“Academics alone do not define your success…Now is the time to take pride in your feats and to revel in your future; but do not get complacent. What you really need to do is believe in yourself and get moving.” -Yoo Shin Tanai
This June, the Family Peace Association community in New York/New Jersey had the opportunity to celebrate the success of high school graduate Yoo Shin Tanai.
According to those close to him, Yoo Shin’s passion for service and leadership on top of his academic aptitude is what makes him so successful. Throughout his time in high school, Yoo Shin helped coordinate volunteer projects with Habitat for Humanity of Westchester, played improvised jazz piano at local cafe with his best friends, traveled to St. Louis, MO for a robotics competition and Houston, TX for a science research competition, was a CVA (Core Value Academy) teacher, and participated in many other activities including school plays, swimming, cross country, biking, and hiking.
Yoo Shin and family at Ossining High School Graduation
Referred to by his father as a “super high schooler,” Yoo Shin graduated with honors as his class salutatorian, delivering heartfelt congratulations to his peers and a message of determination to not be complacent even in celebration.
“Academics alone do not define your success… There are so many things in our lives that we cannot control: the place we are born, our family situation, the political climate, and whatever else the world throws at us. But how we deal with those environmental factors is what distinguishes us from everyone else. Being Japanese-American has greatly influenced my life and has left me in between two different cultural spheres. When I went to Japan, I was considered American; here I am considered Asian. I didn’t choose to be born to two Japanese parents in America but I am truly grateful and it has defined who I am.
Each of us have our own stories and backgrounds and life will throw challenges at us but after maturing, I’ve realized that I have been extremely blessed to be proficient in another language and to understand a vastly different culture. Deciding to see my background as a valuable lesson has strongly shaped my attitude to all sorts of issues. Our individual experiences interwoven into a collective enables us to understand varying perspectives. Each of us has things that make us feel distanced or isolated from everyone else, but it’s important to get over those differences.
Now is the time to take pride in your feats and to revel in your future; but do not get complacent. What you really need to do is believe in yourself and get moving. Our next challenge is how to contribute to society, whether it is through college, getting a job, or serving our country. But recognize that life is going to throw old lemons at your face and you’re not going to make good lemonade with them. Pick them up, clean up the mess and throw a smile back on your face.”
Seattle, Washington: Ten middle and high school students demonstrated their passion for God-centered leadership today at the kickoff for a fundraising campaign as part of Junior Leadership Task Force (Jr. LTF).
Kenshu Aoki talks about spiritual growth and leadership
As a leadership training program, Jr. LTF is a Family Peace Association platform that incorporates cognitive, experiential and spiritual education while encouraging candidates to apply those lessons to their daily life.
Kenshu Aoki introduced the theme of the fundraising project, “Taking Ownership over my Leadership Training.” He emphasized the importance of challenge to personal growth, explaining how fundraising not only contributes a great service to those in need, but also provides an opportunity to set jungsung, a sincere heart to live for the sake of others.
Fundraising also provides individuals with a unique opportunity for self-discovery. “You can grow your character through fundraising” said Kenshu. “For example, You might find yourself getting frustrated at your partner for some reason. In that moment, you can either get upset or see it as an opportunity to grow your love and patience for others. It teaches you lessons for life.”
Jr. LTF prepares for a week of fundraising with handmade boxes
In preparation for the fundraising campaign, Jr. LTF practiced by role-playing with their teammates. Partners worked together to carefully assembled products and portfolios before a quick fundraising run to kick-off the campaign.
Jr. LTF USA fundraisers will spend a week raising money to support villages in Indonesia. FPA will partner with organizations that combine solar technology with clean water solutions, education, income generation and public-private partnerships to improve the overall quality of life in impoverished communities.
Jr. LTF members from around the world will join the full ten-day program in Indonesia starting on July 30.
CVA Principal Maruko Breland asks students if they are ready to graduate
Students, teachers, parents and Family Peace Association staff and volunteers came together on June 25 to celebrate the completion of another year for Core Values Academy (CVA). Children from CVA Kindergarten through Grade 6 participated in the graduation ceremony for CVA Elementary with songs, presentations of what they learned, and gifts for the volunteer teachers, without whom CVA could not have happened. FPA USA President, Mr. Howard Self, asked students what they learned and received an array of responses. One student reminded her classmates about the theme of the year saying, “We learned about taking ownership over our spiritual growth!”
Others chimed in with their insight, mentioning the lessons of teamwork, respect, and true love in living for the sake of others.
CVA will continue in the Fall for the 2017-2018 academic year. In the meantime, children and young adults will be participating in a variety of programs to nurture their leadership qualities and define their vision for our global family. Check out the Jr. Leadership Task Force and stay updated on the latest news to learn more!
High School graduates in Washington state were offered warm congratulations by their parents, family and brothers and sisters in Core Values for Life when their mentors set up a celebratory dinner for them on June 19. In their speeches, graduates thanked their parents and community for supporting them not only academically, but especially spiritually as they overcame many challenges to achieve their diploma and a chance to more capably serve the world into the future.
“The theme for our class this year has been ‘Identity and Destiny.’ Each person has a unique way through which he or she can contribute to God’s work.”
Core Values Academy Middle School students and mentors from Seattle excitedly completed an overnight hike to Talapus Lake in Washington on May 20 and 21. Trekking through snow-covered trails, the class had to work together to set up camp, create a campfire, and prepare meals.
In the weeks leading up to the hike, Middle School students worked as a class to create a list of essentials, divvying up responsibilities and ensuring they had the proper equipment. Middle School mentor, Kenshu Aoki, shared the meaning behind planning for the hike saying, “Our purpose is to reflect and ponder about our God-given destiny as we lay under the stars. The theme for our class this year has been ‘Identity and Destiny.’ Each person has a unique way through which he or she can contribute to God’s work.”
Family Peace Association affirms that nature is one of the best environments for our spiritual growth. It is in nature that we challenge our limitations, understanding who we are and where we are at on our spiritual path to becoming sons and daughters of God.
Brothers and sisters from FPA Seattle’s Core Values for Life hosted high school seniors in a night of fun in the second Senior Campfire. With activities like kayaking, s’more-making and games, CVL members strive to not only have fun with their younger brothers and sisters, but also create an environment where young people can express their excitement or anxiety for the future, ask questions and build relationships, expanding their family and creating a strong foundation for their future.
It was great to feel the caring environment throughout the prepared activities. The time together was nice and peaceful as we also prepared meals together and tidied up the house. Though it was a short trip, the conversations and connections that happened were sweet and comforting, just like the time I have with my family. I am sure God enjoyed the moment as well. I hope this event would happen again since the kind of connection that occurred is better shared and expanded than kept alone.