Here’s a student highlight story on Kenei Menning from the Iowa CARP chapter.
Meet Kenei, a young and motivated student learning to re-engage with the direction his life is going in. Kenei is finishing up his final credits for his teaching degree while already holding a degree in Mathematics. In addition to his studies, Kenei works at a drugstore and plays the piano for several churches (Catholic and United Methodist) in his area as well as at weddings and funerals.
Before his engagement to the beautiful Katie Howe and becoming involved with CARP in the past few months, Kenei was happy with his life and its direction, but felt he could do more.
Kenei with his fiancé, Katie Howe, on the streets of Seattle in mid-Sepetember.
“I graduated college, got a job and didn’t use my degree, which is not uncommon among recent graduates. It was a few years of drifting and going with the flow. But I realized I am not engaging myself to be active in my life’s direction.”
A combination of getting engaged and undertaking coaching with CARP helped Kenei realize he wanted to be better and more effective in his life and with his community.
Establishing a New Community
Instead of starting a campus CARP chapter, Kenei committed to creating an Iowa CARP chapter with fellow young 2nd generation Unificationists in Iowa’s small and spread out community. He has a vision for this chapter to provide community and a feeling of closeness to these college-aged students.
“When I was growing up, we never got to see each other except during summer camps. The demographic is older now and we need something to bring us together. The motivation is that a lot of people didn’t get to know a lot of other young Unificationists growing up. This memory of isolation is something I don’t want for the future.”
Camp Agape in Boone, IO with Kenei right above “Camp” in the banner.
One challenge to gathering people together is the distance as many community members live far away from one another. In an effort to bring together as many CARP members as possible, Kenei is aligning CARP chapter meetings with the statewide monthly potluck service the Unificationist community holds.
Reaching out and getting participants excited to come to the event has been the major obstacle, however, having anyone there is a goaland an accomplishment in itself.
The most recent Iowa Carp chapter gathering was held in the Cedar Falls Learning Center on the afternoon of December 4th after Sunday Service. There were five total participants although more were expected, but due to slick snow-covered road conditions from the ongoing weather, several expected participants were unable to attend.
However small they were, they were excited to be there. By the end of the meeting, the goals of feeling more connected with each other and being willing to open up had improved slightly.
As quoted by a participant: “The highlight of my week is to be here with you guys.” He’s already looking forward to the next gathering.
Finding Support in Unexpected Places
There are many resources out there for support if one is open to the opportunities. Kenei attended a young adult workshop in Minneapolis, MN last October hosted by David Young, one of CARP’s coaches. There, he was immersed in an energetic and motivated environment but he knew the feeling wouldn’t last. Signing up for the CARP coaching program would help him to keep on track with acting on his goals.
Minneapolis Young Adult event with Kenei in the middle behind his future coach, Neil Rischl.
“Coaching helped me get a lot of things in order. I always had a lot of ideas but never really implemented them. Having the weekly coaching sessions and knowing I could always ask my coach for help pushed me to the things I always wanted to.”
One of Kenei’s passions is to establish greater communication and connection between young members of his community. So, he established a reason for young college-aged members to meet up and hold authentic discussions with the Iowa CARP chapter.
“Starting the chapter opened up resources I wasn’t even aware of.”
Some of the 1st generation Unificationist members could align themselves with Kenei’s vision and now he has support from his larger community as well. Kenei is supported by the local Pastor Swearson and district Pastor Ha who also met with CARP’s coaches at one time and is able to support Kenei with whatever he needs.
Reverend Swearson, pastor of the state of Iowa, at the God’s Hope for America tour 2015.
Do More than Selling Drugs
With the support of his community and coaching, Kenei was empowered to establish an avenue for community engagement while also finishing his teaching degree and preparing more for a new kind of life with Katie.
“I am aspiring to do better and get a job doing more than selling drugs (pharmaceutical products).”
Kenei and Katie at the Windemere House, Seattle.
By engaging with the community, Kenei is growing his capabilities to serve and truly apply the Unification Principles from establishing genuine relationships to facilitating meaningful discussions around values. Starting with his community engagement, Kenei hopes to contribute on a larger scale by connecting young adults in the district and ultimately in shaping the larger society.
We are proud of Kenei’s victories thus far and encourage him to continue to ENGAGE in his life and with his (future) wife!
Here’s a student highlight story on Joshua Holmes from CARP L.A.
Meet 20-year-old Josh. He’s in his freshman year at California State University, Long Beach pursuing a degree in Business at this time. Coming off two years in the Generation Peace Academy (GPA) program and hailing from the vibrant CARP L.A. community, Josh participated in a CARP Momentum workshop this past summer and launched his first year as a college student with determinationand positivity.
As a contemplative, passionate, and loyal young man, Josh expresses a lot through his words. His love for public speaking is intertwined with his enthusiasm for studying and applying Unification Principles in creative ways.”
Getting Involved to Stay Connected
For many transitioning students, whether from high school or a gap year to college, it can be challenging to start this new chapter in life. Keeping this in mind, Josh was determined from the start of this school year to maintain an energetic and positive attitude toward his future and his passions.
“This past half year has been one of the most impactful in my life.”
What’s the secret to feeling this impact? Josh gets involved – in his community and on his campus. Once a week, Josh helps with the CARP L.A. witnessing initiative at Pasadena City College (a successful project spearheaded by a wonderful sister of the community, Naoko Hiraki). With his community’s youth ministry, he takes on an active role in facilitating weekly Principle study with the youth while also helping to host monthly 3-day workshops called Junction.
Josh (in the middle) with the youth at a Junction workshop
On campus, Josh is seeking out opportunities to become active and vocal. He speaks up in his classes and in his extracurricular activities, such as in his theater pursuits, with the intention of expressing his voice at the table and introducing even a fraction of the Unification Principles. Next semester, Josh will be joining the debate club on his campus to specifically present a case against “Christian stigmatism toward cults in America”.
Getting involved challenges Josh to put into practice what he loves and knows to be true – Unification Principles. He especially loves to practice public speaking as a form of educating.
“I want to always be someone who educates. That’s what connects me to God and to the Principles. I want to be someone who can be called on to teach. Any chance to practice and express this, I jump on it. It’s what drives me.”
Josh practicing public speaking to a youth audience
Josh has a passion. His goal is to harness that passion for teaching in public by developing creative and compelling strategies in his public speaking for different audiences.
Coaching Is Not About the Coach
In an effort to stay even more connected to his goals, Josh has been undergoing CARP’s coaching program for the past two months. A scheduled weekly appointment with his coach has helped Josh to stay focused on his goals as he redetermined to achieve them every week with the benefit of an accountability factor.
“Coaching has helped me to not get lazy, lost, or confused and to stay on track in the direction I want to go in.”
Another benefit of coaching for Josh has been the emphasis on building habits. Simple habits like exercising daily and practicing public speaking are essential for Josh to maintain a healthy lifestyle and pursue his passion. However, the most important habit-building has been to consistently be honest with himself by communicating honestly with his coach.
“The coach is there to help me be objective. I have to look at myself objectively and be honest with where I am and what I have done. It’s sad sometimes, but it’s a beautiful habit that actually helps me grow and improve.”
The coach doesn’t tell you what to do. The coach doesn’t even need to have experienced the same things as you. Instead, the coach is there to ask the right question over and over again. This coaching pushes Josh to extend himself and “hit the wall” rather than go around it so that he can learn, grow, and improve.
Attitude Makes All the Difference
Josh is a rock star who strives to speak the truth to the public and to himself. By seeking out opportunities to get involved, Josh is putting in the hours of practice it will take to become a skilled public speaker as well as a student of the Unification Principles. Coaching is helping Josh to stay focused as he monitors his development in an honest and constructive way.
CARP is inspired by Josh’s positive and determined attitude toward his own development. Finally, it’s this attitude that has spearheaded Josh to practice and share Unification Principles with any audience he encounters.
Josh with his sister and parents
We reached out to Josh’s parents for their input on his awesome growth and they expressed gratitude and support for Josh’s activities.
“Thank you for the kind words and great program. Yes, we want to support him in his desire to be active with CARP and guiding younger members of the community. While we are investing much more into academics, we would say the CARP mentoring is of even greater value.” – Josh’s parents
Here’s a student highlight from one of the CARP chapters in Boston.
This is Kimi, a motivated and bubbly junior studying Mechanical Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She’s the student of the week because of her determination to overcome challenges, no matter what might come up.
. This fall semester, Kimi was inspired to start a chapter at her university. But, she’s hit a few roadblocks with the university in registering to become a student club.
“It’s been difficult. There are times when I just felt like I didn’t want to do it, to be honest. I just didn’t want to deal with it because I felt like it shouldn’t be this hard. There were all these challenges with protocol; to do it right, I have to complete the paperwork.”
However, while she was working out the registration, she still found a way to meet with her CARP chapter – at a local coffee shop! We’re proud of her for moving forward in the face of difficulties and challenges. Her victory has been to consistently work hard (even on something that seems difficult) and still establish a chapter.
“The main thing keeping me going is just doing it. Whether I believe I can or not, I just set it up and do it. Even though I had my first meeting, it didn’t go perfectly but I did it. I feel like that is the most important thing. It’s not how I imagined it to be but it’s a process. There are definitely times I want to give up. There are many times I don’t feel confident in myself as a leader. But there is always something in my life, that pushes me to move forward and a part of my heart that tells myself I cannot give up. And I realize now that I’m a lot farther than I would have been if I hadn’t done anything.”
She’s been flexible. Kimi’s leadership skills shined through in her willingness to work through the challenges. As a CARP leader, she has had access to one-on-one coaching which has helped her work through difficulties. Many inspired students have tried to do what Kimi only to become overwhelmed with some of the challenges that arise. Kimi’s success wasn’t an easy one, but her determination and CARP’s support allowed her to reach her goal of starting a campus chapter.
Kimi, along with other CARP members, will be gathering this Saturday, November 19, for Boston CARP’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Hear more stories like Kimi’s at the event. Learn more and register at www.carplife.org/boston50years