Contributed by Teresa Rischl
The Special Task Force (STF) program in Europe hosted its Graduation Ceremony on Sunday, August 7th, 2016 for young adults who completed a year of service, missionary work, and international experiences. Family, friends, and supporters gathered in Gaflenz, Austria at their retreat center for the celebration.
This year’s graduation was special because it signifies a new relationship between CARP America and European STF. Since there were about 7 American participants on the program, the STF Director, Deborah Cali, reached out to CARP America to attend the ceremony and connect to participants to help with the transition post-program. Teresa Rischl attended the ceremony and also shared a presentation about CARP America, including its recent tribute video to CARP from the past 50 years. Everyone in the audience was roused by the courage and determination of CARP youngsters. CARP alumni in the audience were particularly heartened to be reminded of their own youth and activism.
Teresa and her husband, Neil, also offered coaching services to attendees to help them find clarity in their next steps and plans after graduation. Over 12 attendees asked for this 1-on-1 support and left with more clarity, excitement, and confidence. To learn more about CARP’s coaching services, go to carplife.org/coaching
The American counterpart to European STF is the Generation Peace Academy (GPA) program. Both are gap year programs for youth of the Unification Movement to develop their faith. CARP has been working closely with GPA for the past few years and so it was natural that I kept comparing STF to GPA. “GPA doesn’t do it like that…” However, I had to catch myself because to really be a global citizen (as our mission statement says), we can’t just disregard what we aren’t used to. We need to take time to listen and understand. It was fitting that one of the songs the group sang had the line, “There is beauty in most anything I see.” To move forward together, we need to connect in heart, recognize the beauty, and unite.
As an American, it is easy to get comfortable in our own ways and routines. By traveling to another country with a different language, I was confronted by how complicated it can be to unite. Among the STF participants, there were several native languages and cultures represented. However, there are ways to communicate beyond words- with heart and love.
Some Participant Testimonies
Carmel Mould, a 1st year graduate from the United Kingdom with an infectious laugh, shared her testimony during the graduation ceremony. “What I learned this year is that we are God’s hope.” She shared how this past year of training was like having a bucket and being able to fill it with many colors (experiences). Her hope is that when she and her peers go back to her communities, that they can splash their bucket on their communities and countries to create an even more colorful, bright, and hopeful future.
Yoshimi Nomura, a 2nd year graduate from Chicago, Illinois (USA), shared a moving and heart-felt testimony. She shared that she was scared to lead a team in her second year but chose to do it anyways. At times, it was very challenging and she confronted God, asking, “Why did you choose me? Why not someone else?” She also remembered the experiences of Father Moon who also had to pioneer alone for God. Her realization was that God trusted her to overcome the difficulties and that the pain she felt was a part of the pain God has experienced for a long time. Her heart was to comfort God and be grateful. “Thank you, God, for letting me experience this.” Despite feeling unqualified, she was constantly reminded that God needed and trusted her.
Unja Hassinen, a 3rd year graduate from Finland, shared how her training was really a representative of all things that come up in the family (Father Moon often said that the family was the school of love). She shared that the theme of this year for her was about healing and being responsible for pain so that it could be totally removed, with nothing left behind. She offered her path of healing saying, “If you pray for others, it opens your heart to them to see their original self. Thank you to everyone for being willing to forgive.” She offered this year as a condition for reconciliation and unity.
Mother Moon has been encouraging collaboration across departments, organizations, and countries. This type of unity is only possible if we can respect, understand, and love each other as one family under God. To be a global citizen, we need to know our family. Just like each family is made up of diverse characters and personalities, our global family has incredible diversity, beauty, and charm. To be a family, we need to get to know our family. That’s why international and intercultural experiences are so important. If you have a chance to travel, do so. But, travel with a heart to understand and appreciate, not just compare. Be open-minded to how God can be expressed in billions of different ways.
Thank you to European STF for this opportunity to connect with you and to be able to provide a global educational experience to our young people. Imagine a world where all of our young people are filled with love for their brothers and sisters all over the world…it’s a world of miracles and peace, for sure.