- Written by Tyler Hendricks and Henry Christopher
Our new term at Barrytown is getting off to a great start. We have an entering class of 16 new students from twelve countries around the world.
Anastasia Dragan, a Lutheran from Moldova, in her first week at UTS went on a local Woodstock TV station interview with two other new students. During that interview, she said, “We talked about peace and the power of prayer. I said I had a cultural shock being in the US for the first time. People are friendlier, more open and more honest, and have a deeper faith than what we were told about Americans in Europe. It’s my feeling that the American people seem to be closer to God, whereas people in Europe are closer to religious tradition. Here at UTS so far my experience has been perfect. I am enjoying being here. Everyone is so open and ready to help. I feel very safe at UTS. There are only a few places in my life that I have felt this way. I feel it here.”
“There are three reasons why I came here,” Ms. Dragan says, “One, I think being here will bring me closer to God and strengthen my faith. Two, to have more knowledge about the Unification theology and Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Three, to get my masters degree in Divinity.” Her father is the top Lutheran leader in her country, and as an Ambassador for Peace she has experience in interfaith and service organizations.
UTS also welcomes Paul Rajan, an Anglican from India who has for the past ten years planted numerous churches in New Zealand.
At the age of 19 Mr. Rajan completed his BA of Theology, with which he did non-denominational Christian ministry work for two decades. “But there was an urge in me to reach the contemporary society with a message of God’s love in a way more adequate,” he says. “And, having pioneered a couple of organizations, I couldn’t find the time to do the masters on a part time basis, so I considered coming to UTS as God’s calling, God’s opportunity, to stay on the UTS campus and complete my graduate work. I feel very much at home here and I consider everyone as a member of my family, as they have the same vision and mission after the Seminary, which is spreading God’s love. ”
UTS also welcomes Oznur Aycil, a young Muslim from Turkey, a young woman who is an Ambassador for Peace and very bright and committed to interfaith peacebuilding.
“My educational background and experiences both in Turkey and America,” Oznur say, “taught me a lifelong lesson. If you want to be successful in any phase of life, and happy within the community you live, you have to know more about cultural diversity—not on a level which is only limited with stereotypes and preconceived notions—but on the deeper level of what people really think, believe, act, perceive, and respond to in the framework of their own culture’s values and worldview. That’s why I came to UTS, because I have the desire to learn about cultural diversity, and appreciate Allah for making me meet his diverse creations. I want to make a success of this interreligious peace building program. There are many appealing and interesting courses, which apply to today’s real living traditions, religions, and social and political situations.
“So far, I have met very nice, friendly people and professors… I love the UTS campus, staff, and learning everyday new things and I am trying to establish my vision for the future with this peacebuilding program. I pray I will be among the peacemakers in the world, in my work, in different communities, in my family, and also as a wife and mother in the future. In the meantime, I want to develop my relationship with Almighty God, (Allah) and with the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) along with learning peacemaking subjects on the campus.”
UTS also welcomes Miri Kamar, an Israeli who has been very active with the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI). Ms. Kamar says about her coming to study at UTS, “I am grateful to Rev. Moon and his wife who gave me this life time opportunity to be embraced by so much love. We are walking in the realm of love here at UTS, surrounded by beautiful nature and good hearted people from all over the world.”
Direct from Africa we welcome new students Danwere Sou from Burkina Faso and Michel Kahandja from D.R. Congo. Rounding out the entering class is a Unification Church leader from Bolivia, Neptaly Barreto, Zoltan Zalahegyi, a legal studies scholar from Hungary, and two young leaders from the Washington, D.C. area, Chisoni Ngoma, who has been the Universal Peace Federation local leader in Washington, and Mabau Ilemabila, who has been serving as the Unification Church pastor in Baltimore. Mr. Ilemabila has served for many years internationally, including missions in Japan, Korea, the D.R. Congo, his native country, and America.
UTS welcomes several Unificationist youth. From America, Daniel Elder, from Japan, Masafuku Oyamada, and Koreans Sungwoog Hwang, who graduated this year from Bridgeport University, Junho Lee, the KEA Church leader from New Jersey, and Keum Ju Kim who arrived from Korea’s Sun Moon University. Our final student of note, Rev. Kevin Thompson, former Unification Church pastor in the Bay Area Family Church, sums up the beautiful spirit of the new students as he explains that all the UTS alumni he has asked tell him that the greatest gift they took away from UTS was life-long friendships. Kevin says he is here to make friends, and it appears that there are many excellent ones to be made.
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