Mission to Midterms
Photo credit FFWPU-USA
Millions of students across the U.S. have gone back to school this fall, including recent graduates of Generation Peace Academy (GPA). Several GPA participants, now transitioning into college after two and three years of the program, are sharing how it prepared them in immeasurable ways and has impacted their lives.
“Before GPA, I was going through a very difficult time in my life,” said Rika Otsubo, a 22 year old from Hawaii. “GPA helped me to overcome personal challenges in an uplifting environment and it gave me a positive perspective with going through hardship. It shaped me to see things more from God’s perspective.”
Otsubo, now pursuing a degree in elementary education at a local college, recently graduated from GPA after dedicating two years to the program.
“My internal goal was trust, and to never let go of God’s hand,” said Otsubo. “I wanted to work on myself before eventually having a relationship and family of my own. I can see how GPA gave me tools, like leadership training, that have already benefited me as a future teacher.”
Established by Mother of Peace Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, GPA strives to build a better world by preparing the leaders of tomorrow. The yearlong program for young Unificationists ‘empowers the next generation to discover and take ownership of their faith, practice a leadership of love, serve developing countries, and learn to surpass differences of race and religion.’
Armed with various qualities equipping them for the future, Otsubo and dozens of other GPA graduates anticipate their next chapter as young peacemakers who hope to leave an indelible mark at school.
“On GPA, I wanted to commit to my own growth,” said Soonja Konno, a two-year graduate from Illinois. “I had the determination of developing myself as much as possible in order to help God’s providence become a reality as fast as possible.”
“GPA inspired me so much and makes me feel like I have to do something to help the world,” added another recent graduate.
The educational landscape in 2020 has changed dramatically as institutions respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study revealed a range of online and in-person studies.
Still, many GPA graduates hope to continue their training—this time through the local Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) chapters initiated by Unificationists at various schools.
“There is a providential need for CARP and GPA,” said Jinil Fleischman, a three-year GPA alumnus who joined the national CARP team after graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Fleischman served as the CARP president of the UNLV chapter for four years.
“Many people ask questions about balancing academics and CARP activities,” said Fleischman. “It is up to us to take ownership of what we believe and then how we live it.
Deeply inspired, Otsubo now heads the CARP chapter in Hawaii. She also leads the local Youth and Young Adult Ministry (YAYAM) of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) USA.
“GPA gave me so much training, but it also enabled me to relate to people with different levels of faith,” said Otsubo. “There was a moment on GPA where I felt lost and that God had left me. That moment helped me to understand what life is like for many people in the world who live their life without God. This moved me to help my community members connect with God.”
This year, 62 young Unificationists have committed to a second and third year of GPA, where they will dive further into the Unification movement and its core teachings which include unconditional love and living for the sake of others.
“Second and third-year GPA participants focus on helping others with their life of faith, passing on that tradition and helping them grow while continuing to grow in their own faith as well,” said GPA staff member Margaret Repkey. “It’s a chance to experience God in different ways.”
One thing is also certain, participants greatly value their time on GPA and the lifelong skills they develop.
“I am deeply grateful for GPA,” said Otsubo. “I’m excited to see what God has prepared for the future.”
You can support GPA service projects, scholarships, alumni, and more by donating here.