The Words of the Sardella Family
First of all, let me say that I am so glad that I came to this UTS Last Days Reunion and I wouldn't miss the next one for the world. I especially appreciate Robin Graham, who quarterbacked all the conversations and logistics and the many others who made this happen.
For me, it was a blessing in so many ways, to see some people after so many years, to meet so many other wonderful people for the first time and to authentically catch up and plan forward. During the course of the weekend, at some points, I laughed so hard, I could barely breathe and at other points, I was moved to tears and spiritually stirred, beyond what I thought would happen.
On this talk, given the nature and the huge scope of the topics, I was pleasantly surprised that 46 Alumni showed interest to attend and explore this arena, especially as it is becoming a central theme for the development plans for Barrytown College and is core to their long term purposes.
To create a context for our 90 minute session, I shared that the origins of my committed interested in these topics began when I was a student at UTS, between 1978-1980. A small group of about 7-10 classmates started researching, brainstorming and experimenting with ways that we might improve the quality and the effectiveness of our missions and our ministries throughout the movement. I then shared several anecdotes from my journey, including what I had learned from working with various leaders and educators, including beyond our Unificationist realm.
I think that nearly 30 people were actually showed up to participate that day, in what I intended to have as a primarily facilitated discussion, to seek and share collective wisdom/feedback about:
Where we've been as a God-centered movement
What we intended to accomplish when we all originally set out
What we have actually accomplished over the course of the years
What turned out differently than we may have anticipated
What we could now improve and enhance, as we move forward
And plans for effective future development and how best to go about it.
The majority of our time was invested in this interactive dialogue, gleaning a variety of helpful observations, experiences and perspectives. Throughout the course of the conversation, when I felt it was timely, relevant and appropriate, I'd share real-life anecdotes, to affirm what we heard. Towards the end of our session, along with QandA, I walked through a few handouts. (attached)
My expectation for this session was that it might identify and spark an ongoing, developmental, potentially collaborative, dialogue amongst a core group of alumni who would continue to keep in touch and do their best to create ways to work together and contribute their ideas and talents.
Since returning from the Reunion, I have already had a number of individual follow up calls with brothers and sisters, so that I could better understand their experiences to date, their current aspirations/challenges and their hoped for future plans. From every conversation, we have identified a few doable, next step action items and a follow up date to reconvene by phone/skype.
I welcome that productive opportunity to do so with anyone else who so desires to explore it. Two key insights emerged for me, out of this presentation. Thought leadership and collaboration.
#1) on the topic of thought leadership – several alumni shared that, back in the 1980's, for example, we were more visible "thought leaders" for our movement and for the world, via such organized efforts as International Conferences for the Unity of the Sciences and CAUSA. And many noted that there was both a deep need and an opportunity for that in today's world now.
One person cited that it was time for "a new expression of the truth", in 21st Century terms, addressing, possibly in critique and counter proposal format, the most pressing issues of our times. That challenge would also be to communicate God's Heart and View in ways that our members, our 2nd Gen, our Ambassadors for Peaces, etc would be better equipped to accomplish.
#2) on the topic of collaboration – several other alumni cited that, with the imminent emergence of Barrytown College, that not only was the site being re-purposed, but also the UTS Alumni could be re-purposed. In an intergenerational way, UTS Alumni stand to collaborate with each other as they also seek to collectively serve the successful launch and growth of a whole new generation of leaders and help to create a lasting institutional culture that incorporates the best of Unificationism into Barrytown's curricula, trainings, internships, mentoring and job placements.
Especially with the rapidly expanding communication and educational tools of the internet, google, youtube and the social media, we have the possibility to make a spiritually and educationally rich impact for our next generation and on the greater world at this critical time.
If this was billed as The Last Days Reunion, I'd suggest that we regroup in one year and call it The First Days Reunion, signaling a series of reinvigorated new beginnings and fresh initiatives.
I will do all I can to follow through on projects being explored/launched and will also support the success of our next UTS Alumni Association Reunion, which I envision will grow and expand.