This year, for the second time since 2010, Byakko Shinko Kai invited a group of youth leaders to come to Japan, to take part in the SOPP ceremony and post-ceremony discussion, and then to present their work and experiences at a symposium in Tokyo. Six young leaders from four countries made up this year’s group of youth participants (five of whom were able to attend the SOPP ceremony). They were introduced on stage and each offered a brief message to the participants.
Ms. Barbara Arredondo (Mexico)
Barbara Arredondo is a cultural curator and journalist in the field of peace-building. Earlier this year, Barbara founded ILSTN, a design consulting agency whose objective is to curate experiences and projects that redefine human potential.
Hello. It is an honor to be here with all of you to pray for peace together. I am here from Mexico because of your love for peace and humanity, and I hope to share this beautiful experience with everyone back home. Thank you, SOPP. Thank you, Byakko Shinko Kai. Thank you, Japan!
Mr. Ben Hart (United States)
Ben Hart currently works at the Shift Network, a worldwide network based in the United States, developing virtual courses and events to support the evolution of consciousness and culture, as well as new offerings specifically for young adults.
It is truly an honor to be sharing hearts and sharing our prayers together. The power and sincerity of this community is really inspiring, and my heart is very full. I want to let you know that where I come from, in San Francisco in the United States, there are thousands and thousands of brothers and sisters who are committing their lives to peace, just as you are. I truly believe that the world of peace is being revealed each day, and with every prayer that we make. So, without a doubt, all the energy, and the love, and the inspiration here is going to be taken back to my community and into my life, and the peace ripples are going to spread outward and outward. Thank you for your hearts, and thank you for your dedication.
Ms. Daniela Arrendondo de Kehoe (Mexico / United States)
Daniela Arredondo has managed and advised start-up projects in different capacities, from a wealth management firm to an international nonprofit organization. Last year, she advised the Lincoln Center Institute’s Imagination Summit, the Newark Peace Summit, and EMV2011, and coordinated a World Economic Forum/Young Global Leaders event. Now a mother of two boys, Daniela has started a company called Kitu Kids, creating games and other content that engage children and parents in playing and learning.
Hello. My name is Daniela, and it is an honor to be here with you. I am a sister by blood of Barbara, but I am a sister in heart of Yuka, Rika, Maki, and the Saionji family. Now, I feel, you are in my heart, and you’re part of my family. Being in your presence, in such light, beauty, and prayer fills my heart, without any words to describe it. I thank you for all the years that you have been praying. I thank you for how you will continue to pray, because you fulfill our hearts on our missions. I promise you that this moment will be eternally in my heart, and will support what I want to do for children and parents. I thank you very much.
Mr. Madhusudan Agrawal (India)
Madhusudan Agrawal is a filmmaker and storyteller based in Ahmedabad, India. Together with his wife he founded MAM Movies, an organization to inspire youth to make films for social change. Currently, he is engaged in ‘Moved by Love,’ a website that features projects that are designed to shift our culture towards a greater sense of trust, connection, and community.
My dear brothers and sisters of Japan, Namaste from the dear brothers and sisters from India. I come from a place where Mahatma Gandhi lived—Gandhi-ji, who stood for peace and nonviolence all his life. Every morning, we pray there, in our small community, and today, it is an absolute honor and joy to pray together with all of you. I am deeply humbled and filled with gratitude to be present here today. I see your light, I feel your joy, I see the peace in you, and I see hope. At home, I have a one year old daughter, and when I look at her, I think to myself, ‘How can I be the peace that I wish to see in the world?’ After coming here, I realize: ‘If not me, then who? If not now, then when?’ I am so deeply moved by love from all of you that, in the presence of sacred Mount Fuji today, I make a commitment to work throughout my life for peace and oneness. May God continue to make us his instruments of peace, and May peace prevail on Earth. Namaste.
Mr. Sunny Forsyth (Australia)
Sunny Forsyth works in the field of rural development. With his colleagues, he established an organization called Abundant Water, dedicated to assisting rural people in Laos to have safe, clean drinking water.
Hello from Australia. Firstly, thank you very much to everyone for coming out today. I’ve been honored to share this with you. May I ask that you turn to the person next to you, and thank them for coming out, too? I would also like to express my gratitude in coming from Australia, having seen what Japan has been through recently. It has been humbling to see the response of the Japanese people. And personally, as I’ve become aware of the work that has been conducted by Byakko Shinko Kai over the last many decades in order to make today possible, ‘humbling’ doesn’t even express my feelings. Thank you for the inspiration, and please continue the wonderful work. Thank you.
Mr. Ocean Robbins (United States)
Ocean Robbins is an international facilitator, community builder, and organizer working at the meeting point of personal and planetary healing. In 1990, at age 16, Ocean founded Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!), which he directed for 20 years. Ocean is author of The Power of Partnership and co-author of Choices for Our Future, and is an adjunct professor in Chapman University’s Peace Studies Department.
(Ocean could not be present for the SOPP ceremony but did take part in the other events.)
A seventh youth participant, Ms. Leah Pearlman, co-founder of the Happiness Institute in San Francisco, USA, was also planning to take part in the SOPP and related events, but regretfully was unable to attend due to family matters.