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Working for the Greater Good: My Experiences on RYS

- Hye Sung

Throughout my childhood I had not seen much of my father due to his work. Birthdays and holidays in my house had been fatherless countless of times. As the international director of the Religious Youth Service, he was called to serve all over the world for weeks at a time. As I got older, I had several chances to tag along and serve beside my father.

The Religious Youth Service (RYS) is an organization affiliated and funded by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The RYS does not condone a certain religion or faith but brings people of all religions, cultures and races together to do service work worldwide, which fosters bonds between all people. Going on RYS had actually sparked my interest in religion, for I met people of all different faiths and lifestyles. I came to realize the beauty in the teachings of all world religions and the beauty in the practices and ideas of different cultures while on RYS.

My father has traveled to over 180 countries for his work, building schools, wells, hospitals as well as distributing medicines, cleaning up disaster-hit areas and teaching character education. I myself had been to Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Trinidad & Tobago and South Korea with RYS. One of my deepest experiences on RYS was in Diana, Paraguay, a village along the Pantanal inhabited by the native Ishír people.

The people in Diana had spoken Chamacoco and knew little Spanish, and only a few of the RYS Volunteers could speak Spanish, so we had little communication done through words. Not only did we not speak the same language, but our cultures were totally different. They had unique religious beliefs that combineded folk traditions and Catholicism; only two families in the village had a radio; and the average age to have your first child was 17. But as corny and cliché as it is, we all had hearts and that was all we needed to relate. As we built their school, they brought us cups of water (from our own supply, we would go ill if we drank their water) and offered to help. On our breaks we would play games with the kids and dance with them, they would give us hugs and massages, and we attempted to speak to each other in broken Spanish (and I was renamed ‘Edison’ for my name was too difficult). Incredible gratitude and an unimaginable joy were shown by the kids, the village teacher and the village as we presented the kids with books and clothes and their new school.

Service work is one of the greatest ways to grow your heart and broaden your understanding of this world. RYS got me to leave behind my comfort zone and work beside people of all backgrounds to simply bring joy to others and make this world a better place to live in. I may of not have changed the world, but I am sure that the volunteers and I certainly had changed the world of those disadvantaged we had served.

For more information:

Religious Youth Service FAQ

News and details to my trip to Paraguay

More details on my trip

Goals and visions of RYS




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