Middle East: UPF Ambassadors for Peace Seminar in Rome

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By UPF Middle East, Umberto Angelucci: In order to strengthen the Ambassadors for Peace foundation made after many years of dedication by the staff of UPF all over the Middle East, it was decided that advanced education was necessary. Over the years each country in the Middle East has appointed numerous Ambassadors for Peace but we have not been able to create a unified spirit among those people. Some are faithful but working alone and others have a local chapter but have not been properly empowered. In order to empower these people and create a more effective workforce we understood that advanced and contemporary education was necessary. For these reasons we decided to gather the APs and some of the UPF Chapter Leaders together with our second generation to attend an advanced educational seminar.

As the cool autumn breeze blew over the hills surrounding the ancient city of Rome, Ambassadors for Peace (APs), and staff gathered to review the Principles of Peace and current activities of UPF worldwide from October 29 – November 1 at the UPF National Office at Colle Mattia, Rome.

This seminar was an advanced educational seminar with the theme, “Applying the Principle-Practical Solutions for the Middle East”. Among the 23 participants were APs from Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan and Turkey as well as National representatives and young second generation staff. At one session, Italian APs joined us as well as the Italian UPF Staff. The international and intercontinental interaction proved to be both stimulating and empowering.

We started our seminar with a brainstorming session which allowed the Ambassadors to share from their wealth of experience for all to gain a greater awareness of what was presently happening in the region. We followed that with, A Report from the Recent Events in Korea, given by Marilyn Angelucci, the wife of the Regional President, which gave us an opportunity to share the guidance given by True Mother and our International President. Next was a presentation by the UPF Secretary General of the Middle East, David Fraser Harris, which made the Principle of Creation real and applicable in our lives. Following that was a lecture about the Destruction of the Family and how the Blessing of our True Parents is the only solution and necessary for all of us. It was truly amazing how all the participants willingly and gratefully received the content. Rehab Bitar, a Syrian lawyer and artist commented, “I am so grateful to have this deeper insight into the true mission of the UPF founder, now I can clearly explain when the people ask me about UPF and Father Moon.”

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The first day culminated with an interactive session between the Ambassadors from the Middle East and ten local Italian APs. Both groups shared their experiences in the field and this helped them understand how to network and support each other’s work. Reports were given by Mr. Pak, Vice President of Middle East Region, about his work with the Syrian refugees and also from Rehab Bitar, a Syrian lawyer, who also has been working with the Syrian Refugees in Lebanon for the last four years. Also from Italy, Giuseppe Cali President of FFWPU and Betty Nistri, President of WFWP, both shared about their work in their respective fields. Giorgio Gasperoni, UPF Secretary General, San Marino, explained about his extensive intercultural work between the Italians and Israeli young people. This was meant to be a foundation to expand our work in conjunction with the European movement.

The next day began with a moving presentation by the Regional President, Umberto Angelucci, covering the Legacy of our Founder. Starting with the beginning his life in North Korea and explaining the sacrifice that serves as the foundation for the work that followed, he shared his own personal enlightenment and growth that came through his personal relationship with Father Moon. The audience, with open hearts, responded and was moved to tears at special moments. This was the high point of the seminar, where the Ambassadors could make that heartistic connection with the Founder and understood deeply the incredible sacrifice behind UPF. When the guest from Egypt was asked for his honest feedback, he said, “I only have one word, tears.”

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This was followed by a presentation by Giorgio Gasperoni, explaining in more detail the numerous projects that have been organized by his staff to support projects in the Middle East. This gave the Ambassadors a chance to see the countless possibilities there are to cooperate between the Italian peninsular and the Middle East. Following the same theme of applying the Principle David Fraser Harris continued with a presentation, “Using the Principle to Resolve Conflict”. At the conclusion of this presentation during the break one Ambassador asked the writer, “Please help me to forgive my sister, I need your help.” This proves that the contents of this lecture also touched the hearts and minds of the participants in a truly practical way.

The third day finished with brainstorming and making a Strategic Action Plan for all of the Ambassadors from the Middle East. This session was led by Hod Benzvi, senior advisor UPF-Israel, and many productive suggestions came up and each made a determination to do more. Regular online meetings, more Peace Ambassador Seminars, Regular regional meetings, expansion which means translating the material to Arabic, Creating a Cultural Center for Syrian Women and Children, Using the Media more effectively, spreading UPF educational material to the community leaders and using the UPF webpage to report our activities. Each declared what they would do as they returned to their countries. The day ended with the appointment of two new Ambassadors for Peace, Ilik and David Ashkenazi, entrepreneurs who have been supporting our peace work for many years in Israel.

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That evening we spent some time to entertain each other with some games and sharing our cultures together. We danced and sang but also this created a situation to talk more deeply about our nations and the realistic situation we face. Through this we no longer saw each other as Israeli or Lebanese or Jordanian but as brothers and sisters working for a better world.

The last day we went to Rome together to do sightseeing and spend some time together. Seeing the sights and having time to communicate personally helped to deepen our bonds. Seeing the sights of Rome gave them a different perspective. They could see another culture that could give them hope that their countries could also become like this if we could stop the senseless fighting. Peace is the only way for us to develop the Middle East and this became obvious as they toured around the beauty of Rome.

We credit the success of our seminar to the sincere dedication of all our staff members. We are sincerely grateful to the support and cooperation of the Italian UPF and the staff at Colle Mattia. Also our own staff consisted of our core leaders in the Middle East as well as two of our elder second generation, Koriel Benzvi, MC for the seminar and Jourie Fraser Harris, supporting staff. With the cooperation of the first and second generation we found a harmony that inspired the participants especially to see the dedication of the children of our core staff. There was a beautiful synergy that was felt by all. We are proud of our second generation, whose skills were essential to our seminar’s success.

In conclusion, we were so satisfied at the end to feel the deep bonds that were created centering on the vison and heart of our True Parents. We felt that the Ambassadors for Peace had reached a new level, a new level not just in understanding but also in their dedication and devotion to the work of our True Parents. Each one left feeling called to do something in their countries and to continue networking and supporting each other in carrying on Father Moon’s legacy.

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Reflections from the Ambassadors

A Businesswoman from Israel: “This seminar gave me much food for thought for my personal and public life. In Addition it was an opportunity to learn about the importance of this organization and its activities around the world. It’s a great honor to be part of this life work of Dr. Moon and His family. The lecturers brought me to tears and were so inspiring. We will take with us the advice of the seniors and will build a better future.”

A Retired NGO Activist from Egypt: “Very much touched by the presentation of Umberto Angelucci and David Fraser Harris on True Parents and Divine Principle. I felt this time that the messages were received better by the attendees because of the limited numbers and the ambiance of the family reflected by the place of the meeting and the sincerity of the speakers.”

A Catholic Theologian and Journalist from Lebanon: “This was a good convention about the relationship between the theoretical aspects of Peace and the practical ones. I realize, thanks to this convention, the impact of reconciliation, of our minds and our hearts, in our different societies, families and countries. We have to count on our knowledge and our will to fulfill more activities”

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