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Our Beginning of the Journey as Shinnyo Fellows at George Mason University

September 20, 2011, George Mason University

The announcement of selection for the fellowship with the Shinnyo-en Foundation was an incredible addition to our lives. At the beginning, we were focused individually on how our perspectives of peace influenced the path we might take in our community efforts.  We have such divergent backgrounds and experiences which create the unique lenses we see others through.  However, our introduction to Shinnyo-en Foundation’s (SEF) Six Billion Paths to Peace Initiative allows us to utilize our own journey and personal narrative; adding our light to the sum of light.

Professor Elavie Ndura

Professor Elavie Ndura

It was an incredible honor to meet the Shinnyo-en Foundation’s Vice President, Reverend Tsutomu Ben Takagi and Program Director, Dr. Ineko Tsuchida. Their presentations helped us learn not only about the importance and prestige of this fellowship but also about the expectations and opportunities associated with it. We were inspired to learn that each of our projects is magnificent in one way or another. Every step we take towards building our communities into harmonious environments is tremendous in fostering a foundation for the larger movement and consciousness raising. Every attempt we make to understand and trust that peace is essential for a healthier globalized world is in itself dynamic growth.

2010-2011 Shinnyo Fellow Hale Inanoglu

As we, the fellows, walked under the soft rain to the luncheon, we noticed a remarkably quick bond between us. We hope to grow as strong fellows and friends. As we entered the banquet room, we were surprised to have been joined by so many esteemed guests, including George Mason University (GMU) Provost Peter Stearns, College of Education & Human Development (CEHD) Dean Mark Ginsberg, GMU Faculty Senate Chair Peter Pober, members of the GMU-SEF Advisory Board, and a number of faculty and students representing various academic units and the broad GMU community. Walking into the room made us feel special, appreciated, and most importantly, supported. We felt like we were part of something essential to academia, community, and the human heart. Hearing from the Shinnyo Fellowship alumni helped relieve any anxiety we may have had and surely answered many questions. We walked out of the luncheon motivated and eager to begin our projects immediately. The roots and fruits activities allowed us to learn more about ourselves, our histories and our futures. The brainstorming activity helped us to fine tune our project ideas and craft concentrated objectives. As the 2011-2012 Shinnyo Fellows, making an impact is not our ultimate aim, but becoming influential to our generation and a generation to come is our dream. The Shinnyo-en Foundation is helping us believe in our own confidence by providing the opportunity for us to make our ideas and dreams into a reality.

This article was contributed by 2011-2012 Shinnyo Fellows (Fatimeh Shamseddine, Terra Tolley, and Doug Hernandez) and Professor Elavie Ndura, the advisor to the Shinnyo Fellows.