Unification News for January 1995


Mr. & Miss University: A Rejuvenating Experience

by Daniela Wetherall-NYC

CARP has always had a special place in my heart, mainly because that is the organization I chose to work with when I first joined the Unification Church ten years ago. And maybe because the spirit of young people has often been my great source of "fear" and inspiration.

It was back in 1987 that, as a CARP member, I took care of Mr. University from the Philippines, who had come to Italy on his world tour. It was a special week as we traveled along the beautiful peninsula, sharing about our different cultures and discovering what all mankind has in common-mainly, our Heavenly Father! For many years afterwards, Vincent and I kept a tight correspondence that has created an indelible friendship.

Thus I wish here to offer my heartfelt gratitude to both J-CARP and US-CARP, because when I was first asked to partake in the organization of the 17th edition of this special University Pageant, I could not help but anticipate the joy that my previous experience had given me. This time, though, God had in store something different for me-and certainly not less valuable!

Since I was engaged in helping out with the invitations to the UN ambassadors and the organization of the three main banquets, I found myself more in the shoes of an observer when it came to a rapport with the participants. I remember the first evening, though, while sharing dinner with the future Miss University from Tanzania and Miss Bangladesh, when I found myself suddenly caught in a "deja vu" experience: a few months earlier I had had a dream of exactly that same dinner and those very same people, and this thrilled me even more, for I knew that I was really in the right place. Hence, whenever time and chance allowed me, I started paying close attention to the participants and their activities.

I must admit though that despite my interest in them, I could not really feel part of them or have them feel part of me. Most of them looked so "immature, strange and beyond grasp" and I could not adjust to those feelings. Thus, I continued to be an observer. It was only after the major events, though, that one evening while saying good-bye to the first few participants who were returning to their countries, that I understood what Heavenly Father had been trying to convey to me in those few days. Some of the participants were truly in tears and their separation from one another seemed to be the most devastating experience of their lives. Everybody was in tears but me. Actually, my tears were hidden inside, as I thought I could not understand them, did not want to understand them...was afraid to understand them. Yes, there it was! Their laughter and their tears flushed back memories of my adolescence, an adolescence that I had undeniably tried to forget!

I do have wonderful parents and had a fantastic childhood, but when I turned 12, suddenly the world broke apart. I was much more mature than my peers, and my beloved parents did not have a clue what to do with such a restless and unpredictable teenager like me. Thus, hell broke loose inside my heart and I decided to become an adult by refusing to associate with people of my own age. All my friends were at least ten years older than I, and the pain of missing out on those special years has been at times excruciating. Thus, during that first farewell my soul was hit once again with those acute memories and, as I had done before, I just wanted to escape. But now God had decided to stop time for me and was determined to show me how beautiful these young people were in their own freshness, enthusiasm, emotions and, yes, even in their natural immaturity. There and then, I was able to grab that part of me that I had chased away for so long, and soothing tears swelled up in my eyes.

There I was, the teenager I never wanted to be, crying with them and for them at the farewell of adolescence: a time to laugh and a time to cry without knowing why.

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