From Fuji With Love: Inspiration from Japan & the Philippines

Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne

In the weeks before joining the 14,000 Move This World students around the globe returning to school this month, I was on top of the world — literally. During a two-week adventure in Asia, I climbed to the peak of Mount Fuji. The uphill battle was difficult and intense, but the view and fresh perspective was worth every step.

In our last newsletter, I asked our followers to send in techniques used to hit pause and reflect in order to bounce back even stronger. I was particularly struck by the response from one of our City Year Corps members: “Right before students arrive for the day, I always take a moment to appreciate the quiet in the room so I can see how I’m feeling and envision what I need to accomplish that day.”

This routine is a microcosm of the spirit of mindfulness and reflection. We can’t climb to the top of a mountain to escape the stress of daily life, but in those few moments to yourself, you could be anywhere in the world. That is a powerful feeling.

My journey did not end in Japan. Following the moments of respite and peace on top of Mount Fuji, I joined our team in the Philippines for the Fourth International Conference in Bohol. Over 125 Filipino superintendents and principals convened around a shared vision for safer and more supportive schools. I was truly inspired by their willingness to throw themselves into the creative work, to be vulnerable, and to be present for themselves and their colleagues.

To see that the need for authentic, empowered expression and connection binds us across diverse geographies and cultures felt extremely validating. I am proud of the movement-building convenings, conferences, and knowledge sharing events we’re hosting alongside Departments of Education, while simultaneously implementing ritualized emotional wellness work in partner institutions every day.

Now fully recharged, I eagerly await another school year in which our Trainers will bring this work to classrooms across the world. With fully developed virtual tools, Move This World stands to make a bigger impact than ever before. Once again, we are pushing the boundaries of what it feels like to enter a school building, and I encourage all of you to join us in championing mindfulness, emotional wellbeing, and empathy as we take on another year.

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