Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

For centuries, poets, authors, religious leaders, scientists and great minds from around the world have acknowledged the irreplaceable lessons on leadership, self-discovery and self-mastery provided by nature.

A select group of young leaders from around the world discovered just how transformative the wilderness can be, surprised to discover their innate passion to become global citizens and their extraordinary leadership potential in an outdoor adventure as part of the Global Peace Youth Exchange (GPYE) held in Nepal last April.

Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon credits the natural world as one of the best classrooms for leadership and reflection. “In the wilderness, one comes to understand that there is an essence to life far greater than things in our material lives. That is why I go to the mountains when I want to reflect deeply and renew my spirit.”

The youth division of Global Peace Foundation (GPF) challenges young leaders with outdoor adventure programs like the most recent one in Nepal as an essential tool for leadership and character development. Nature treats every human being the same, no matter our nationality, ethnicity, or religious or political beliefs. In nature, we learn to see each other and ourselves for who we really are, growing as individuals and as members of a larger team.

GPYE delegates meeting villagers

GPYE delegates meet villagers living out of tin and wood houses

Beginning with a cultural and service expedition to Nepal’s Patle village, a remote community hit by the devastating earthquake in 2015, one GPYE delegate was deeply touched by the kind welcome of the villagers, many of whom were living out of temporary houses made of tin and wood. Their attitude was so overwhelming that Isha Poudel could easily overlook what the villagers lacked and instead pointed out their wealth of compassion and happiness saying, “You don’t always need a house to make it a home and you don’t always need books to learn lessons.”

The GPYE adventurers were sure to learn many new lessons as they took on the rapids of Trishuli River and the steep heights of Poon Hill. Facing their challenges and fears together, the delegates rafted for three hours through the rushing river, learning the importance of teamwork and recognizing the unique value of each member of their team. The rapids seemed to wash away the Global Peace Volunteers’ differences and bring them even closer together.

Joyce Cuerbo from the Philippines described the outdoor challenge as the greatest way to discover her strengths and weaknesses. “The experience of meeting everybody, from the locals to different nationalities, broadened my perception and vision of the world.”

Joyce Cuerbo during the GPYE hike

Joyce Cuerbo pauses during the GPYE hike to reflect

Upon reaching the summit of their mountain challenge after four long days, Farah Afzan Faridi from Malaysia reflected, “It is not about the success of reaching the top but how all of us could manage to reach the top together through our leadership.”

Filipino delegate Yussef Paglas was transformed by the adventure. “Traveling with people from across the nations and sharing stories about each other’s lives has made me realize how amazingly connected we all are. This program gave me inner strength to face the obstacles in my life.”

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.