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Foundation sponsors The 21st Annual National Service-Learning Conference in San Jose, California

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The Foundation sponsored the world’s largest National Service-Learning conference from March 24-27 in San Jose.  The 21st Annual National Service-Learning Conference with its message this year – Inspire. Imagine. Innovate – celebrated service-learning as a force that builds communities, while nurturing strong and compassionate young people.

The conference attracted more that 2,500 youth and practitioners involved in service-learning from all over the world. The three days offered general sessions, more than 100 exhibits, 150 hands-on workshops and service-learning projects.

5This year’s conference featured distinguished speaker Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in creativity, innovation and human resources, as well as Talia Leman, CEO and Founder of RandomKid, Carol Bellamy, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Education for All/Fast Track Initiative, and our very own Haru Inouye, CEO of the Shinnyo-en Foundation gave an inspirational speech that emphasized the commitment of the Foundation to further service-learning and the importance of bringing about peace through service – resulting in a standing ovation!

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As an event sponsor, Shinnyo-en Foundation was very prominent in its contributions to the conference with a booth, speaking engagements, a workshop, and recognitions made at all of the major events of the conference.

4The Foundation staff welcomed six Shinnyo-en Young Adults, David Haro, Noriko Baldwin, Florence Hsueh, Alisa Torres, Sean Compton, and Michelle Lagrimas from several locations across the United States.  Shinnyo-en sponsored these young men and women to help them further their knowledge of, and commitment to service-learning.

Before jumping straight into the conference, the Young Adults took part in a special orientation seminar hosted by Haru.  Over lunch, Haru and staff helped them to develop a better understanding of the work and philosophy of the Foundation. Special guest Nan Peterson and Julie Bascom gave some insight on the subject of service-learning through their extensive experience in service and volunteerism at their respective schools.  And Steve Herrera drew upon his knowledge as the Deacon/Immersion Coordinator at the Diocese of San Jose, to share with them the value of learning through service.

The first full day of the conference got off to an exciting start as world-famous and internationally recognized leader in the development of innovation and human resources Sir Ken Robinson greeted attendees. He talked about creativity and innovation to help young people channel their energy into their communities.  He said that he found hope for the future in the courageous ways young people are changing the world.

Throughout the Conference, the Exhibit Hall was open to showcase service-learning and education-oriented nonprofits, companies working with the service-learning movement, and national service organizations.

1The Sunnyvale Middle School Symphonic Ensemble performed the Foundation’s Six Billion Paths to Peace Songs at an opening ceremony.

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But the true heart of the conference were the workshops and seminars. The Foundation’s “Six Billion Path’s to Peace” workshop showcased the Foundation’s main initiative that urges people to reflect upon how their daily actions can contribute to global harmony and peace. More than 80 participants attended and many felt inspired by the message of peace.YA 4SQ

As an off-site project the Young Adults along with Foundation board member Nichelle Blanco, Shinnyo Fellow Sara Mizner, and Foundation intern Aki Kishihara went to the Sacred Heart Community Center in San Jose.  Steve Herrera, friend and partner to the Foundation, arranged and accompanied the team on this visit.  The Young Adults learned about the heart of service and went straight to work bagging potatoes and sorting through huge piles of used clothing.

Sacred Heart Wide II

The final full day of the conference concluded with the Young Adults and Foundation staff attending the World Forum to learn about how youth service and service-learning were forces that spanned cultural and national boundaries, while building communities and strengthening young people. The Young Adults also discovered how service-learning is implemented throughout the world. Haru was the opening speaker and he reminded all the participants at the World Forum that “KINDNESS HAS NO BORDERS.”

It was truly an inspiring three days for all those in attendance and refueled the level of energy and commitment to support, maintain, and further service-learning.