Luminari: Celebrating 10 Years

"I Want to be an Ambassador!" Summer Program-Luminari

Looking back 10 years to Luminari’s first group of teen ambassadors during the summer of 2010

By Hilda Pang Fu, President and Founder, Luminari

Memories are mostly pictures, colorful images that make up the mosaic of our years. As I look back on the past decade, I see the faces of young people visiting national monuments, meeting with community leaders, presenting speeches, sharing meals together. Sharing ideas with those who have different points of view.

I started Luminari in 2009, with the goal of broadening minds, inspiring innovation and encouraging community engagement through summer camps for teens. We started small and remain small, but like a pebble tossed into a lake, the ripples have a wide-reaching effect.

But much has changed, in our region and across the country, since that first summer of camps. More than ever, I am troubled by the incivility and lack of respect in public discussions. I had not expected that, eight years after the launch of Luminari, I started to feel the acute need to double down on our effort to instill the sense of civility, and to make explicit and reaffirm our core values.

Likewise, ten years ago I could not have predicted the urgency we now face to step up our existing media literacy components as a counter offensive to escalating “fake news” problems. It is not overstating things to say our democracy depends on the next generation’s ability to discern factual reporting from biased opinion and outright lies.            

I’m especially proud of this online publication. Over the years, LUMOS! has grown into something worth reading. We will continue to strive to present content that is universal and illuminating, and something our readers look forward to receiving in their mailboxes.

Even as we look forward to our next decade, we are reaching back to connect with those who attended our first camps. Soon we will be launching an Alumni Network; how exciting it will be to find out what our camper friends are up to, and to learn how their Luminari experience has enhanced their lives as they’ve moved into adulthood.

Perhaps my greatest satisfaction lies there—in knowing that Luminari enriched the lives of those who joined our team at our camps. And what a superb team it has been, then and now. Our operations managers, graphic artist, website manager, writers, program directors, guest instructors and volunteers bring a unique set of credentials and skills to our camps. That these immensely talented and dedicated individuals have chosen to use their time on Luminari means they must believe in the mission. We must be doing something useful.

What fun this decade has been for me, to stand amidst of all this enthusiasm and energy. I’m more inspired than ever to join my team and our teens in this important work. Now, onward and, as the bright ripples flow, outward– to a kinder, more harmonious world.