Monday, May 6, 2019

Asia Pacific Regional Gathering (APRG) 2019

The APRG is a biannual gathering which is hosted by the Asia Pacific Coordination Group (APCG) members, under Initiatives of Change (IofC). It was held in South Korea from 27 April to 1 May, 2019. This gathering is aimed at listening to updates from each member of IofC in Asia Pacific regions, to discuss current issues around the region, to select the members of APCG, and to build connections and collaboration among the regions. APRG is also a space for national teams to share skills programs and to reconnect for fellowship. This year’s gathering was attended by delegates from Australia, Cambodia, Hongkong, Fiji/India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

As part of the IofC culture, we started each day with Inner Listening. One of the quiet time inputs was “Only an open gate can receive visitors, only open hands can receive gifts, only an open mind can receive wisdom, only an open heart can receive love; as Joan Walsh Anglund said, “How does this relate to you?” One participant said, “Being open can be defined in two different ways; being open to share ideas and being open to accept feedback. I have learned to be more open and to try to attack fear of being hurt when I am open with people around me.” Through inner listening sessions, we were reminded to speak to ourselves so we don’t miss the conversations with the great personality, ourselves. As a final point, each of us learned we should take time with ourselves (connection), find out what we need to put right (correction), and follow our heart so that we can know which way we should go from our darkness (direction).

It has also been a great journey for APCG members in the past 2 years; supporting teams and programs in Asia Pacific regions. Having outreach programs were more than visiting the local team, but to listen to voices from more different people, to find out the needs and resources from the team, and to build fellowship.

Mohan Bhagwandas, from Australia, led the session on sharing the journeys of Frank Buchman.  He also spoke about Frank Buchman’s way of working in which he used all kinds of resources (personal background, religious perspective) in introducing his movement. The highlights of this session were to let people know what we have been and are doing (the message) and how people put trust in what we are doing (financial supports).

Mounir Beltaifa, from Tunisia/France, the vice president of IofC international said, “Building personal communication is very important. Yet, we cannot deny that we also need to build more communication from institutions to other institutions, it can simply be said as building networking. Mayur Shah, from India, an International Council (IC) member said, “We engage with young people because it is essential to listen to them and inspire them to be a part of the movement.” At the end of the session, Mounir talked about how to reach the business and government sectors. “Business has more and more influence on the government. If we still want to change the world, we need to reach both business and government. Overall, we can build cooperation by building partnership with business councils, CSR departments, and governments.” We had an informal meeting with MRA/IofC Korea circles. This session was also a space for some friends to have a reunion and to make new friends.

It has been an honour for APRG team to visit the National Assembly House. We had a chance to meet the Deputy Speaker of Parliament House, MP Lee, Ju-Young, who has been part of MRA/IofC since 1969. We talked about how we bring the ideas and spirit of IofC globally. Then, we visited Ganghwa Peace Observatory. This building is to promote mutual understanding between South and North Korea and to build a unified Korea which will create peace and prosperity.

We were given time to share the national team updates. Every team in the region is unique and they also have their own challenges. We believe that any challenges we face, will help us grow. Each national team has different programs which are based on the concerns and needs of its country. IofC Indonesia presentation focuses on initiatives of a young team in spreading the IofC cores and running programs such as: Family Workshop, Teachers’ Camp, Youth Leadership Camp, and Leadership Workshop.

With the spirit of discussion, consultation, and consensus process, we select the new members: Kim Vuth (Cambodia), Tony Amar (New Zealand), Yofrina Octika Gultom (Indonesia), Yeonyuk Jeong (South Korea), Elise Collins (Australia) till APRG 2023, and Nigel Heywood (Australia) from January 2020 till APRG 2023. Two members continue to serve are Siddharth Singh (India) till APRG 2021 and Patrick Sta Maria (Malaysia) till December 2019.

In the end, we reflected on what we could bring home to the regions after APRG. Many thoughts, ideas and concerns were raised in the APRG; by listening to the inner voice and putting thoughts into actions, that we were filled with hope, prayer, and care. We also thanked the IofC Korea for their warm welcomes and great hospitality and that we had amazing moments.

Reported by Yofrina Octika Gultom