What is peace? In a city long suffering from violence and racial tension, the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) founded the True Family Values (TFV) Awards Banquet in Chicago, Illinois in 1996 to promote interfaith and intercultural education.
On October 19, 2019, the 24th TFV Awards Banquet was a 'Peace Starts With Me' Gala and JAM Concert attended by 1,300 people of different backgrounds and co-hosted by Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Read more about the Banquet here. This year, the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) Grand Rapids brought 26 students to the Gala from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
CARP Grand Rapids took the Gala as an opportunity to experience a culture of heart and peace, one that lives for the sake of others, and invited their members and friends on a road trip to Chicago to see peace in action. Twenty-two students came from Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and four from other colleges in Grand Rapids.
“It was my pleasure to travel with the GRCC Chapter of CARP to the Chicago Gala and Jam at the Chicago Marriott on Saturday, October 19, 2019. The day began with a fine lunch and program, which included adult leaders from the Chicago area and beyond as well as young people from Chicago and beyond who spoke, danced, and sang representing the best of what CARP has to offer. The central message was clear: we can change the world if we believe that we are purposeful in our individual intentions of purpose in the world. Believing in ourselves creates unspeakable power for good. Loving ourselves and through that love living a life of service to others can institute positive change in our world. It all begins with each individual. What I always enjoy about being the faculty sponsor for the GRCC chapter of CARP is seeing young people discover who they are and what their purpose is in the world. This was on display in a mass way at this event, which attracted hundreds of young people from throughout the greater Chicago area and around the Midwest. When one sees the intentionality, that one is trying to live on display among hundreds of young people and adults, it becomes an inspiration that can give one a sense of one’s own life purpose and be an encouragement to persevere towards your own personal goals and hopes for the world. I am grateful to have been able to attend this event.” —Dr Stephen Barton, CARP GRCC Faculty Advisor
“My overall experience was very exciting and interesting. A highlight for me during the trip was how you could feel positivity radiate in the room and how lively it felt with the music. The most memorable thing for me was one speech about how he traveled the world when he was young and was approached by a thief in the middle of a dangerous city at night. How he ended up remaining calm and began talking to the man. He learned more about why the man was even stealing in the first place; the man had to in order to take care of his family. The speaker realized that this person was actually just another brother that is hurting and in need instead of someone trying to hurt him. In the end, instead of reacting poorly like how he could’ve, they ended up learning more about each other and getting along. What I learned from that story was that it isn’t just about treating people how you want to be treated and moving on with life but more about how we should all treat each other like we are one big family and work together continuously to create better peace in our society.” —Britney Tran, Sophomore, GRCC
“Going to Chicago with CARP was a fun and great experience! Seeing the young people motivated and focused on the motivating messages given by inspirational people was something awesome to see.” —Renato Guillen, Sophomore, GRCC
“It was great seeing community leaders feed us with inspiration and motivation. I was also happy to see my friend perform a great speech. I felt honored to have been part of the Chicago "Peace Starts With Me Gala.” —Clément Wilonja, GRCC
“I didn't know what to expect from this event but, once I got there I was amazed. I had a superb experience; it felt so peaceful and inspiring. My biggest highlight was the tumbling [Chicago Tumblers]. It was very graceful and exciting to watch. It got me pumped. Another highlight were the speeches that were given; they were really inspiring and heartwarming. Going to this event helped me reinforce some of my principles that I live by and also reignited the flame of creating peace around the world. I think moving forward, I want to put more effort into creating peace around me from a grassroots level then eventually on to a larger scope.” —Doomyong Amisi, Sophomore, GRCC
“One of my highlights from the Peace Starts With Me Gala in Chicago was the Soul Children of Chicago singing The Climb while the audience was waving the light from the phones and singing along. At that moment, I felt a lot of peace and love in the room. At that moment, it didn’t matter where everyone came from; it just mattered that we were singing with one voice. I think if there’s going to be peace in the world, music is going to play a significant role in it. I hope more people can get on board with the Peace Starts With Me movement that Dr. Moon is leading around the world. I think it’s empowering when we come to understand that our actions as individuals have the power to shift the course of our society.” —Josue Kisile, Junior, Davenport University
“I was truly amazed at how beautifully set this event was. From the organization to the message given by our elder sister Dr. Sun Jin Moon to the entertainment, everything was just flowing. Sun Jin Moon talked about how to make our world a better place in the midst of the negativity going on in our society. The answer was ‘peace starts with me’, to make our community around us better and to embrace everyone as brothers and sisters. Additionally, seeing our Grand Rapids crew enjoying the program just as much as I did was even more touching. I had a chance to talk to one of them at work, and she was constantly thanking me for inviting her and kept telling everyone to take part in the next event and how amazing it was. For me, having someone to testify about the content of the Gala to others was so impressive and this gives me the courage to keep on working and invite more people.” —Cynthia Konan, graduate, Davenport University
“This was an awesome experience of love at a level of 10! I cried in honor of those who have sacrificed to clear the path for peace; I pondered on wisdom; I heard and witnessed praise in honor of God! My soul leaped with Joy. I met some beautiful people who I would be honored and would love to call family. Thank you a million for the invitation to join you in this awesome atmosphere of Praise and Honor.”—Winifred Simon, Friend of CARP Grand Rapids
Peace is something we create within ourselves first, and share with the world around us. Taking the initiative to positively impact the community is something that resonates with the students of GRCC and participating in this gala was the first step into making this vision a reality. Because of the students from Grand Rapids, their friends, the people they care about, could have an uplifting experience and share deeper bonds with each other. This is the power of sharing and reaching out.
These students heard about this event and thought about who they knew that would benefit and made the effort to reach out. This is living for the sake of others, and it is a culture practiced in CARP.