The “Tomodachi Initiative”

/30 – Today we heard a presentation on the Tomodachi Initiative. It is a public-private partnership that invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs. Their goal is to raise young American and Japanese leaders who are passionate about strengthening U.S. and Japan relations. They want to encourage young people to appreciate other cultures and possess the global skills needed to contribute to and thrive in a more cooperative, prosperous, and secure world.

When I asked Mrs. Hiraki about her vision for meeting up with this organization, she explained the possibility for cooperation. “Many people from different backgrounds are sponsoring and donating to this organization. They are very similar to CARP in that they want to raise global leaders and train them to serve the world. Our hope is that we can cooperate with them, and share our vision with them. If this organization can become one with CARP’s vision and goal, then we can do many activities together and make an even greater impact on our nations.”

The Tomodachi Initiative was established by the government and there is a branch in Washington D.C. connected to Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. We wrote her a letter with greetings from all of us.

“I was amazed to see another organization with a vision that is very similar to CARP’s vision. It would be great to work with them.” – Jennifer

We also saw a live Mario Cart race on the road!

We also saw a live Mario Cart race on the road!

Food is Love

The Chairman of the Blessed Families Federation, Rev. Yong-cheon Song, took our group out to a Japanese buffet restaurant for lunch. There is no better present than an all-you-can-eat Japanese meal for a bunch of young people. The selections and choices were incredible; there were at least 15 different kinds of raw meat that you can cook on the grill at your table, as well as sushi, soups, udon, ice cream, and you could even make your own cotton candy. For many, this was a new and fun experience and we had no hesitation in going back for more. 

We were treated to a special lunch and gifts from the Rev. Song and leaders from Japan. Thank you!

We were treated to a special lunch and gifts from the Rev. Song and leaders from Japan. Thank you!

Everyone left the restaurant full and satisfied. However, there was more to come. Rev. Song and his wife personally handed out presents to our group. They gave us scented fans with beautiful, unique designs. All the students were moved by the kindness of Rev. Song and determined to work even harder the remaining days of this trip.

“We don’t need any money to smile.”

In the evening, Mr. Otsuka, the Continental Director of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) North-East Europe, came to share some words of inspiration with us.

     “In the past, I worked with CARP in Japan so much that some people called me ‘Mr. J-CARP.’ I have visited 63 countries so far for the sake of realizing God’s dream. I want to invite you to the country of Russia to meet the students there. I invited you so I’m expecting that you will come to Russia!  We have to become one so that we can bring good fortune to both countries.”

He continued on saying, “There is no freedom in the country of Russia. It is not easy to create our own activities, but recently, we opened a new outreach center for CARP. No matter how difficult it is, we have to be more aggressive and take on the challenge. America’s best characteristic is their challenging spirit. I told the Russian members, ‘don’t forget your challenging spirit and always smile!’ The best present you can give to someone is a smile. We don’t need any money to smile. Just smile.

“True Parents have a deep parental heart. If you want to meet True Parents and understand them, you need to not only understand heaven, but also understand hell. I encourage you to take the more difficult path, not the easy path. We can deepen our heart and feel the love of God.”

We ended by singing “Saranghae” (a Korean song that translates to ‘We love you’) to Mr. Otsuka and his wife. Then he asked us to sing “You are my sunshine” and joined in as we clapped and sang our hearts out.

“I really felt True Father’s spirit through Rev. Otsuka. The way he spoke so casually and comfortably to us reminded me of True Father.” – Hitoe

Our team was in high spirits after hearing from such a spirited man!

Our team was in high spirits after hearing from such a spirited man!

NOTE: An earlier version of this post failed to properly identify the US Ambassador to Japan (Ambassador Caroline Kennedy) and had mistakenly gendered her as “he”. It has since been corrected. [Thank you David!]