SGI-USA Holds Youth Meeting and Japan-America Student Friendship Exchange
On May 29, at the World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, California, some 900 youth members attended the SGI-USA Youth Leaders Meeting and participated in a Japan-America Friendship Exchange. SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda attended both events on behalf of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and conveyed a message from him to the youth, in which he gave several guidelines for becoming true leaders who can work for peace.
The friendship exchange meeting was led by SGI-USA student leaders and Soka Gakkai youth leaders from Japan who spoke about the importance of study and perseverance toward constructing the future on both an individual and a global level. Among gifts presented to representatives of SGI-USA student and youth members by the delegation from Japan were a statue of a young eagle and a large hand-made card containing photos of Japanese youth members and handwritten messages such as "Let's do our best for peace," and "We're all in this together."
In return, the SGI-USA student and youth members presented a clock to be given to SGI President Ikeda, inscribed with the words "Our New Clear Future" representing the countdown to the year 2030, the year they have set as their goal for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
At the youth meeting, SGI-USA Young Men's Leader David Witkowski said that "The future will be determined by the passion of youth" and spoke of the value of encouraging others in helping them to achieve their goals. SGI member Conny Kull-Vu shared that she was able to unite her family at the time of her father's death by "striving through adversity while working wholeheartedly" to realize her goals through the application of her Buddhist practice.
In his message marking the occasion, SGI President Ikeda said, "The power to move the times always comes from achieving a transformation right where you are," and in entrusting that task to young people he encouraged attendees to become trustworthy people within their communities. He also encouraged youth to embody the ideal of building a peaceful society and to possess courage, value unity and become people who can illuminate darkness through speaking out against falsity and injustice, all based on the mentor-disciple relationship.
SGI-USA Youth Leader Nathan Gauer announced that, as a step toward world peace and achieving the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2030, events centered around the antinuclear exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" will be organized by SGI student members throughout 2011.
In his speech to youth members, Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda encouraged all present to "become youth who take action" to create world peace, which SGI-USA Young Women's Leader Vinessa Shaw described as a world in which every type of culture comes together.
Both meetings included a variety of cultural performances from hip-hop and hula to taiko drumming, singing and gymnastics.
[Adapted from articles in the June 10, 2011, issue of the World Tribune SGI-USA; photos courtesy SGI-USA]