Written by Irving Weekly Staff
Ms. Kiyoka Iida,19, and Ms. Mayo Sakai, 18, of Irving, TX returned from their 21 days of overseas service work in the South American country of Argentina. Ms. Iida and Ms. Sakai were volunteers with Generation Peace Academy, which is a program of the Unification Church. In Argentina, Generation Peace Academy worked with the local Unification Church community in Buenos Aires and the Rotary Club. Iida and Sakai helped to renovate a monastery and repaint a pool for the Argentine church youth. In Ciudad Evita, with the Rotary Club, they assisted in cleaning a park and participated in the education of sustainable environmental gardening. Iida and Sakai also painted the building and worked with the children of Lobos at “Por una Sonrisa”, a small center that provided free meals for the children in the neighborhood. Later in Santa Fe, where the indigenous Mocovi tribe resides, Generation Peace Academy helped construct wooden dome structures for shelter and played with the kids there. The final project was centered in Tigre, at an Evangelical church, where they helped paint rafters for the ceiling and connected with the local youth.
Kiyoka Iida and Mayo Sakai graduated from MacArthur High School in 2012. Ms. Iida was involved in varsity Orchestra and Peer Assistant Leadership for two years, and in National Honor Society during her senior year. Iida was preparing to attend the University of Arlington, but decided she needed to create a solid foundation in her values and beliefs before attending college. She delayed her plans and joined Generation Peace Academy because she felt she needed to strengthen her character through service and the opportunities GPA provides. Ultimately, Iida wanted to improve her life of faith, to truly have ownership, and to become more confident in what she believes in.
In high school, Sakai was involved in Academic UIL activities, art competitions, and held the position of secretary for National Honors Society during her senior year. Ms. Sakai was preparing to attend the University of Texas at Arlington, but, like Iida, decided she needed to solidify her core beliefs and values before attending college. Having served through her church youth group and other organizations, Sakai felt the desire to expand her horizons and serve on an international level. By changing her college plans and joining Generation Peace Academy, Sakai hopes to improve her character to positively impact and give back to the world.
Iida and Sakai are first year participants of the program and through all the experiences until present, they have discovered more about themselves and have become inspired to continuously improve and give back. After returning home, Ms. Iida hopes to attend North Lake College to start basic courses, then transfer to University. Ms. Sakai hopes to attend University of Texas at Austin to explore and find the best means to make a lasting contribution to the community and world.
Iida felt so inspired after her experience overseas, saying, “This trip has shown me that, despite language barriers, we can still reach out and create loving relationships. Our value does not come from our environment or situation; we all have the unique value as children of God.” Sakai adds, “Suddenly the world seems smaller, because we have created relationships, and I care for their well being, as if we were a family.”
Sakai and Iida felt extremely grateful for the support of theirs parents and siblings, friends, and past teachers. Sakai goes on to say, “I can never thank God enough for everything that I have been blessed with, a loving family, an accepting church community, and all the friends and mentors that have encouraged me through life, that all I can do is offer that love to those that I meet and to the world, to help create one global family.”
Information provided by Irving Weekly.