Nothing in this world can take the place of being tenacious. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Tenacity and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”Calvin Coolidge
Carol Pobanz (UTS '80)
I graduated from the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) with the Class of 1980, the fourth graduating class. I was invited to attend previous class years at the seminary, but I turned down the opportunity because I didn’t think I was academic material. Finally, after evaluating what I wanted to do with my life, I decided to go, with the hope of someday fulfilling my dream of creating Art for the betterment of the world.
In the seminary I worked as hard as I could and graduated, only to discover that it was the foundation for further education, on the job and in the field. My commitment to study was, in fact, the commitment to see my life vision realized.
Why do I say this? Well, this is my story.
I was an art student when I met the Unification Movement and, as an art student, I asked the question, “What makes good art?” Through hearing the Divine Principle, a modern- day interpretation of the Bible explaining humankind’s relationship to God and each other, I concluded that if art is a reflection of its creator, then the answer is, “a good person makes good art.” The teachings I heard motivated me to become a “good” person so that someday I could make good art, thereby fulfilling my life’s vision.
In my graduating year at UTS I wrote a thesis entitled: The Creator and the creator – A Curriculum for Teaching Religion Through Teaching Art, which outlined my ideas on how to inspire goodness through artistic expression. After graduation my dream was not forgotten, but I had to put it on the back burner for the next 25 years.
After getting blessed in marriage to my husband, Kerry, raising our family, pioneering two city church centers, pastoring the New Jersey State Church for seven years, and being on staff for two years with the Religious Youth Service (RYS) , in 2005 I asked RYS director Rev. John Gehring (UTS’84) for permission to organize my first Art/Service project. I often thank God for John and his belief in me and support for my “out-of-the-box” idea. It was then I began to actualize my “The Creator and the creator” curriculum and activities.
I believe - metaphorically - that in creating art we are also re-creating ourselves, and that, as a matter of fact, in anything we create or do, we make a representation of ourselves. Even more so, when we create in a group the work becomes the collective expression of the group. So, when we work in cooperation with one another, the harmony and beauty of the work is the reflection of the group’s harmony and beauty, as well as of their love and solidarity.
More recently, drawing from my original desire to make good art and teach religion through art, I have begun a long-imagined project of creating an art park with young adults from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean, as a unified expression of our friendship and solidarity. The title of the project is “There’s Only One America – from Alaska to Argentina.” This is not a political statement but a religious one, as expressed also by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, when he spoke about the need for unity of the Americas in the 1980s.
Through this cooperative project our participants gain first-hand experience working and making friends with others from differing cultures – they learn to synergize, compromise and harmonize. They’re creating a small piece of God’s Kingdom, a Peace Park that will continue to testify to intercultural cooperation even after the project is completed. There have been some who laughed at the idea when I was forming it, and others scoffed at the value of art as a meaningful service to people in need; and, there were times when I even questioned myself as to the intrinsic value of the project. I’ve learned, however, through my life experiences that when you have an idea you believe in you must move forward with tenacity, which I believe is the quality of God’s absolute determination.
I’m sharing my story and life dream to inspire others to be tenacious in fulfilling the dreams of their youth. One of the deepest religious truths for me is that, in being created in God’s image we are mandated to become the creators of our own destiny. The only sure way to fail at something is to stop trying, to give up, and the only sure way to success is to creatively push past all the problems and challenges that are placed in our path, to finally arrive at the fulfillment of our ideals.
Carol Pobanz (UTS'80) is the founder and director of the Honduras Peace Park Project, a three-year ongoing project being carried out in Tela, Honduras. The Park is being designed and built by individuals from the Americas. It’s the fulfillment of Carol’s lifelong dream of blending her love of art with her desire to serve God that inspired her to create, “a fusion of ideas with an expression of our combined joy.” A more detailed description of the project can be found at: http://www.peaceinproject.com/projects/
All of the funding for the project has been provided through the generosity of friends. There is a valiant GoFundMe effort (under the name Making America’s Mosaic) to raise $5,000 for building materials for this August’s Phase 2 Project. Participants pay for their own transportation, lodging and food, so 100% of donations go toward the project. Please make your donation to affirm your solidarity with others in the Americas who are working for a peaceful and cooperative tomorrow. https://www.gofundme.com/make-americas-mosaic