Victoria Roomet has recently announced to Headquarters Staff that she is moving on from her position as president of the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP). The News team took the opportunity to interview her about her accomplishments and lessons learned.
CARP was founded by Unification Church members at Waseda University, Japan, in 1964, and began chapters in the United States in November 1973, according to church historian Dr. Mike Mickler, in the book, A History of the Unification Church in America. In Japan, CARP was one of the Unification movement’s major recruitment vehicles on college campus, where it also challenged communist student organizations during the 1960s and 1970s.
In the United States, CARP was largely inactive until the leadership of Rev. Choon Goo “Tiger” Park, who grew the organization from less than 100 members in January 1979 to nearly 1,000 members in June 1980.
In 1983, CARP became a genuine national organization while maintaining a distinct identity and a high profile on campus.. During the 1980s CARP became a major source of new members and also organized anti-communist demonstrations throughout the country.
In the early 1990s, Rev. Moon assigned the responsibility to CARP to educate and fill an ideological void left by the then-splintering Soviet republics after the demise of Communism. Soon-after,, Jin Hun Park, Choong Goo Park’s son, became president of CARP and focused the attention to ethical issues of love and sex. CARP was instrumental in forming the Pure Love Alliance, a leading international purity movement. At this time, the Special Task Force (STF) was conceived as a one- to two year activist education program for high school graduates to emulate the regime of first-generation members during the earlier period of the Unification movement in the United States.
Under the leadership of Rev. In Jin Moon from 2009 to 2012, CARP transitioned into a new organization with a focus directed towards empowerment of Unification youth on campus as well as development of natural testament. Hero Hernandez was appointed to lead CARP in August of 2009. Victoria Roomet began working for CARP in October, quickly taking on responsibility within the reshaped organization. On December 9, 2011, CARP welcomed her as its first woman president.
During Roomet’s leadership CARP strove to empower college students to be the best representatives of themselves by supporting four core values of: Nurturing a Spiritual Life, Excelling in Academics, and Creating a Generation of Peace.
What have you accomplished as CARP president?
“I think we were able to substantially change the culture and image of CARP. When I first started working here, I remember how difficult it was to have a conversation with college students, because I represented CARP and they assumed that I was speaking with them to give them some sort of responsibility. These experiences taught me to be much more intentional about they way I approach conversations with students. I was careful not to start conversations by bringing up responsibilities and instead just asked students how they were doing in order to show that I cared about them. Maintaining that perspective and intention through our work in CARP was really effective. We wanted to make sure that the work we did through CARP wasn’t burdensome, but rather, added value to students’ lives. I think our community of college students could feel that.”
Was the idea of changing the image of CARP a sole decision or was it something that you and In Jin Nim worked on?
“It was a joint effort. In Jin Nim had been casting this vision of college students investing themselves on their campuses and succeeding in all areas of their lives. She was constantly using the terms, “internal excellence, external excellence, and creating a generation peace” to encourage students to invest in their spiritual lives, excel in their fields of study, and then apply themselves and their skills to the betterment of the world. Prior to my work at CARP I was very invested in my campus community. Though I was not necessarily organizing activities that were endorsed by our church, I was doing something positive with my time and saw the value that brought to my college experience. When I heard her speak about her vision, I was very excited because I felt what I had been doing was right in line with that vision, so it was easy to apply my college experience to the work we did at CARP.
What were some of the highs working as president of CARP and what were some of the lows, or difficult times?
“The CARP Refresh (a two-day retreat in California) was a high because it was a solid representation of what we were trying to build and create for CARP; a safe space for college students to explore their purpose in life. We tried something new with that retreat, we didn’t fill the day with lectures-- actually there were only two “talks” each day and the rest of the time was free. We respected perspectives from all sides of the spectrum and had meaningful conversations about some very hot topics on college campuses. We were impressed by the collective wisdom of the group of 80+ college students who were in such a wide range of places in their lives and varying degrees of association with the Unification Church. What we created was an environment where we could make the most of that kind of representation, share ideas and perspectives in a respectful way, and learn a lot from each other.
Debuting Mr. the Fish (CARP’s mascot) was a moment that I would call a high. Mr. the Fish was like my baby. He was an expression of how much fun we were having. It’s okay to goof off. Life is hard.
Hosting the Winter Balls was fun. Creating and sending out care packages was also great. The care packages were such simple gestures, but they made an impact. We would get thank you letters from lonely students who received a care package and it brightened their day. Each one of those ‘thank you’s’ reminded me why I loved my job. I do remember how lonely college was at times and those few moments when my mom sent me a package to show me how much she loved me would make my week.
I would have to say the period between September [when In Jin Nim resigned] and now, has been the most significant low during my time here. I jumped on board to support Lovin’ Life and CARP right after graduating from college because I was so excited about the vision. I loved the team we were working with and felt that I was contributing to something great. It was very hard for me to see a lot of that come crashing down. It hurt.”
What are your lessons learned from your experience and what kind of advice would you give the next CARP president?
“First of all it doesn’t really matter what this next president does. The activities don’t matter too much. What matters the most is your intention behind the activities, why are you doing something, and what kind of culture are you trying to create.
I think that is why we were able to change the image of CARP. It was very important to us that through our work at CARP, we were not taking something from college students, but instead, we were a resource for them. We wanted to give them something without any strings attached, without any expectations. That is the way love works, or at least how I think it should work. So, practicing ‘love’ on an organizational level is what really matters. I would encourage that beyond anything else. That is the reason why our care packages are free. That is the reason why I take college students out for coffee all the time. That is why I don’t bring up people’s responsibilities unless they want to talk it out with me. Working at CARP puts us in a position to take care of and support students and encourage them to be the best possible person they can be. Doing that over an extended period of time pays off. It might be a little slower and may not produce numbers right away. But that is what an investment is. We are making investments in human beings. Human beings are attracted to where they feel love. College students are so perceptive. They know when someone has an agenda and they can tell whether someone is concerned for their well-being or not.”
If and when you faced tough situations as president, were there people who you could confide in and who supported you?
“My CARP and Lovin Life team was a great support for me. While they were around, Heather Thalheimer and In Jin Nim were kind of like my mentors. I think that they understood a lot of my struggles because we were women, working in an environment that is pretty male-dominated. It was challenging to have a different, perhaps more feminine way of leading in an organizational structure that was largely shaped by more masculine leadership. So, if my way of leading was not getting the support that it needed, then it wouldn’t have gone anywhere. But having them helped my silly ideas—like sending out care packages for free, actually go somewhere. They were very supportive of the idea of investing in people and they trusted that if that is what we were doing, eventually results would come. It was pretty hard to see them leave. And since then, in the past six months, my mom has been the best support. She has been very patient with me because she understood how much my work meant to me and how much it hurt to see a lot of that investment get washed away. So, she listened to me, took time to ask me how I was doing, validated my feelings, and has been a pretty amazing mom, I’d say.”
What are your plans after CARP?
“I have a few short-term plans. One of them is to go to Hawaii and live with my brother. I am an ocean person! I think it is going to be a beautiful experience to reconnect with myself in this new context. A lot has happened in the last four years, and I am excited for the next chapter. Going to Hawaii will be great as I will be able to reorient myself and spend plenty of time surfing.
Afterwards I will head up to Kodiak, Alaska, where I will work as a deckhand till the end of the fishing season. Surfing and fishing are two things I have had on my bucket list. At some point I am probably going to have a family, and it would make it difficult to just up and leave and become a fisherman or a surf-bum. So, I figure now is a great time to do those things.”
Any last words before we conclude our interview?
“I am so grateful for this experience. I came to CARP because I really wanted to be a part of this team, and it has been such an enriching experience. I was given so much freedom and trust to experiment and explore and to create something vibrant and new and exciting. So, of course, I learned a lot, and had so much fun. Above all I am grateful for all of the beautiful relationships we created along the way. Travelling around the country and meeting amazing people who fit in so well with their unique community was such a wonderful thing to experience. I will stay in touch, and I am excited to see and support whatever is in store for CARP. Go forth and make waves, CARPies, I love you guys!”