Dear Soka community and friends,
The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here—I am thrilled to welcome you back to Aliso Viejo. Last month after much COVID-19 prevention planning and preparations, we welcomed the Class of 2025 to campus for their Core 1 block. During that time, meeting with the new students to hear about their journey to SUA, I was once again reminded of the great diversity of our community, with students from every corner of the US and the globe.
We also welcomed our second-year students with a mini-orientation and welcome reception. It was their first time on campus as well, since their first year was done virtually. Then, at the beginning of this month, we were finally able to welcome back our third- and fourth-year students. These smooth returns, successful orientations, and enriching Core sessions give me confidence that as a community we will rise to the challenge of safely conducting in-person education this Fall.
As classes begin, I am reminded of the reaction when, during the first year of SUA’s undergraduate program 20 years ago, the September 11 terrorist attacks devastated our nation. The students organized a candlelight vigil at Peace Lake in an earnest response to the attacks. Determined to bring hope during a time of fear and powerlessness, they invited the local Aliso Viejo community. It was a powerful moment, and in a sense deeply ingrained the students’ belief in the SUA mission and an understanding of the necessity to rise up as global citizens for the future of humanity. In an essay, “The Mission of SUA,” our university founder Daisaku Ikeda shared the following about the vigil:
The terrorist attacks had demolished people’s faith in their fellow human beings, and feelings of powerlessness and hatred began to fill their hearts like a dark cloud. Then a student stood up and, with a determined expression, declared: “I believe that there will be peace as long as we don’t give up!” These courageous words bravely spoken by a young person sincerely dedicated to peace struck home in the hearts of many of those present.
I believe the need to harness and spread wisdom, courage, and compassion as global citizens remains as important today as it was then.
I would like to thank our precious donors and supporters for your continued belief in our mission and support for our students entering society as global leaders working for the sake of humanity and peace. To the entire SUA community, thank you for all your efforts and let’s continue to be vigilant so that we can have a safe and meaningful semester.