“Service – whether elected, military, faith-based, or in the non-profit sector – brings people from across the country and across the aisle together to see eye to eye and learn from each other as they work for a shared purpose.” – Fortune Magazine
A recent article in Fortune Magazine talked about the power of service to create social cohesion. The article observes that the United States is more politically divided than it has been in the last two decades. Heated partisan debates have stalled political process and divided the populous. However, Fortune writes, the millennial generation is healing the rift and they are using service to do that.
Issues like rising political uncertainty and gridlock, and religious, ethnic and national tensions are not unique to any one region of the world. Neither is the power of service to transcend these divides. When individuals of diverse backgrounds come together centered on a “shared purpose,” the difference that divide, become less significant.
The Global Peace Foundation is creating models that harness the universal power of service to build social cohesion and develop moral and compassionate leaders. One such program in Asia Pacific is Global Peace Volunteers (GPV). Through leadership camps, service projects and outdoor challenge courses, GPV is shaping young leaders in Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia.
GPV Camp is “a program that provides a platform to raise young people who can live for others and contributing to global peace. Aisyah Hanah of Malaysia University of Science and Technology said, “Youth nowadays are segregate in so many ways, they need to re-learn to have empathy and the deep sense of inter-connectedness.” The camps bring together participants from diverse backgrounds to share their unique national, religious, ethnic stories, challenge their limits and serve together.
The experience changes the concept of identity for many. Nadeyya Rahmat a participant of a GPV camp in Malaysia reflected, “My perception of other religions is changed. Despite different faith and practices we have a creator. Hence, there shouldn’t be an issue with religion.” Through serving together they begin to see more common ground than differences.
The first-hand experience of serving together for a common purpose and seeing measurable results is a powerful lesson that draws on values that connects humanity. Another participant from the GPV Camp in Malaysia said, “At this camp you learn to step back and let other people step in. And as a group you collectively achieve better results. And I think that is the start of leadership that I want to pursue.” GPV is empowering youth to connect to something larger than themselves and thereby bring unity.
Using service, programs such Global Peace Volunteers provide critical opportunities for rising young leaders to identify universal values, forge cross-cultural relationships, and gain leadership skills while making real impact.
Watch the video from GPC Malaysi