership with the local bowling alley wherein CARP Pasadena was able to raise funds from the tickets sold.
Since the spring of 2016, Jennifer joined the bigger leagues as a CARP LA Board Member along with Jermaine Bishop, Yuri Kaneko, and Hitoe Hiraki (who will be starting up a CARP chapter at Cal State LA this fall). In this role, Jennifer has been supporting chapters in the LA area and facilitating communication.
Jennifer with (bottom L to R) International Liaison Nina Urbonya, National CARP President Teresa Rischl, and (top) CARP LA President Jermaine Bishop.
Starting in a New Role at CARP America
Jennifer’s experience as a CARP LA Board Member lends itself well to her new role as Program Assistant with the National CARP.
The role of Program Assistant consists of two objectives:
Chapter support: providing tools and resources to college and community chapters. This could be information on how to start up or maintain a chapter, assistance in clarifying chapter goals, and providing samples of chapter constitutions.
Communications: reporting on local chapter events and providing inspiring stories via the CARP website and social media channels. This could be collecting local chapter news from chapter reps, conducting interviews with students, and facilitating communication between chapters.
In addition to her new role, Jennifer will continue her ministry work as a Sunday School teacher and a LA Family Church council member to give back to her local community. She will also carry on her work as a CARP LA chapter member and staff while conveniently working at Pasadena City College.
“It’s kind of funny because I’m going to actually be communicating with myself.”
Let’s not have Jennifer only communicating with herself! She is a resource for all chapters across the US looking for support or to be inspired and empowered to continue the important work that CARP does for the college student demographic.
From August 5-6, 2017, over 400 people gathered in Berlin, Germany to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the CARP Rally at the Berlin Wall (read the official report here). This was a significant event in CARP’s history.
Thirty years ago, in 1987, CARP held its 4th CARP Convention for World Students in Berlin, gathering CARP members from all over the world. At that time, the Berlin Wall delineated East and West Berlin, separating the communist and democratic worlds. There were many protests of the Wall as world leaders sought to bring unity to a divided people and nation.
CARP held several demonstrations at the Berlin Wall and was committed to bringing unity and peace to a divided Germany. That same year, the World CARP President at the time, Hyo Jin Moon (son of the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon) gave a rousing speech and desperately prayed with other CARP members at the Berlin Wall.
It was a dangerous time as fights, protests, and aggressive groups battled for and against the Wall. Despite the dangerous risk, CARP members demonstrated their courage in standing for a principled, God-centered world. The 30th Anniversary celebration honored the efforts of these heroes who contributed to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Honoring the Past
The 30th Anniversary Celebration kicked off with some music offered by a reunion of some of the members of the Blue Tuna CARP band, followed by welcoming remarks from current CARP leaders of Germany, Albania, Austria, France, Italy, and the United States. Then, Claus Dubisz gave a talk, “The 1987 CARP Rally in Berlin in its historical context,” which included an overview of what transpired 30 years ago and the stark reality of that time.
CARP alumni from all over Europe and the United States gave testimonies of their experiences from 1987. Several alumni came to the stage in tears, overcome by the intensity and sacrifices made 30 years ago. Participants had a chance in the afternoon to actually visit memorials where the Berlin Wall used to be at Check Point Charlie, a famous American post at that time.
The rest of the program continued in the afternoon with additional testimonies, performances, and the main address given by Professor Yeon Ah Moon, the wife of Hyo Jin Moon. She emphasized the vision and heart of True Parents, Father and Mother Moon, in wanting to bring one family under God, without any walls or divisions between people.
The following day, participants gathered for a Peace Road event and demonstration in the heart of Berlin. This signified the dream of having the world connected in peace. The theme of the gathering was “Peace Starts with Me” with an emphasis on achieving peace without violence.
Hard to Imagine
It’s really hard to imagine the despair and the battles fought at the Berlin Wall now, as new buildings have been constructed and people walk by on areas that were once off limits. I heard from people who were there in 1987 who could hardly believe it was the same place since so much had changed and developed.
Still, they will never forget. A line of bricks runs throughout the pavement of Berlin, signifying where the Wall used to stand, dividing East and West Berlin. There are still some parts of the Wall standing, used as memorials to honor the lives that were affected and taken because of this struggle.
Taking on the Mission of Reunification
The history of the Berlin Wall offers many lessons for us today. First, I learned that no wall can keep us apart – at least not for long. In 1987, most Berliners believed that the Berlin Wall would be there forever and became resigned to that dismal future. However, CARP always believed in and fought for peace – true peace – which can only come about when we are united together as one family under God, our Heavenly Parent.
In the end, the Berlin Wall came down and ushered in a new beginning for a united Germany. Today, in 2017, it’s hard to imagine a world where the Wall existed.
That’s where my second lesson came in: one day in the not so distant future, we will live in a world where it will be hard to imagine that walls ever existed. I so look forward to the celebration of the reunification of North and South Korea, which CARP members today see as their ‘Berlin Wall’ mission.
At present, there are many who believe that Korea will always be divided; yet, just like 30 years ago, CARP is committed to peace and reunification. We believe it’s possible and we believe we have a special role to play.
Who am I to Take This On?
As a Portuguese-American, I used to think, “what role or what difference could I have on another country?” What reason do I have to take on a mission of the reunification of North and South Korea, when I am not Korean myself?
That’s when I remembered the historic speech that the first World CARP President, Hyo Jin Moon, gave at the Berlin Wall in 1987. As a Korean who grew up in America, he was on the front line of the battle for the reunification of East and West Germany. He and countless others showed up to support peace and unification, regardless of where they were from.
This brings me to my third lesson: peace starts with me. It won’t happen as long as it’s “someone else’s job” to secure peace and prosperity. It won’t happen if I think of myself as small or insignificant. It won’t happen if I don’t create it, starting from myself first, and extending into my relationships with others.
All walls, whether internal or external, need to come down. That’s my commitment. I invite you join me in this movement for peace and as President Ronald Reagan said in 1987, “Tear down that wall!”
CARP LA students become inspired to start a new campus chapter.
Front left to right: Isaac Takeu, Joshua Yamamoto, Joshua Holmes, Ori Rodriguez; Back left to right: Harumi Muranaka, Maiko Shimogawara
On July 21, a new chapter officially launched on Cypress College as CARP Cypress. Operating under the larger branch of CARP Los Angeles, this new chapter provides a hub for those who live or attend universities south of the larger LA area.
This event not only contributes to CARP LA’s goal of opening seven chapters by December 2017, but starting CARP Cypress was also a major breakthrough for Joshua Holmes (21) and his team of five who made it happen.
The groundwork for CARP Cypress started in January 2017 when Joshua connected with Kodan, the parental advisor group for CARP LA, and started to share the Unification Principles with students on campus. He was paired with Kodan’s Maiko Shimogawara who will serve as the parental advisor to CARP Cypress.
To Joshua, this was a huge commitment. He is a part time student at Cypress College as well as a full time student at California State University, Long Beach, which are about ten miles apart. He would commute several days a week to talk to students about the Unification Principles, even just between classes. Finally, last April, Joshua felt he had enough foundation to establish a campus chapter.
The challenge didn’t end there. Despite his commitment to CARP and the need for this organization on campus, Joshua still held back.
Joshua and his small team of students and Kodan supporters set a goal to establish the chapter before the end of the spring semester. They needed to get 15 student signatures and one faculty advisor. Even though they got all the signatures, they could not get a professor on board within the last two months.
“Maiko-san [Japanese honorific] pushed me a lot, but I hesitated a lot.” – Joshua Holmes
Fortunately, they were able to at least cement a core team for CARP Cypress.
The Vice President of the chapter is Ori Rodriguez, who was introduced to CARP in September 2016 and was inspired by the Unification Principles. The other members of the team include Isaac Takeu, Joshua’s roommate, Harumi Muranaka, a transfer from CARP Pasadena in LA, and Jinka Kawasaki, a recent graduate of the gap year leadership training program called the Generation Peace Academy (GPA), which is a CARP-affiliated organization.
Mother Moon’s guidance during their trip abroad and then at the rally encouraged all the members of CARP Cypress to step up and take responsibility. Her sincere urging to all the young people to rise up and bring America to a new level of leadership for world peace moved their hearts. They determined CARP Cypress must be chartered in the upcoming fall semester.
“Individually, [when] we created a relationship with True Mother, we could center on the core vision [for CARP].” – Joshua Holmes
Following the exchange trip, Joshua and his team felt the call to unite with CARP’s vision and to step up back home.
With three days left of summer classes and very few professors around, the CARP Cypress members talked to every professor and received confirmations from not one but two professors in just two days.
As of this last task, they successfully finished all the requirements necessary to establish a CARP chapter on campus this fall.
During the recent CARP Momentum Leadership Retreat, Joshua and Ori were proud to share about their success and were further inspired by the success of other chapters. Two days after the retreat, the core team held their very first CARP Cypress meeting and marked it as their official start date.
Moving forward, CARP Cypress intends to unite with CARP America and CARP LA’s larger vision of reuniting North and South Korea peacefully as a path to world peace. Inspired by the Conference on the Reunification of North and South Korea and Father Moon’s ideas of peace, CARP America made the reunification an official goal during the Momentum retreat.
Joshua had some deep insights about this issue where he expressed that communism was not truly gone; it only changed its tactic. As it was originally CARP’s mission to overcome the anti-religious, tyrannical, and oppressive communism, it is important for CARP America to once again take up that flag.
CARP Cypress wants to raise the bar for its leaders, too. With many new up-and-coming chapters, CARP Cypress wants to go beyond what’s expected of them and to become one of the best chapters in the country. They also plan to create a network of professors and students, especially with the help of their faculty advisor.
“I feel CARP Cypress is going to be very popular on campus because we are striving to be very active with the student body along with the professors as well.” – Ori Rodriguez
In the meantime, until the end of summer, Joshua is focusing on strengthening the core team. Then, the members can stand with integrity in front of professors and students and share about the Unification Principles and the fight for world peace.