Unification News for January 2003

International Leadership Seminar in Costa Rica

by William R. Cook

Planning for the seminar on October 27, 2002 began about one month before. The local members worked hard to unite and organize the planning and preparation process, led by Heriberto Chavez, National Leader, and Rev. Kwan Yong Woo, Assistant Continental Director.

Rev. Kwak arrived at Juan Santamaria Airport in a sudden and strong rainstorm at 4:45pm on the 26th and was received in the diplomatic salon. The arrivals of the VIPs were all delayed by weather conditions on the roads, so we proceeded to the Hotel Cariari with a police motorcycle escort.

After freshening up at the hotel, Rev. Kwak met privately with ex-president Rodrigo Carazo and his wife Estrella Zeledon. They discussed the need for Values Education at the national level, and increased cooperation at the international level. Hon. Carazo apologized that he was unable to stay for dinner and the conference because of his departure for Ecuador early the following morning.

Dr. Franco Fernandez Esquivel, Rector of the University of Cartago Florencio Castillo, and the dean of curriculum for the school, joined Rev. Kwak and Dr. Walsh for a private dinner attended by the local leaders. Florencio Castillo has more than 30 campuses throughout Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua that focus on professional development. They discussed the importance of adding a Values Curriculum at the university level, and will begin working with Carlos Marin from the local IIFWP chapter to develop course curriculum content.

Since everyone had been seriously delayed the evening before, there was some anxiety that the guests would not arrive on time for the seminar the next morning, or would follow "tico" time and arrive 30 to 50 minutes late. To our surprise and great relief guests began arriving even 30 minutes before the registration time of 9:00 am. By 9:30 everyone had arrived and was seated and ready for the program to begin.

A total of 206 guests participated in the seminar from all professional walks of life. Also in attendance were 21 IIFWP chapter leaders from other nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The morning began with introductory remarks from Dr. Fernandez and an introductory video. Rev. Kwak’s keynote introduction inspired the audience, and set the stage for the following presentations. After a short break, Rev. Kwak continued with presentations on our spiritual life, seasoned generously with his own personal experiences, bolstered by universal principles. This was followed by a presentation on the value of the family in individual, social and spiritual development, and the role of love in human society. Many of the participants commented after the presentation about the humble, human and simple nature of the wisdom Rev. Kwak was sharing, but said that it was universal and powerful in impact. During his many explanations of family love and personal stories, the audience was completely captivated.

This powerful presentation on the ideals of true love and true families as the basis for peace in the nation and world led to a call for all participants to receive a special spiritual blessing on their marriages and families, known as the World Peace Blessing. This reaffirmation of the vows of ideal love, coupled with pledges to maintain the universal spiritual laws of fidelity and purity were cheered by the audience. Six representative couples came to the front of the stage to complete a ceremony of holy wine, prayer and blessed water to seal their pledges. This was followed by the distribution of the sacrament to all of the other participants by female ushers. The long morning was followed by a buffet lunch on the poolside patio with a light breeze and showers to refresh the participants.

The afternoon program covered the history and organization of IIFWP, followed by substantial presentations on Values Education and HIV/AIDS prevention programs. At the end of the day a final coffee was served because so many of the guests did not want to leave without more information on local programs. Many schools and organizations asked to collaborate and receive IIFWP educational materials for teachers, students and parents in the areas of values education, and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The following day Rev. Kwak visited the offices of the local chapter of IIFWP and the Spanish language weekly newspaper Tiempos del Mundo. He participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the new TV station TelePaz 52 that will begin broadcasting 10 hours a day from the IIFWP Peace Embassy in San José. Rev. Kwak was sought out even upon his departure, as the Ambassador of Ecuador to Costa Rica, Pio Oswaldo Cueva, and his wife Ximena Vela Borja offered their good-byes in the diplomatic lounge of the Juan Santamaria International Airport.

The warmth and generosity of Rev. Kwak and Dr. Walsh served to inspire the participants of the ILS to work harder publicly, and in their own lives to practice and achieve the ideals of world peace.

William Cook is IIFWP Regional Secretary General, [Latin America and the Caribbean.

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