GPA in Korea: A Transformative Experience
The Generation Peace Academy (GPA) continued their 2020 Korea pilgrimage in February, following a jam-packed week of key peace events spearheaded by co-founder of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, affectionately known as True Mother.
On February 10, GPA participants were greeted by Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, vice president of FFWPU International, who spoke about the value of GPA, the power of prayer, and the importance of supporting True Mother. Participants later visited Paju Wonjeon, a Unificationist burial ground located in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, and offered many bouquets of flowers. The group also traveled to Cheongpa Dong Church, the original headquarters of the Unification movement, where they heard personal stories about True Mother and her late husband, FFWPU Co-founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, affectionately known as True Father. The day concluded with a Cheon Il Guk (CIG) youth missionary commitment ceremony, where GPA second and third-years presented the newly-initiated CIG youth missionaries with handmade gifts.
The next day featured a tour of Sun Moon University, an institution founded by True Parents. Professor Emmanuel Adu shared about the importance of incorporating faith in one’s education. “Visiting Sun Moon University was an amazing experience,” said one second-year GPA participant. “I feel inspired to attend this school to become a future leader for the world and guide others to God and True Parents.”
In the evening, Dr. Kim offered participants a special gift from True Mother: an all-you-can-eat bulgogi dinner! Although everyone wished they could eat with True Mother directly, they still felt her presence in their hearts as they indulged in the most delicious Korean cuisine.
On February 12 before sunrise, participants gathered to offer devotion to God and True Parents, praying for True Mother’s health and safety. Then the group traveled to the famous and beautiful Gyeongbokgung Palace. Participants wore traditional Korean hanboks, fully embracing the elegant Korean culture as they explored the palace; taking photos and admiring its grandiosity.
The last tourist stop of the pilgrimage was the War Memorial of Korea, a museum exhibiting the atrocities Korea suffered during wartime. “I was lost for words when looking at the faces of fear and sadness as well as the expressions of hope and patriotism,” shared one participant. “True love drives us to forget about ourselves and stand for more than just our own people or country; we are one united and global family under God.”
In the evening participants were introduced to Youth and Students for Peace (YSP), a program aiming to fulfill the United Nations’ sustainable development goals; such as ending poverty, hunger, corruption and inequality, and taking care of the environment. Inspired by YSP’s mission, participants participated in their own service project the next morning: they visited churches in Cheonan, Gochang and Cheongshim, where they met with many young Unificationists to build heartistic connections. “The energy created from this opportunity to serve and love became a bonding experience that truly felt like we were living in Cheon Il Guk,” shared a GPA participant.
On February 14, GPA partnered with Special Task Force (STF) Europe for an environmental cleanup in three locations: “We were all determined to clean the creation around us as well as enjoy each other’s presence,” shared one participant. “Picking up this trash while traveling across the globe shows that our True Parents’ culture can truly change the world, even if we don’t realize it in the moment.”
Participants spent the next day reflecting on their incredible two-week experience. David Eaton, chairman of the Holy Song Compilation Committee, stopped by to share about the power of culture and art, emphasizing that the participants have the power to shift culture to be more God-centered. “Music and art, when created with the right intentions, can display your pure values and inspire the hearts of others,” said one first-year participant when reflecting on Eaton’s message. “I really believe that sharing love through culture will allow us to experience true love to the fullest.”
In the afternoon, participants toured the CheonBo Won (Genealogy Center). “While walking through the Genealogy Exhibit, my heart rate slowed and I felt myself open up to my surroundings,” shared one participant. “My favorite part was how the art and history was presented; it allowed everything to settle to the deepest parts of my heart.”
On the last day of the trip, participants visited the Cheon Jeong Gung (The Peace Museum) and the BonHyang Won, where they laid down beautiful bouquets of flowers. The adventures in Korea concluded with a night of testimonies, where many participants agreed that the past two weeks of touring, service projects and opportunities to see True Mother had transformed their lives.