Junior Leadership Task Force Workshop 2018

Junior Leadership Task Force Workshop 2018

High School students from across the United States traveled to the wilderness of Montana to participate in Family Peace Association’s annual leadership training program, Jr. Leadership Task Force, through July and August.

Out here surrounded by mountains, trees, and the clear sky above, there are nearly no human traces. There are not the distractions of our everyday lives back in our homes— TV, music, our phones, computers, or whatever causes us to forget about time, and indulge ourselves in something where we forget about the concept of time. But time is very important, because unlike other materialistic, physical entities, time cannot be replaced. So taking this time from our busy schedules gives us time to clear our body and mind. With no electricity, you wake with the sun and sleep with the moon, like our ancestors did. And at night, up on the mountains, hundreds of stars light up the sky, a sight rare to see back home. You become connected with our original selves, and you come to wonder how we ever forgot about the beauty around ourselves in the world. Kent (16) from Seattle

Preconceptions lead to a mind full of doubt, hopelessness and fear. Nobody knows when the sun will shine, or if it will rain. However, the presence of Shimjung (a Korean word for an impulse to unconditionally give love) has the power to become that one striking beam of light to bring hope, motivation, and success. My friend and I went from door to door in an unfamiliar town of Montana to see if anybody would like to join us in a service project in their community. My mind was mixed with determination and doubt, especially at a place that I have never been to. However, my challenges were meant to be overcome because I wanted to give my sincerity for others to experience the opportunity of selfless service. I saw faces of smiles, expressions and thoughts of consideration, gratitude towards our heart, and the desire to also give back. That Shimjung I saw in people gave me hope and became my light within the darkness. Joo (17) from California

Reflective Leaders Raise the Bar and Achieve Goals

Reflective Leaders Raise the Bar and Achieve Goals

The process of learning from our mistakes is an essential part of growth and development. This applies no matter what age you are and whatever career you pursue. Whether a student or follower and especially as a teacher or leader, self-reflection is a process that nurtures us to grow mentally and spiritually.

But how many people actually want to set aside time for reflection? The process is not an easy one. For some people, they don’t like what they may view as a slow, time-consuming process. Some just don’t like what they see. It is far easier to acknowledge our strengths than address our weaknesses. Instead of becoming too defensive, we can acknowledge our weaknesses, bring a positive attitude to the table, and understand the lessons to be learned. This is how change and growth happens. We have the power to reframe a mindset of being judged for our weakness into a positive mindset of growth and the opportunity to be better.

Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan in July 1888

Teachers especially can attest to the importance of reflection in order to address the needs of their students. Good teachers are good at reflecting; they are good learners. Anne Sullivan was a young but bright and ambitious teacher. At only twenty years of age, she would become the teacher of the famous Helen Keller, a deaf and blind child who would go on to be the first deaf-blind person to receive a bachelor of arts degree, becoming an author, world-famous speaker, and political activist. Helen was a stubborn and difficult child but the reflective process of her teacher would prove to be an essential part of her achievements later in life.

Sullivan herself was visually impaired, but her determination and ability to reflect on her methods meant that she would be able to make significant breakthroughs with the confused and frustrated child. She described a pivotal moment in her teaching experience and sent her reflection to a friend in the form of a letter.

Sullivan had been working to find a solution to a frustrating problem for Helen who was struggling to understand the words “mug” and “milk,” often confusing it with the verb “drink.” Helen didn’t even know the word for “drink,” but motioned the act of drinking when she spelled “mug” or “milk.”

One day it dawned on Sullivan to connect the concept of sign language with the physical objects around Helen by having her touch the items with one hand as Sullivan spelled the name of the object in her other hand.

Photo of Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller in the broadway play The Miracle Worker. In this scene, Miss Sullivan tries to teach Helen the meaning of “water”.

We went out to the pump-house, and I made Helen hold her mug under the spout while I pumped. As the cold water gushed forth, filling the mug, I spelled “w-a-t-e-r” in Helen’s free hand. The word coming so close upon the sensation of cold water rushing over her hand seemed to startle her. She dropped the mug and stood as one transfixed. A new light came into her face.

From that point on, Sullivan and her pupil progressed leaps and bounds in teaching the girl how to use Braille and communicate with the world around her. It wasn’t easy. Both student and teacher faced many challenges and frustrations along the way. However, taking that time to reflect instead of constantly, stubbornly pushing in one direction or just giving up, was the conscious, decisive action that made learning possible. It may seem to “slow things down” but looking forward, it actually allowed progress to be made faster, more efficiently, and with fewer tears down the road.

An article by Harvard Business Review said employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect. Similarly, a study of commuters in the UK found that those who were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were “happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.”

Put simply, reflection is that pause we take in the chaos of our everyday lives to sort through, acknowledge, and find meaning in our experiences. The time and place we choose to do this may look different for each person but the good news is that there are many ways to make reflection a part of your lifestyle, whether it is in a journal, thinking in the car during your commute, or going out into the best classroom there is: nature.

Do you reflect? If not, how can you start making time for reflection today?

Founding Value of Service in America Inspires Global Citizenship

Founding Value of Service in America Inspires Global Citizenship

Sometimes called the melting pot of all nations, America’s founding principles and shared values have enabled it to embrace diverse cultures and religions while maintaining some social cohesion. Its Declaration of Independence states that God the Creator grants all people inalienable rights. At the same time, it calls for each person to live their lives for a greater purpose because every person’s value and equal rights are given to us from a source greater than ourselves.

These founding values have formed the spirit of service based on human rights and the opportunity to build a culture and a society that transcends the  barriers of race, religion, and other divisions to find common ground in fundamental rights, the ideal of freedom, and to serve those who could not protect those freedoms for themselves.

The founding fathers of America recognized just how important these fundamental freedoms were. They willingly put their very lives on the line to protect the values that would be later articulated as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The original phrase was “life, liberty, and property.” However, it was rewritten to the more appropriate “pursuit of happiness,” which conveys the spiritual pursuit of all humanity.

The pursuit of happiness rests not on the aspiration of one individual but depends on relationships founded on virtues. Happiness cannot be achieved alone; it is found only in dynamic relationships. It is a collective effort between people and within the family. Some of the most charitable efforts, from alleviating poverty to responding to natural disasters, are motivated by this spiritual pursuit of happiness.

It is this same spirit of service that motivates many military personals in the United States to champion human rights for all people, not just their own nation. This spirit of selfless service is what inspires service women and men to get up every day, train, and work hard to not only protect the fundamental freedom of all people but to protect the ability to create a culture of values, raising healthy families with the potential to pursue happiness. In many ways, it is the legacy of the American story – “the pursuit of happiness” for all people.

Jeremy Graham sharing his insights on service based on America’s Declaration of Independence.

Jeremy is a serviceman who shared his testimony at a recent Family Peace Association family workshop. As a husband, father, graduate student, and Captain in the United States Army, the values he strives to build up in his own family are the same values that gives him the motivation and passion to serve his country, willing to even lay down his life to protect fundamental human rights and the founding ideals that made America a melting pot of people and cultures from every other nation around the world.

“I absolutely love the United States of America. I love the concept our founders had of establishing a government built on values and I am humbled and hopeful in our responsibility to make our founders’ vision work.”

Jeremy emphasized the importance of values in creating a culture when he reflected on his time as a cadet where “duty, honor, country” were the guiding values and the direction to cadets was to “not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” These values created a culture where people aspired to live up to higher ideals. With the creation of the Declaration of Independence, the founders outlined fundamental principles and values to inspire a standard of individual and collective responsibility that is essential to our success as a nation. A values-based culture creates the capacity in people to make higher ideals a reality in everyday life.

There are ideals and values, like the sense of service to humanity, that is bigger than any one nation or organization. They are universal. Global citizenship is something all of us can practice with every generation as we continue the legacy of service through our families and communities around the world.

Jeremy spoke at a recent workshop hosted by Family Peace Association USA, organized by a high school student for his Boy Scout Eagle Project. The workshop explored universal principles of the American founding and how they might apply to global citizenship.

I Came Here for a Purpose Greater Than Myself.

I Came Here for a Purpose Greater Than Myself.

Namsik Yoo was excited to join a yearlong leadership program after graduating high school in the United States. Throughout the year he would travel around the world to places like Korea, Philippines, Columbia and Nepal. It was in Nepal that he would learn a valuable lesson in serving others not just as a “nice thing” to do, but an essential quality of becoming a life-long leader.

Leadership Task Force (LTF) provides opportunities for young adults to practice and develop skills that will help them become leaders in their families and communities when they return home after the one-year program. Service projects are a major component of helping LTF participants reflect on their own spiritual growth and put their goals into action.

Raising funds for the project in Nepal.

Namsik and his LTF family didn’t just show up one day at the doors of Nepalese children and families in need. It required a lot of preparation and organization, all of which him and his team were responsible for. This included fundraising for building materials and coming up with activities for community bonding before even taking the flight to Nepal.

“Whenever I was going through a hardship during fundraising, I would always tell myself to think about the children who are waiting for us in Nepal,” said Namsik. “Whenever planning out the activities with my team members, I would keep asking myself, ‘What do the Nepali people need?’”

Namsik didn’t just want to lift and move objects in a one-time service project; he wanted to come up with specific solutions to the hardships facing Nepalese families in remote areas affected by natural disasters. More importantly, Namsik wanted to help foster a sense of community, a family-bond, to transform others and himself in the process. He learned the importance of becoming an owner of change. The process of serving others starts long before getting your hands dirty. It starts inside yourself.

Namsik being welcomed by elementary school students in Parapakar.

“If I had just gone to Nepal with everything already prepared and I had not done anything before coming, then there would be nothing I could offer besides some small service work and making friends. Most importantly, without internally preparing myself, I would not be able to contribute in allowing the people we meet to feel any sort of transformation. The fundraising that we did was not just simply raising money to support the activities we will be doing in Nepal, and the project planning was not just simply organizing the activities, but this was a process of putting sincere effort into something greater than ourselves.”

 

Teen Talk: “It’s so important to have the right motivation of heart.”

Teen Talk: “It’s so important to have the right motivation of heart.”

Sumika might be a shy high school student, but during her time on Jr. Leadership Task Force, her insights on spiritual growth demonstrated that character and a mature perspective are what count when it comes to learning about being a leader.

Jr. LTF is preliminary program for young adults who may go on to participate in Leadership Task Force, designed by Family Peace Association to provide participants with a unique international experience that develops spiritual growth and lessons on leadership to carry into their families, communities, and nations.

Sumika talks about having a higher perspective during leadership program

During the summer Jr. LTF program, Sumika had the goal to “take on a higher perspective.” Her introverted tendencies once made it difficult to break out of her comfort zone to approach people and share about the service project she would be going on to participate in later that summer in Indonesia. However, she shared how she was able to overcome her challenges saying, “I wanted to have a positive attitude and be motivated by the aspiration to live for the sake of others. I realized that by having humility and gratitude, I could think from a different perspective outside my own. It is so important to have the right motivation of heart.”

As Sumika has expressed, when developing leadership capacities in young people, it is essential to instill values that drive them to come up with solutions that may not primarily benefit themselves, but rather be motivated by a greater good. By thinking of the people she is serving, Sumika could look outside only what made her comfortable and reach a new level of maturity that gave her a glimpse into what she called “God’s perspective.”

Teen Talk: “It is only through challenge that we grow.”

Teen Talk: “It is only through challenge that we grow.”

Piljin is a new high school graduate who participated in a five-day fundraising campaign to pay his way through Family Peace Association’s leadership program for young adults. His story is one of challenge, leadership and maturity that gave him what he called “spiritual strength” to grow as a brother in his family and a leader in his community.

Piljin’s fundraising experience proved to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of his young life. He describes the process of fundraising as a “mental challenge.”

Piljin expresses his gratitude to his family as a high school graduate and participant in Jr. Leadership Task Force

“We talked about challenges throughout the week, but it’s only through challenge that we grow. In one sense, I’d like to believe that overcoming challenge during the fundraising allowed me to see the people and the area I live in from a new perspective.”

Every day in transit between his home and school, Piljin crosses paths with many people, typically without a word. But by fundraising, he was put into a position where he could share why he cared to be a part of a leadership program in the first place.

“When you’re out there, you’re conveying your beliefs to complete strangers. When you’re talking to people you have to explain your beliefs and values. Opportunities like that, bottom line, are good chances to grow. It helps affirm your beliefs, conviction, motivation and faith.”

When it comes to leadership development, character, values and a healthy life of faith are all part of becoming a leader who can use their conviction and determination to help other people.

“Fundraising is definitely a spiritual, internal exercise,” said Piljin. “Through challenges you’re able to learn and grow and figure out where you stand and be honest with yourself.”

Jr. Leadership Task Force offers a summer program, providing middle and high school students the opportunity to participate in a unique experience of spiritual growth and lessons on leadership they can carry into their families, schools and communities.