“You, my friends from different countries have brought the light of hope and have shown that even though we come from different races, cultures, and beliefs, we are united for one common goal.” Sany Padua, 10th Global Peace Youth Exchange
Volunteers from Korea, Japan, Mongolia and the United States participated in the 10th Global Peace Youth Exchange Philippines. The Global Peace Youth Exchange is a leadership program for young leaders motivated by the Global Peace Foundation’s vision of “One Family under God’.
Through hands-on cross-cultural exchange, community development projects, and character education, the unique program of the Global Peace Foundation in Asia Pacific seeks to cultivate leadership capacities like ownership, compassion, and innovation.
The 10th session served indigenous populations in Sanchez Mira, Sitito Pureg, and Sitio Flora. The group stayed with local families and worked side by side with local Filipino volunteers. They delivered solar powered generators to local schools, donated books, conducted character education and hygiene classes, and helped construct a community Alternative Learning System building.
Caroline Dascil, a local Filipina volunteer said the program was “a good venue for young leaders to develop one’s leadership capacity and most importantly, possess a mindset that we, the youth of today should take part in making a difference.” She learned that “a simple act of kindness is worthy and priceless when done voluntarily and whole heartedly.”
John Catabay learned compassion. He reflected, “Even if we get wounded and are in pain, if we can willingly do the task in order to help others, what we gain will stay with us forever.” He also saw the power of teamwork,”If we really work together, we can achieve anything,” he wrote.
Yoshitaka Goto and Grace experienced how the vision “One Family under God” melts barriers. Grace was reminded of the Agtas indigenous family that lived with her in grade school. “We were in a family of God,” she recalled. Going to the villages, she felt, “It’s like I’m back with my family.”
Yoshitaka Goto, a student from Seattle, Washington spoke of his inintial trepidation of cultural and linguistic differences. “Before meeting the indigenous people community at Sitio Pureg, Philippines, I expected a very different world that would be completely alien from us.” After playing with the community children, dancing with the tribal leaders, and eating and talking with his homestay family, he realized, “My homestay family was no different than any kind of family in any part of the world. The parents were just like any other parents in any other culture. The parents wanted to make us feel at home and talked about their children with pride and joy. Children played and laughed like any other children.”
The volunteer reflections draw out a simple and yet powerful point — that our natural inclination is to connect to one another because we are family.
It is meant to be that simple.
We often let our personal life experiences, the pain that we feel and cause, pretenses we build to shield ourselves, taint our natural desire to love one another.
However, programs like the Global Peace Youth Exchange breaks down these barriers, and connects young leaders with their international family, by cultivating the foundations for leadership can make that difference.