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If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.
|US and St. Lucia Youth Inspire One Another|
|By Ami Stair, Generation Peace Academy|
|Tuesday, December 13, 2011|
Anse-la-Raye, St. Lucia - UPF-St. Lucia hosted 17 members of the Generation Peace Academy (GPA) who came from the United States to Anse-la-Raye on November 22 to engage in volunteer work in the community. They came with the intent to serve the people of this Caribbean nation in several ways, planning a full slate of projects spanning their three-week stay.
One of the main projects was carried out in concert with the St. Lucia Social Development Fund. The GPA members repainted run-down houses along the beach-front road where the village hosts their famous ‘Fish Friday.’ Every Friday, tourists visit the village and are treated with delicious cooked seafood. The St. Lucia Social Development Fund organized the service project with the hope that beautifying the site will encourage increased tourist activity, bringing a boost to the local economy.
The group was not in St. Lucia simply to paint houses and make the village look nice - they were also here to inspire the community and to bring a heart of service to the people of the village. With that motivation in mind, they visited the Primary School in Anse-la-Raye to teach arts and crafts, basic computer skills, character education, and physical education. Their hope was to inspire the children with an attitude of love and service, so that, in return, the village youth will develop a desire to serve others as they grow older.
The Secretary General of UPF-St. Lucia, Mr. Remy Taupier, helped the youth connect with responsible persons in the nation through the network of Ambassadors for Peace.
Together with “Sugar,” the Chairman of the Castries South/South East Youth and Sports Council, they gathered young adult leaders from the district representing different religious denominations. They mingled and engaged in discussions at the Badney Sport Centre; through interacting with each other, they could see their strengths and talents as means to serve the world and contribute to the greater good.
One participant noted: “We were able to realize the importance of taking responsibility – getting out of the mentality of dependency – not waiting for someone else to take on the challenge. We were able to inspire each other and realize new perspectives on issues facing people all around the world. There is hope for the future and it starts with the efforts we can make as youth.”
Another project the group completed was associated with St. Joseph’s Convent. Working with a class of 35 young girls 13-15 years of age, the volunteers spent a day delivering lessons on character education and abstinence. The character education focused on the importance of resisting peer pressure and realizing the true, unique value of each individual. Following the character education lesson, the volunteers shared their views on the deeper meanings of love, emphasizing the importance of being the right person rather than finding the right person. The GPA members concluded the presentation by stressing the importance of upholding a life of purity before marriage and fidelity in marriage. Focusing on the importance of personal responsibility in any relationship, they touched on the emotional benefits of abstinence and the importance of commitment. Overall, the presentation was a strong success, with many from both of the sides, students as well as volunteers, ending the day feeling deeply moved and inspired.
GPA is a one-year program offered as an educational component of Lovin’ Life Ministries, a national ministry of the Unification Church of the United States. Offered to high school graduates, the program is designed to provide young adults with opportunities to develop in faith and in character as preparation for adult life.
Reflecting on his experience thus far, one member said, “While Anse-La-Raye may be humble from a material point of view, we believe that it has the potential to become something truly great. The youth are passionate, expressive, and skilled, and we want to find a way to help them utilize their talents for the good of the community. We don’t want to just leave painted houses; we also want to leave behind something more: our hearts. And we want to leave a lasting impact. We hope that through engaging the community and through our own attitudes of selfless service and unconditional love we can inspire local youth to carry on the spirit of giving and uplift the spirit of the community themselves. Hopefully the program can come back next year and time and time again to help the youth – to plant seeds that can allow the hidden potential of this beautiful country to blossom.”