Students Share Stories of Growth at Sunhak Institute
For over 30 years, the Sunhak Institute of Korean Studies (previously known as the General Orientation Program, or GOP) has provided an opportunity for young Unificationists to study in Korea. Middle and high school students from around the world spend 10 months learning the Korean language at CheongPyeong, the Heaven and Earth Training Center, and get to know True Mother personally. Immersed in a new culture with new people, these young Unificationists are challenged to grow academically, spiritually, and mentally.
Students choose to study at the Sunhak Institute for a variety of reasons. “I decided I wanted a change,” says Ohichi Watanabe (14), whose family lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Las Vegas is not the best place to be in spiritually.” After coming to the school and performing well on a Korean language proficiency test, Ohichi decided to challenge himself more. Today, Ohichi wakes up early every day and spends at least four hours studying. He also prays much more consistently than he did back home. “I pray about six times a day,” says Ohichi.
Jerry Kambashi (15), one of Ohichi’s peers at the Sunhak school, says, “GOP was a life-changing experience. Before I came to Korea, I just went to church as I was told, just following my parents as a lot of second-generation Unificationists do, not really thinking about why we go to church.” Like Ohichi, Jerry’s faith was challenged for the first time at Sunhak.
For Jerry, whose family lives in Canada, the past 10 months have been transformative.
At the Sunhak Institute you learn so much more than just the Korean language and culture. You also learn more internal and spiritual things like living lives as filial children and the importance of Hoon Dok Hwe (daily study of scripture). Through this program, you can really strengthen your faith and form a closer relationship with Heavenly Parent and True Parents. I realized how True Parents’ suffering, sacrifice and sincere devotion to their mission and to God has really brought salvation to mankind, how amazingly blessed and fortunate we are to be born as second-generation Unificationists, how sorrowful and painful the heart of our Heavenly Parent is, and so much more. I really realized how much my parents love me, how much they sacrificed for me as well, and how I should be eternally grateful and filial to them.
Ohichi agrees: “The Sunhak Institute teaches you so many things that it is hard to list them all…. I think the most important lesson I learned is gratitude. This program really teaches how to be grateful for everything, and through that grateful heart, we should do a lot of things unconditionally for our parents, teachers, friends, and other people.”