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.
From July 16-18, 50 CARP leaders from 12 different chapters across America and abroad gathered at the Belvedere Training Center in Tarrytown, New York, for the 2017 CARP “Momentum” Leadership Retreat. The purpose of this retreat was to establish a connection between chapter leaders, determine a direction as a National CARP team, and prepare for the upcoming school year.
Teresa Rischl, President of CARP America shared,
“We chose the theme ‘Momentum’ because we wanted to inherit and carry on the energy from True Mother’s historic speech at Madison Square Garden on July 15. This summer we had several big initiatives, including the Japan-Korea Trip and CARP Las Vegas’ 40-day Actionizing Road Trip, that led up to the event at Madison Square Garden.
This was the main reason that we came together and it united all the different chapters around the country to come together as one. I wanted to make sure that our CARP leaders had the chance to reflect on and digest all of these amazing experiences so we could go back out stronger and clearer than ever before.”
Although it was a mere two and a half days, the leaders were educated, empowered, and motivated to make CARP a driving force of change this fall semester. Following the “Peace Starts With Me” rally where CARP co-founder Mother Moon gave a momentous speech promoting peace at this time, the students were inspired to contribute in their own way.
The first day, participants shared about their accomplishments as chapters from this past year, setting a precedent for even bigger and better success in the future. Then, they heard from CARP alumna and current advisor for CARP LA, Naoko Hiraki, about her journey through CARP and the deep purpose that CARP was created for.
The next day, each of the 12 chapters discussed their current activities and status. Despite the fact that some chapters are well-established and some are just starting out, all the leaders were inspired and encouraged by the progress made by other chapters.
“Hearing all the chapter reports … gave me so much hope to see all that is going on in our CARP movement everywhere and celebrating each other’s collective victory. I definitely learned and inherited from gaining various perspectives.” – Junta Naito
In the afternoon, the leaders received practical guidance from Tasnah Moyer, the National Young Adult Ministry Coordinator for Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, using the quote by Father Moon, “Before I can lead others, I need to lead myself.” She provided easy steps on how to develop positive daily habits for internal growth and how to make a contribution with these habits. This talk gave the leaders an opportunity to reflect on their current spiritual health and how they can make adjustments to center themselves daily.
“Tasnah’s talk helped me to be honest with myself, especially leading into being a chapter president, [by] asking myself and reflecting on the areas where I fall short or lack integrity in.” – Joshua Holmes
After a long day of listening, CARP leaders were given an opportunity to go on a prayer walk around the expansive grounds of the Belvedere Training Center (where Father and Mother Moon have trained numerous leaders in the past) to meditate and pray about the future for themselves as leaders and for CARP as an organization. This time was valuable for the leaders because many of them felt overwhelmed by the constant grind and the looming task before them back on their respective campuses. Through this exercise, they were able to clear their minds and recommit to the larger goal for CARP.
“My highlight…was the prayer time we had. After hearing all these reports and results and testimonies from America, I could broaden my vision also for Europe and through sharing this with God, I had a strong sense of hope for Europe.” – Christiane Beutl
On the last day, CARP LV’s advisor, Akira Watanabe, guided the leaders on what kind of heart and motivation they should have when investing in CARP. With some humorous anecdotes, Mr. Akira’s talk encouraged the participants to think about the quality of their investment.
“[Mr. Akira’s talk] really helped me to have confidence in myself [and have] the heart of wanting to do something with my life to honor everyone who has sacrificed and invested into a kid (me) that was once lost with no direction.” – Masato Takahairo
Finally, chapters were given the time to plan and create action steps for the new year. All the leaders, whether part of well-established chapters or not, held lively discussions and made concrete plans for the future.
The energy in the room was vibrant and palpable as chapter leaders discussed their plans within their chapter and with others. It was even more touching when participants decided to use their meal break and free time to continue to meet together. They wanted to discuss what they could do together as a unified national CARP team. Since many of the leaders participated in the recent International Exchange Trip to Japan and Korea, where they attended a Conference on the Reunification of North and South Korea, these young leaders were inspired to make tangible steps towards supporting this cause with their CARP counterparts in Japan and Korea.
“The highlight of this retreat was being able to come together as CARP leaders from around the world and America. I felt for the first time that we are all fighting for the same vision and working together…I appreciate the time to share with one another, give and inherit, and inspire each other. There was so much power we generated together.” – Kailey Teo
Yuri Kaneko then led a session on how to share CARP’s vision with peers and professors on campus. It was coupled with a role-playing exercise on how to share the meaning of CARP with someone in just a minute.
“[The activity] was exciting and comfortable because we could practice with each other first. We knew how difficult it could be to do this in real life so this gave us a chance to challenge ourselves as a family. This was very hands-on activity and we got to learn to teach others about what might occur on campus.” – Jay Gonzalez
The retreat concluded with determinations, reflections, and testimonies showcasing each leader’s growth and dedication to the CARP. The participants developed a close bond of heart with their CARP brothers and sisters from around the nation. During the retreat, participants met in groups of people from different communities and chapters, which created a space of discovery and learning. These groups will continue to check-in with these mixed teams on a weekly basis to keep the momentum going. These leaders showed conviction and passion despite the challenges ahead – this attitude will continue to guide them in leading their chapters, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.
Group photo in front of the CARP Korea Headquarters
From June 19th to July 4th, over 120 American CARP students participated in the second annual International Exchange Trip to Korea and Japan.
The very first international exchange trip took place in the spring of 2016. This initiative was started by a CARP-affiliated women’s group called Kodan in the Los Angeles area who hoped this trip would be an opportunity for the local CARP chapter members to develop leadership skills, discover CARP’s roots in Japan and Korea, and build relationships with international CARP members.
This year’s trip was a success and opened up opportunities for the future. The big takeaways were experiencing Father and Mother Moon’s heart and vision for CARP, the young people, and the world and fostering unity between the three countries of Japan, Korea, and America.
Rev. Nakamura lecturing at the 2-day Divine Principle Workshop
This year, participants spent eight total days in Japan and roughly four days in Korea. The trip opened with a 2-day Divine Principle workshop with content focused on the essence of the Divine Principle and the meaning and value of the marriage Blessing.
Mr. Nakamura gave the lectures and clearly explained the principled lifestyle and true families. Through these lectures, the participants gained a deeper understanding of the heart of God and how to develop healthy and lasting relationships.
“I learned a lot about the main principles from the Divine Principle. I learned that relationships and love ensure a better life for a person, and that true love is sacrificing yourself to your significant other just as God did. I appreciate everything that God has done to ensure a better life for all of humanity and I feel the hardships that He goes through when something goes wrong in His plan.” – Daniel
“I never realized how much True Mother had to sacrifice in her life with True Father, and it made me feel so grateful that God, True Parents, and my own parents have paid so much indemnity for the life that I have now. I also learned that without actual effort, you will never attain true happiness.” – Leo
American students enjoying a Japanese bento box lunch
After the two-day workshop, the participants went on a pilgrimage to Waseda University, following in Father Moon’s footsteps – the place he lived, the path he traveled, the prison he was sent to, and finally the university he attended. This experience opened up a path to understand Father’s past.
“It was cool to see where [True Father] was coming from. It was inspiring to see how he had to go through so much and then shared how he overcame.” – Benjamin
Fifteen of the participants experienced witnessing on Waseda’s campus. They invited students of the university to the CARP event, International Borderless Conference, where four CARP members spoke – two from CARP Japan, or J-CARP, and two from CARP America.
J-CARP representative giving a speech on his dreams at the 1st International Borderless Conference at Waseda University
A total of 15 new guests showed up at the event. They were inspired by the content and some even began studying the Divine Principle, which showcased to the participants how CARP can positively impact people. They could see the importance and necessity of CARP.
The next day, an exchange program was held between J-CARP and CARP America with presentations and testimonies, culminating in a homestay for the American students at the Japanese CARP houses to experience CARP Japan’s lifestyle.
Sharing experiences and a similar living space helped to bridge the cultural gap between the two CARP groups and foster new relationships.
Sightseeing and spending time with CARP Japan students in Tokyo
The leaders of J-CARP and CARP America met on June 26, exchanging plans and insights to build better CARP programs on both fronts. This was an inspiring exchange.
“I feel like the one thing that we lack is ambition to [J-CARP’s] degree. The one thing I felt we could absolutely inherit from them is that conviction. That’s something that America can inherit. Moving forward [for CARP L.A.], the first step is working on a clear, logical direction and model for what that CARP chapter is going to look like.” – Joshua
Leaders from CARP Japan and CARP America gathered to share best practices and learn from each other
Upon arrival to Korea, CARP America participated in a pilgrimage to Beomnetgol, Father Moon’s first church (also referred to as the” mud hut”), and Cheong Pa Dong, the first headquarters church. Witnessing Father and Mother Moon’s humble beginnings moved many participants to realize how much they sacrificed for the world.
“An amazing experience was being able to go to [Cheong Pa Dong] which was my first time…. I remember the pastor there telling us how True Father was praying floods of tears until the floors were wet and seeping through the other side. When I heard that, I was able to understand even a little how big Father’s heart was for this world. This pilgrimage helped me realize deeper God’s goal for the future.” – Ikusei
Staff members at the Rock of Tears in Busan
The participants then attended the 2017 International Collegiate Symposium for the Reunification of the Korean Peninsula at the Korean Congress building. Three representative students from CARP Japan, Korea, and America gave speeches on the importance of peaceful reunification. It was inspiring to see all three countries coming together to tackle this very crucial issue that was also dear to Father’s heart.
Afterwards, CARP America held an exchange program with CARP Korea to share, bond, and inspire each other to be their best self.
CARP America representatives giving a speech on the importance of North and South Korea Reunification
Finally, the culmination of the trip was meeting Mother Moon at the Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Palace. First, they were led to Father Moon’s resting place, Ponyangwon, for a prayer. From mud hut to palace in the presence of Father and Mother Moon, the participants were moved to tears and made determinations to work even harder from this point on.
“Visiting True Father’s grave allowed me to experience a deeply spiritual experience. I felt a tangible presence of the man who gave me everything; the man who instilled within me purpose and faith…. but then I realized that he was not at peace. Not until all of God’s children come home can Father be at peace. In this moment, I understood that fulfilling his mission is the only thing that will bring about joy to God, True Parents, and all of humankind.” – Ryusei
“I was holding in tears because of the emotional experience this trip has been. The love in the room was definitely there…. In that moment, I was filled with love that can last a lifetime.” – Darius
“Seeing True Mother in person allowed me to see the love that she has for humanity infinitely more clear than her portraits ever will. Today when visiting both Father and Mother, I felt a strong spiritual presence that I have only ever felt in my life when I was closest to God. I am looking for answers within my heart, and I won’t give up on the Divine Principle until I find what I’m looking for.” – David
CARP America posing with Mother Moon at the Peace Palace
Before the participants packed up to return home, they made determinations within their CARP chapters to create or expand their CARP chapters. Everyone was motivated to set goals and achieve them, even shouting them out loud for their fellow participants to hear.
All 120+ participants experienced one global family. With newfound determination and fond memories with CARP Japan and Korea, each participant is ready to go back to their communities and achieve more until the next year’s trip!
After more than a week in Korea, the trip participants were ready to head back to Japan. They packed their stuff and all headed out to Incheon International Airport where their flight was waiting. Despite the exhaustion of travelling, the participants were buzzing with excitement and used the last bit of travel as a buffer into their next adventure.
After the many inspirations and blessings everyone had received throughout this trip, we took some time to separate into CARP chapters to make determinations and goals! Everyone felt strongly to build up their CARP chapters or even to start a chapter at a new campus to further True Parents’ vision. Larger and more experienced chapters held lengthy discussions about how to incorporate their experiences into the new year.
Not only did this serve as a bonding experience, but all chapters and individuals had a chance to reflect as well.
J-CARP also came to teach the MuJoGeon dance to CARP America who were asked by True Mother to perform at theMadison Square Garden event on July 15. Learning the dance in just a few hours was a challenge, but they managed it well and performed it for President Tokuno and President Motoyama and his wife later that day. While they thoroughly enjoyed themselves, President Tokuno asked CARP America to continue to practice so that it will be at the “completion level” during the final performance.
Afterward, CARP America performed at an Open Mic night as part of the last full night together as a trip.
After a long two weeks of sharing ideas, values, and other internal guidance, the students from America could have a fun-filled day at Disneyland! They split into groups and enjoyed the attractions and rides and bought many souvenirs. They even performed MuJoGeon in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
Our closing ceremony was not without tears as everyone said good-bye to one another and gave gifts of appreciation to their staff. Naoko Hiraki gave a testimony about her experience in CARP and gave words of encouragment in our coming year. We sincerely thank everyone who supported us and encouraged us along this trip including parents, educators, donors, and friends. We hope this trip has inspired all the students from both continents and we hope to bring an even stronger determination into the next semester!
During our stay in Korea, we stayed at the Hyo Jeong Cheon Won Training Center (formerly known as the Cheong Pyeong Training Center). The peaceful atmosphere was refreshing and participants were able to take time to meditate and pray. In the morning, we went up to the Tree of Blessing to pray and reflect. We also heard a lecture from Mr. In Pyo Moon about how the spirit world works.
CARP America was incredibly blessed to meet with Mother Moon on this trip. Initially intended to be just a pilgrimage to the Cheon Jeong Gung Peace Palace, Mother Moon invited us to a luncheon together with her since she wanted to meet the American students.
The K-CARP President had told Naoko Hiraki what an incredible blessing it was. Usually, Mother Moon does not meet members unless they number in the 1000’s, but she wanted to meet our mere 120 students in an intimate setting in her home.
When she came to see us, Mother Moon opened with words of love strongly urging the American students to fulfill America’s responsibility in recognizing and providing an environment for True Parents. She shared that although she wanted to praise us, she felt she needed to focus on pushing us forward to finish God’s providence in America. CARP America shouted with agreement.
During the lunch, we ate Heaven G Burger and sat with Mother Moon while CARP America gave presentations about CARP including personal testimonies from Jermaine Bishop and Naoko Hiraki and a few words from CARP America President, Teresa Rischl. Afterwards, CARP performed for Mother Moon with such sincerity that many tears flowed from the CARP students.
“It was my dream to perform Hyo Shim for True Mother.” – Hana Kitamura
Afterwards, Mother Moon treated us with Apple Heaven’s performances, like a personal concert, that had everyone in high spirits. We ended the day with a commemorative photo and a promise to triple our membership next year.
Thank you to True Parents for this wonderful opportunity. We love you!