By Jinhoon Lee
International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) is a partnership-driven youth leadership program of the Global Peace Foundation (GPF). Since its commencement in 2012, IYLA has provided young leaders with the platform to gain experience and tools to develop moral and innovative leadership and form networks to serve their own community and global society at large.
Moral and Innovative Leadership
Ami Mowris, the U.S. participant of 2018 IYLA, shared that a true leader is someone “who stands for something greater than themselves, have clear principles and values, and create or add value wherever they go.”
IYLA recognizes the value of both competence and ethics in leadership. Having competence or having the necessary skills as a leader is key to generate effective solutions for different problems that we face today. However, talent alone does not always lead to positive changes. It is only when such talent is anchored to clear moral standards that our solutions can point to an objective that is beyond ourselves and can add value to people’s lives.
“A moral leader always seek for a larger purpose, the greater good of the whole, and upholds the noble qualities of humanity in the leadership that they hold.” - Ediola Pashollari, secretary-general of the World Assembly of Youth, 2018 IYLA
Finding Common Grounds & Values
During the 2018 IYLA, Shinwon Moon, a retired captain of the U.S. Army, called on participants to find a common source of identity that could bring people together. “After emerging from the crucible of war, I have internalized a core conviction that all people – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – are all members of one human family… This core conviction can be encapsulated in a single statement: One Family under God.”
Global Peace Foundation, the organizer of IYLA, is guided by the vision of One Family Under God. This vision is rooted in the belief that we originate from the same Creator and so are endowed with our intrinsic values, dignity, and fundamental rights. Although we have an innate desire for these aspects, they are protected only when every one of us strives to grow as moral individuals that uphold this belief in our equal value as human beings. For this reason, GPF promotes programs like IYLA that strive to raise moral and innovative leaders, where they can become exemplary citizens who serve humanity in a direction where we can all live in harmony - as One Family under God.
However, it is also important to recognize that people have their own unique identities and values that are a critical part of themselves. Therefore, opportunities like IYLA brings together young leaders from different backgrounds under the shared conviction in the importance of service.
For this purpose, IYLA provides a platform for the participants to share their own ideas and learn about different perspectives. Such open conversations will allow participants to familiarize themselves with new ideas and to learn how to come to a consensus among different perspectives. Such an experience helps participants to develop their skills of interconnectedness and communication.
Discussion of Global Issues
IYLA participants share their passion for service and peace. However, with their unique experiences and skills to contribute, they come into the program with various areas of interest, whether that is in politics, family, health, religion, education, poverty aid, or any variety of fields.
In 2018, Sangwon Uhm and Jiye Kwon joined the IYLA program because of their interest in the Korean peninsula issue:
“I want to learn international insights on Korean issues, and also how other people from various countries deal with social conflicts.” —Sangwon Uhm, a participant from South Korea
“I want to learn about the Korean peninsula crisis and its issue on reunification. I want to understand how to come up with different possible approaches to the Korean peninsula issue.” —Jiye Kwon, a participant from the Philippines
The Korean peninsula conflict is one of the most pressing issues today. The importance of the issue is not only due to the nuclear threat that the north entails but also for the suffering of North Korean people.
With its connection to a global network, IYLA provides an important platform to address Korean Unification. Participants have an opportunity to learn about the issue in depth and to establish a future connection with different related programs and projects. One of the organizations involved is Action For Korea United (AKU), a coalition of 1,000 different civil society organizations in South Korea. AKU works to encourage Koreans to come together and to take an active role in their daily lives for their common vision of Korean Unification.
Many believe that a life of service only fits the book of a few. However, when we recognize that our choices have a significant influence on others and vice versa, it is important for all of us to become leaders who can work for the benefit of the whole. Only in such a lifestyle can we can move towards reducing unnecessary suffering in this world and bring peace among all nations.
“Nobody wins until we all do. That should be our focus.” —Hon, Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah, deputy speaker of Uganda parliament, 2018 IYLA
Be a part of the next International Young Leaders Assembly in Washington D.C. and New York City this August. Learn more.