“I wish my nation would be a nation that doesn’t just imitate others, but rather, be a nation that is the source of a new and higher culture. And thus true world peace would come from our nation. I wish peace would be achieved in our nation and from there to the world.” – Kim Gu

Korean independence leader Kim Gu frequently drew upon the age-old Korean ideal of Hongik ingan as a resource in the fight for Korean independence from the Japanese in the first half of the 20th century. Hongik ingan, or bringing benefit to all humanity, has served as a touchstone for the Korean people, a source of pride, renewal and resolve for them in the most difficult of circumstances through 5,000 years of history.

As such, it comes as no surprise that Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon’s book, Korean Dream: A Vision for a Unified Korea, puts forward Hongik ingan as the ideological basis and framework for a united Korea. In it, he proposes the need for a spiritual awakening to the vision and values found in this ideal as well as the civil society engagement necessary to bring it about. Rather than seeking benefit for one’s own, the Hongik ingan ideal creates a vision for a Korea that can serve the world and thus become a global model of peace.

Guided by this vision, the Global Peace Foundation Korea has worked to provide university-age Korean youth the opportunity to take part in international service programs and projects to spread the culture and spirit of Hongik ingan around the world.

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Korean student volunteer decorates All Lights Village classroom

Students from Korea’s Ewha Women’s University experienced this spirit of global service in a recent project to aid a province in Cambodia. In partnership with Love in Lights, the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), and Global Peace Foundation Cambodia, more than 50 volunteers spent six unforgettable days setting up the lights, decorating the local school building and playground, working in the village gardens, and exchanging education and activities with more than 100 village children. Volunteers also contributed to setting up a local library and provided study materials for students.

Projects such as All Lights Villages allow volunteers to gain social and leadership skills through service to others. Thanks to the volunteers, the team built seven new solar-powered street lamps and distributed solar lanterns to 71 different households.

The All-Lights Village project is a long-term community development program that combines solar technology with clean water solutions, education, income generation, and public-private partnerships to improve the overall quality of life in measurable ways. The introduction of solar energy has a significant impact on the quality of life in impoverished communities. Access to a clean, dependable light source in the hours of darkness results in improved security, education, business, and health. Solar lights are provided to each head of household, introducing the concept of self-reliance on the family level. This subtle acknowledgement of the family unit as a cornerstone of society is expected to enhance long-term economic and social resilience in the community.

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Cambodian villagers receive solar lanterns from All Lights project

H.E. Sor Soputra, the vice governor of Kampung Speu Province, was present to welcome the volunteers and dignitaries, which included officers from the Department of Education from the Phnom Sruoch district and Mr. Pich Chantha, Governor of Phnom Sruoch.

Local residents and volunteers alike engaged with one another throughout the process, building relationships of trust and respect regardless of differences in ethnicity, religion, race, etc. While each program experience is as unique as every individual, the opportunity to see, meet and work with others different from one’s self, outside of one’s home country and develop the mindset of seeking the greater good is critical to educating the next generation of moral, innovative leaders. Particularly for the young professionals from Korea, the experience is designed to awaken an age-old calling of the Korean people to be a beacon of peace to the world.

Although tropically warm and sunny in daylight hours, the village of Preah Khae in Kampung Speu Province, Cambodia is shining a little brighter long after the sun goes down.

Click here to support more programs like this and to learn more about GPF’s activities in Cambodia.

Click here to view the photo gallery.

The original post appears on Global Peace Foundation. Global Peace Foundation is an international non-sectarian, non-partisan, nonprofit organization, which promotes an innovative, values-based approach to peacebuilding, guided by the vision of One Family under God.  GPF engages and organizes a global network of public and private-sector partners who develop community, national, and regional peace building models as the foundation for ethical and cohesive societies. Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon is founder and chairman of the Global Peace Foundation.