SGI Youth from Brazil and US Celebrate First Youth Exchange
From June 21-24, SGI youth members took part in the first US-Brazil Youth Exchange. Aiming to celebrate and build ties of friendship between the two countries, the exchange was held in Southern California. The Brazilian delegation of some 70 people included the Ikeda Humanism Brazilian Philharmonic Orchestra, SGI-Brazil youth leaders, SGI-Brazil General Director Julio Kosaka, and Brazilian composer and concert pianist Amaral Vieira.
On June 22, the SGI-Brazil youth members were welcomed by their American counterparts to five exchange meetings held at local SGI-USA centers in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Torrance, and Panorama City. The Brazilian members shared personal accounts of the positive impact their Buddhist practice has had on their lives and described various activities they are involved in as members of SGI-Brazil. Carlos Mitsugi, SGI-Brazil Cultural Coordinator, described one such meeting at the Santa Monica Center as a "meeting of the Americas" and emphasized the importance of such exchanges toward strengthening understanding across borders.
On June 23, the Ikeda Humanism Brazilian Philharmonic Orchestra performed to an audience of some 1000 people at the SGI-USA World Culture Center in Santa Monica. The orchestra was founded by SGI President Ikeda in 1993 as a means to promote peace, culture and education in society through the power of music.
The orchestra also performed at Soka University of America’s Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo on June 24, following the First Annual Ikeda Youth Ensemble National Competition. The competition brought together youth members from all over the US to perform in five categories: Brass Band, Chorus, Dance, Fife and Drum Corps, and Taiko. Medals were given to the members of the winning group in each category, with additional awards for such achievements as “Most Original,” “Most Heart,” “Most Swagalicious” and “Most Technically Ambitious Performance.”
In his message to the youth representatives from Brazil and the US gathered at the Soka Performing Arts Center, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda said, "I want all of you . . . to show just how strong, how wise, and how great one human being can become. I want you to show just how much you can create and develop a united network of justice and peace."
In closing remarks, SGI-Brazil's National Youth Advisor and the SGI-USA Youth Leader reiterated the theme of building ties of friendship as the bedrock upon which a peaceful world can be built.
[Adapted from articles in the June 29, 2012, and July 6, 2012 issues of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of SGI-USA]