Behind the Vatican Walls
Steve and I just returned from meetings at the Vatican in Rome. The connection to the Vatican actually began when StarShine was still a new idea, several years ago. At that time, I received a call from a member of one of the Catholic boards in New York whom I had known for a long time. He said he was sending a Cardinal and some other people from the Vatican to check out StarShine's ability to teach peace and sustainability to kids. The Cardinal came to visit StarShine, along with other people, one being Gabriele Delmanaco, Gabriele's wife and baby. Due to some unusual circumstances we formed some strong relationships with one another. Gabriele's career with the Vatican continued to expand as did StarShine's influence and work with the United Nations. Gabriele was named President of CNEWA, Catholic Near East Welfare Association by Pope Benedict XVI, shortly after we became friends. Gabriele would visit Phoenix frequently and I would speak frequently in New York City. Having very similar passions for children, we would try to visit one another and he would always spend time at StarShine, wishing of a way to spread StarShine to his many children's charities. Neither of us had the resources in time or money to make this a reality, in those days.
When Pope Francis became the Pope, Gabriele and I were extremely hopeful that he would have great impact on a proper education for all children; one that would inspire creativity, responsibility and service toward others, along with pure academics. We shared many prayers and watched as Pope Francis' popularity soared. In March of this year, much to our combined surprise, Pope Francis named Gabriele, President of the Boys and Girls Towns, orphanages that date back to World War II. Gabriele asked Steve and me to come to Rome to meet with Pope Francis in May and to begin our long dream of integrating StarShine's technology, software, curriculum, context and ethos.
At the meeting in May, there was a strong focus on Humane Sustainability and ideas for how Pope Francis could discuss this in his upcoming tour to the United States. Several key leaders were in these meetings, many I had met before. We all agreed that human behavior predicts sustainability and human behavior is learned. A workshop was being formed to bring together leaders for November 2015, to make specific recommendations to Pope Francis for his dissemination to all world leaders; religious, scientific, political, humanitarian and business. At a luncheon, inside of the Pope's home, I had the pleasure of being seated next to sit next to Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor, Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Vatican City, who was in charge of organizing the upcoming workshop in November. He personally invited both me and Steve to come to be a part of it. He said it could have a big global influence. A few weeks later I received a personal email from him, urging us to attend, followed by a formal invitation. Quite extraordinary to say the least!!
Until we arrived at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, I had no idea what to expect. We were to come up with a two-page recommendation by the end of the time together. There were approximately fifty-two people invited, each with amazing expertise, passion and a lifetime devoted to their particular science. There were thirty-four presentations made for discussion and possible points for inclusion to Pope Francis. Eighteen observers were invited to add opinions. Steve and I were a part of that group. After the first day, the attacks in Paris occurred, putting a more serious and somber tone to the meetings, but I believe caused everyone to go deeper into conversations about how the world can work for humans.
To say it was an honor to be a part of such history and noble people, doesn't adequately express my feelings of awe.
When I decided to open StarShine as a laboratory to see if we could produce a proper education, to restore children back to their own creative magic, many of you might remember me saying, "I am not doing this to be on one corner in one bad neighborhood, in one awful building, I am doing this as a global model of what is possible." I invested my own $238,000 savings because I truly believed we could figure this out, and I was willing to risk everything to find out. What causes a person to be happy, angry, thankful or resentful? What causes success and failure? Could these things be taught to children in school? Many of you have been on this journey with me and have watched the struggles and the gains. Our mission has always been to become a lighthouse to send a signal to all other schools: It's time to change, not only for our children, but teachers, parents, our communities and our world...the only one we share.
As we approach these Holy days of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and the Christmas holidays, I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate any and everything you have done to be a part of a worldwide change, perhaps the biggest change that will occur in our own lifetime. When the disasters of 9/11 happened, I prayed, "Dear God, please do not let these people die in vain, but let their lives be a wake-up call to do better and be better." I am truly living to see this happen.
To create sustainability for the schools and children, we have been designing, gathering and documenting our intellectual property toward a day when we could sell it to make money to continue to build more schools. Education Resources is my original company in which we placed consultants into government contracts. This is the company that is helping our XPRIZE to end world illiteracy, through StarShine Planet and our StarShine School in a Box and to begin to spread StarShine further.
We have recently made, positively received, presentations to Venture Capital firms in Silicon Valley, as the market now wants what we have developed and demonstrated. We hope you become more involved, more excited and more hopeful as we continue our work.
God Bless you and your family, always.