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North American Region Educators' Conference

A conference was held for educators in the North American region on April 18-19, 2009, at regional headquarters. Eight members from around the region attended, along with our Regional Director Fujisaki, and Kitatani Hosa and Viviano Shocho, the staff members for the regional educators' group. For those who are interested in nurturing young people, we hope you will find this synopsis and the links at the end of it to further information helpful.

Our regional director began the conference with a study class on the New Year's message and the 2009 teaching for youth. He guided us that God-first education is very important to the future of the world. To become a true yokoshi, let us joyfully offer service to God, cultivate the spirit of service and truly become pioneers of the art of True Light. These are the tools given by the creator God to Sukuinushisama. How we handle life's problems will depend on the innermost attitude with which we practice faith directed toward God and the direction that we choose to follow in life. We yokoshi have to choose the positive way. Gloominess and negativity do not lead to good solutions. To become a true yokoshi, have a positive innermost attitude, use positive language, and do positive actions. We should strive every day before the 50th anniversary ceremony for Sukyo Mahikari in November 2009 to become a true yokoshi.


The Virtues ProjectTM Update:  Tina Viviano

An update was given of The Virtues ProjectTM. Viviano Shocho has taken training to become a certified facilitator of this program and to be able to give classes. An excerpt from their website ( says:

The Virtues ProjectTM offers personal and professional development programs, training, and materials which are inspiring people around the globe. It was founded in 1991 by three concerned individuals who felt called to do something to counteract rising violence among youth and families. Researching the world's sacred texts, they discovered something simple and profound. At the heart of all spiritual traditions are virtues, described as the essence of the human spirit and the content of our character. A guide containing fifty-two of these universal virtues was published to help parents bring out the best in their children and in themselves. Five Strategies were developed to restore the practice of virtues in everyday life. Other books and support materials followed as word of The Virtues Project spread. During the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat and World Conference of Cities and Corporations honored The Virtues Project as "a model global program for families of all cultures."

In 2009, the Detroit center educator's group will introduce The Virtues ProjectTM to the parents, the schools, and the community in our area. The first classes in this project will be given in Chicago in August 2009, and in 2010, it is hoped the classes can be given at other centers. If you are interested in further information, please contact Viviano Shocho at the Detroit center.


We then had a talk by Robin Kagan from New York on "Creating a Spirit-First Classroom." She gave this quotation  from the late Chaim Ginott, a school principal and psychologist:


I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It's my personal approach that creates the climate.  It's my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.


A sincere teacher who prays takes action, reflects, gets creative with the teachings, has fun with the teachings, and goes to the center regularly to give Light will have positive results. Be aware of your vibration, words, body language, tone of voice, and actions. Watch the effect that they have on the students.


Set short-term and long-term class goals and personal goals. A teacher's personal goals should be to: Be a role model. Balance firm discipline with humility, love, and humbleness. Practice the teachings in daily life. Go to the center and give Light regularly. Give Light daily in the classroom and school. Guide teachers. Be bright and helpful to peers.


To nurture a spirit-first child: Improve their self-esteem by helping them to learn who they are, noticing their positive traits, and helping them list traits that they would like to improve.


Discussion started with reports from all participants on some of the ways that the teachers have practiced spirit-first education in their classrooms: One teacher prays for the children as she drives to class each day and prays for their ancestors also. Another teacher felt that this year he wanted to increase his Light-giving at the center. One teacher said that she was implementing the teachings in her college classroom with very good results. One teacher who teaches high school is very open about talking about the Light. He has taught there for many years and has done many experiments with giving Light to food. Other teachers were also doing experiments giving Light to food, and plants; one experiment was giving positive words to one plant and negative words to another and noting the difference. One teacher said that she noticed that the children really reflected her innermost attitude, so she has been working on elevating her attitudes to avoid judgment or complaint.


We then heard reports of the Nurturing the Youth Program at the centers:

  • Seattle:  The youth group creates a play activity for the children and uses these to communicate some aspect of the teachings in a way that young children could understand. They will also do marching training and community activities, such as clean up day.
  • San Francisco: After hearing the presentation on the North American Region Nurturing the Youth Program, we started the five groups meeting with participation from all five groups – teachers, parents, youth group members, staff, and support staff responsible for education. Everyone is doing something to prepare for the sunlight activity. The parent representative e-mails the parents in advance to remind them about the sunlight class. Staff gives Light to the parents and children, and youth group members give Light to body points. We encourage other members to help us. We have a reflection meeting afterward.
  • Hawaii:  The Nurturing the Youth Program was presented in December 2008. We have 10-12 children every month. Members are there to give Light to the teachers and children. Every child has a folder and has homework. The center director meets with the parents and also provides homework for the parents. We also give parents projects to give Light to some kind of fruit and bring it back the next time. The children would be observing this.  We made a calendar of all the themes, which will probably cover two years. The center director gives a presentation for about twenty minutes on the theme and then we break up and have thirty-minute activities in groups. Then we reconvene to share what we did in the group, followed by closing prayer. We have had tremendous support from the time we began.
  • Pasadena:  We have had three activities a year, usually on the first Sunday of the month.  They are usually about the yoko farming with the children. They were very excited to plant a garden and sang a little song to the plants.


Explanation/ Implementation of the Sunlight Activities: Tina Viviano

The topics for the Sunlight Activities are:

  • Prayer;
  • Service to God and Others;
  • Holy Objects;
  • Blessings of Nature;
  • 3 Great Virtues;
  • Our Body: God's Perfect Design;
  • Etiquette and Manners;
  • Divine Plan: Missions of Sukyo Mahikari;
  • Purpose of Education;
  • Cleansing;
  • God and Spiritual Masters; and
  • Celebrating Light: Jingle Bell Party, with reflection and planning for next year.


An explanation of the Sunlight Manual was given, with the topics for parent study classes and practical applications or suggestions for practice for both parents and children. A Lesson Plan format was given as an attempt to standardize the Lesson Plans for the region. 


Some other things that are being worked on are compiling the Sukyo Mahikari teachings on education along with the teachings for youth, a bibliography of children's books, songs, and games.  We would like to have a website for the educators, contribute to the NAR members'newsletter, and foster communication among educators, parents, and youth group members by e-mail and by phone.


Future Direction: We discussed a teacher/student exchange program. The plan is to send students to participate in different projects such as the tree-planting activities in Africa, etc. We have to get permission for each of the projects. There will be no scholarship program for this. Right now the foundation of this practice has to be established.


The dates for the 2010 Educators'Conference will be April 17-18. It will be held the same times, Saturday and Sunday, 8:30-5:00pm. The location will be at the Chicago Sukyo Mahikari center. Keytha volunteered to coordinate ride-sharing and hotels; we will list her contact information on the application form when it is time to apply.


The goal for this coming year: "Let us become yokoshi who humbly offer service with joy." Each educator will set up an individual practice or practices through the year. Please send in what you have chosen to practice as soon as possible to Viviano Shocho at We will send out a reminder each month and collect experience stories. The focus should be on the practice. 



Regional Director Fujisaki:  Every year this group is evolving and we are more closely connected from year to year. Please send your experiences of the practice. Just a short experience is helpful for all of us and can help to promote spirit-first education. Combining your experience with the teachings is much more powerful. Many arrangements show that God is supporting us by our experiences. I hope that you can promote this with other teachers. One member who held the spiritual development course (primary course) in her house had three teachers from her school taking the course. The health professionals group made this as one of their goals to introduce other professionals. This is also important. 


You can promote spirit-first education to other educators and to other people.  We are working with staff to promote it in their centers. Even where we have no educators, we have a responsible staff member. They can join this group spiritually. We held this conference to offer the educators program for spirit-first educators, as a way to unite with each other and as a region.


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