Unification News for June 2002

International Leadership Seminar in Estonia

by Johann Hinterleitner

Over two hundred guests joined together with over 30 staff and lecturers on May 6th, 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia, for an all day seminar in the Radisson SAS, to contemplate the future of their newly independent country.

Prof. Anto Rukas, who has attended various IIFWP international events, the last one being the WCSF in Seoul, Korea this past February - welcomed the lecturers, all participants and his fellow Estonians.

Prof. Raukas is well known and is a respected public figure in Estonian society. After giving a brief overview of the many activities initiated by the Rev. and Mrs. Moon, he stressed the importance of moral principles and healthy families for the future of Estonia.

Dr. Thomas Walsh introduced the keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak and then Dr. Walsh presented an overview of the goals and activities of IIFWP, illustrating his presentation with beautiful slides.

The morning sessions concluded with taking a group photograph, which certainly wasn't an easy task. However, everyone cooperated very well.

After lunch a very serious problem was addressed -- HIV. Dr. Thomas Walsh spoke on "AIDS Prevention and Healthy Lifestyles" followed by two Estonian speakers who are struggling with the rapidly growing number of HIV infected people, most of whom are youth.

Statistics presented by Dr. Irina Moroz from the Estonian AIDS Prevention Center clearly showed that a large percentage of the young people who get involved with drugs, come from broken families. The connection between broken homes and drug abuse are evident, and the HIV virus spreads most rapidly among drug users. Both, Dr. Moroz and her colleague, Mr. Jury Kalikov emphasized the importance of a stronger awareness of the HIV problem among leading politicians and leaders in society. Otherwise an epidemic is a real threat for the future of Estonia.

Mr. Jack Corley, Secretary General of the International Educational Foundation (IEF) continued the presentations with a slide lecture on "The Need for Moral and Spiritual Education." The logic and clarity of this presentation received many positive responses and participating teachers showed great interest in IEF literature, which is a curriculum based on character education, for their schools.

Finally Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak gave two lectures. The first one was, "The Significance of Eternal Life and the Spirit World" and the second, "The Significance of Marriage, Family and Blessing". Both lectures presented a strong challenge to the Estonian audience, because Estonians do not have too much of a religious inclination. However, almost everyone stayed to the very end, listening attentively to the powerful and logical presentations.

Then the emcee and Rev. Kwak invited all couples present to come forward and rededicate their marriage vows and receive the Blessing. For various reasons we were rather uncertain how people would respond to this call. Estonians seem reserved and do not show their emotions easily, especially to foreigners. One brave couple had courage and came forward, then six more couples followed and were joined by three individual spouses who rededicated themselves even in the absence of their spouses. All couples seemed deeply moved with several of the women shedding lots of tears spontaneously. It was truly a most meaningful conclusion to the seminar.

During dinner some participants shared their impressions of the seminar, expressing the need in Estonia for what had been proposed during the conference. Five newly appointed Ambassadors for Peace received their certificates from Rev. Kwak. Certificates of participation and a group photo were distributed to all those present.

The general tone from many participants was that the content of the lectures was exactly what Estonian society and the country on the whole needed. Even though Estonia has seen impressive economic development during the last ten years, the other side of the coin is alarming indeed: rapid disintegration of the family, accompanied by moral and ethical decline, increasing drug abuse, and a threatening HIV epidemic.

Our first IIFWP conference in December 2000 and this seminar have enabled us to build a good foundation with many leaders in various fields throughout Estonian society, many of whom appreciate and value the vision and work of the founders, the Rev. and Mrs. Moon.

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