The Words of the Platt Family
We opened with greetings and a prayer and Roland gave his report:
I hope you all had a great Christmas. It was the first time that STF/GPA kids went home for Christmas, it was really in In Jin Nim's heart to do that. And they had a very exciting return to NY with Winter Gala, which was very successful with over 800 attending, then on to the Winter Fest at UTS. IN Jin Nim is really creating new and wonderful traditions for the young people and families- The Winter Ball and Graduation Gala, The Spring Fest, the Culture and Sports event and now the first Winter Fest. It had exciting activities for all ages and it required the cooperation of staff and members from GPA, BTA the Winter Charge workshop and local families. It was a great way to end the old year and start a new one, with bonfires, a short powerful message from Rev. Cotter, prayer, cheers of mansei and amazing fireworks, God also provided good weather!
The GPA then went down to NYC for Lovin' Life activities on Sunday Jan' 1st and then back up to UTS for the week long GPA workshop. The first day focused on sharing and reflecting on the time at home with family and giving the PowerPoint presentations to the church community. And we spent the afternoon / evening on goal setting for the new year and module. Then the next three days were spent with Rev. Compton presenting lectures and video clips on True Parents Life Course, really bringing the autobiography alive. On Friday we had the best ski day ever! The weather was warmer than expected, but the snow was good and we had the slopes pretty much to ourselves. Half the group had never skied and so had lessons, and everyone had a great time and best of all- no injuries! That evening we came back and watched the Korean movie "TaeGuKi", which is about two brothers and their struggles during the Korean war. Saturday we cleaned up UTS and made some preparations for the new modules and Sunday, we attended Lovin' Life. From there the Fundraising module took off toward Texas and the Leadership module settled in at 43rd St., and the international group and choir came back to UTS.
The fundraising module will have workshop at Camp Flaming Arrow in Texas and then do 10 days of fundraising with a moderate schedule, including time for exercise, study and enough sleep. Their next workshop will be in Colorado, and then they have a 21 day super challenge. After that they have another workshop and a final 21 day competition fundraising condition. Akirasan is leading this group.
The 43rd St. Leadership module is spending a couple of days receiving orientation, guidance and choosing which practicums (media, witnessing, youth ministry, music, dance etc…) they want for the afternoon schedule.
The overseas module combines the choir group going to Korea for True Parents Birthday and choir competition, and a group going to Thailand. John Gehring and Keishu are organizing these projects. The Thai group will go to Atlanta GA and fundraise and prepare there until they leave.
For the Korea and Japan group, they have a historical opportunity to participate in True Parents Birthday and God's Day celebrations in CP. And also participate in the talent and choir competitions representing In Jin Nim, Lovin' Life and America. They will also be traveling around Korea and Japan to inspire new hope and vision in the 2nd gen and stimulate them to start something like GPA in those countries, since STF ended a few years ago and there is more confusion about our movement. It will also be a promotional tour since next year we are also opening up GPA to international applicants and expect 20-30 to apply.
So the first week they will be in Chung Pyung attending festivities. The second week they will travel around Korea, visiting Holy grounds, church companies, Sun Moon University, Yeo Su, Pusan… meeting with church members and 2nd gen. along the way. In Jin Nim asked Rev. Cotter to travel with them. The best service they can do is sing, so they are also scheduled to sing for some handicapped people's homes. They will work their way to Pusan, where they will leave by ship to Osaka and then take a bus to Sendai.
Right now the Choir group is receiving training from Dr. Ron Paterson (Christian Disaster Relief) for two days in essentials of surviving and helping when disasters happen. Him and Richard Sapp have worked for years with IRFF in projects dealing with disaster relief on all continents. So this choir group will be staying at UTS until they leave, practicing singing and fundraising.
Around Feb 20th the Thai group will fly to Bangkok and spend a few days there getting oriented to the culture and then spend most of their time in the North near the border with Burma working with two organizations. One focused on preventing girls from getting into the sex trade by educating them about the realities of it, and offering alternative skills and vision of their value and future. The other organization works with women who have gotten out and need help with rehabilitation and new skills. At the end this group will participate in a big WFWP event in Bangkok, which will highlight the issue of sex trafficking. This is the first time for our kids to do service in these areas – before we always focused on the Caribbean or Latin America. These two projects are really inspired by In Jin Nim's vision.
Also, I want to note that Dr. Patterson remembers well the STF teams that helped out at the time of Katrina. I think we will make a big impact in Sendai, too, because there have been few foreigners or volunteers there for the last few months, mostly it has been 2nd Gen from Japan. Especially in the middle of Winter.
Question: Is Sendai still radioactive, will it affect our kids?
Roland: Good question and one we have looked into. In Jin Nim certainly doesn't want to expose our 2nd Gen to radiation. Sendai is far enough from Fukushima where the nuclear reactors are, the area has been tested and they found very little. Nonetheless we will be bringing a device which can be clipped on a shirt which will measure radioactivity and warn us if there is some. Most of the work will be digging mud out of homes and buildings and we will be wearing gloves, masks and boots. Finally, it has been found that radioactivity affects people more when they have long term exposure, so one week isn't too long. Luke Higuchi, who works in our Japanese headquarters, has already done a lot of work in the Tsunami area and will be guiding us in Sendai. He is also leading the way in raising awareness about the kidnapping issue.
By the way, Dr. Patterson sees a lot of potential for our movement to help with disasters. He thinks this year may have some big ones. Anyway, it's good for us to be trained and certified for survival and for helping others.
Question: I'm wondering about something my daughter (with fragile health) was telling me, that the fundraising kids are going pioneering, being dropped off with no money to see how they can do for three days.
Roland: Well we've done this before and find it helps build teamwork and leadership skills. They will be in groups of three combining boys and girls and members with more fundraising experience with those who just had the two weeks at the kickoff workshop. So they will have to ask for donations and fundraise to buy product, get meals and motel, be totally self reliant. They will have guidelines to follow, have to report every night, and team leaders will be nearby if they need help. Many members have reported that this was one of their best experiences to develop self confidence and trust in God.
As for her health, In Jin Nim is providing Vemma for the whole fundraising module to ensure their health and wellbeing, so that should help.
Question: When will graduation be? And where?
Roland: It will be on or around the 25th of June in New York. The schedule until then is that the current module will end March 18th. There will be a blessing workshop in Texas at Camp flaming Arrow from March 18th to 23rd. Rev. Shanker and Debby Gullery will be there. The third module will end June 18th, there will be a concluding workshop and then graduation and the gala.
Question: Will there be a family's workshop?
Roland: Sorry, at this point we are not planning on a families' workshop this year, but Conclusion and Graduation will be good for families to participate in, especially for younger siblings who should be out of school by then. We will have more info later. In the meantime if parents need addresses of information, please contact Thanh, our very capable general affairs coordinator. He will respond quickly.
Question: Did I understand right that non-Unificationists would be able to join GPA next year?
Roland: No, what In Jin Nim wants is for new young 1st gen members to be able to join. They have to be well educated, gone through membership course, be committed and approved by their local pastors.
Question: How can parents communicate with their kids when they are overseas?
Roland: The kids will have a chance to e-mail regularly. Calling from there is no guarantee, but international calling cards may be an option.
Question: What is the schedule again for the overseas groups?
Roland: The Korea/Japan choir group leaves on Jan 21st to arrive in time for True Parents birthday. The Thai group leaves about a month later on Feb. 20th. Both groups will go for 21 days, but the Thai group will fundraise before they go and the choir group will fundraise after they come back.
Question: Do the kids get to decide which country they want to go to?
Roland: We do a survey at the beginning of the module to find out where the kids would like to go, what talents, skills, or languages they speak, etc… That's how their country is chosen. As for the choir an audition was held to see who would join the choir. More and more countries and organizations are appealing to us through John Gehring, and countries we've already been to want us to come back, so now we have a one year waiting list.
Question: What can we do if we don't hear from our kids every week?
Roland: They really should call every Sun. eve. We give them time to do that. However, we have found that the 43rd St. module has a harder time, since the schedule gets packed on Sundays. Anyway, they should call on Sat. or Monday evenings if they miss on Sun. You can call Thanh and we will talk with your child's captain to find out what's happening or you can leave a message on your child's cell phone to remind them.
Question: When can kids apply to join GPA for next year?
Roland: The application process will start February 1st. An announcement will come out soon- probably on the Unification Church website and Lovin' Life announcements. Also, we now have a website for families to get more testimonies, information and the application for GPA. It is gpafamily.org. The more public website is: generationpeaceacademy.org. Please check them out.
Also, a final note: In Jin Nim is buying Korean dresses (Hanboks) for all the girls and black tailored suits for all the boys in the choir.
Question: Who will be the judges in the choir competition?
Roland: The True Children!
We discussed when to have the next conference call. Roland will be accompanying the group to Korea, leaving in 10 days, he will try to send a report to us all from there, but the Tues. after he comes back is Valentine's Day so the next call won't be until Feb. 21st.
David Rogers concluded with a prayer.
Thank you everyone for a great call, and especially to Roland for his report and great work.