Tzu Chi Schools’ Fundraising Preparations Are a Feat of Love and Solidarity

June 3, 2021
Tzu Chi's Sign Language Team leads faculty, staff, volunteers, parents, and students, for rehearsal. Photo/Phil Huang

Written by Phil Huang
Translated by Diana Chang  
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

On the evening of May 15th, 2021, over sixty members of Tzu Chi USA’s Walnut Campus assembled for their very first sign language lesson in preparation for a virtual fundraising event on June 19th. Tzu Chi Walnut Elementary School’s principal, Chet Crane, was also in attendance, and diligently practiced sign language for the first time with direction from a volunteer, Sirong Ying. They carefully studied the gestures, committing the meaning behind each movement to memory, and Principal Crane even continued to study the moves during break time. Likewise, Calette Sinae Garcia, a teacher, and Stephanie Lo, the Director of Tzu Chi’s Great Love Preschool in Walnut, were both encouraged by the mindful supervision of Yirou Chen and Lu Sheng Chou. Together, they immersed themselves in the new undertaking with joy, and made efforts to master each sign with great precision while appreciating the innate beauty of humanistic culture.

A performance including the participation of more than 60 people will be live on June 19th to support Tzu Chi USA's compassionate educational mission. Photo/Phil Huang
Principal Crane (first left) practices for the upcoming event. Photo/Phil Huang

Among the performers partaking in the fundraising event, 17 are students from Tzu Chi Elementary School and Tzu Chi’s weekend reading camp. Brows together in concentration, the youngsters followed along with their teacher with great focus and determination, taking time to go through each sign in detail.

Brows drawn together in concentration, all in attendance focus intently on the hands of their teachers, trying their best to commit each sign to memory for a flawless performance. Photo/Phil Huang, Debbie Lee

The family members of the Education Foundation danced with joy in time with the music for the sign language performance, and a father held his child on his knee as they rehearsed. Rosa Tran, a grandmother, sat near the sign language teacher as she studied every gesture without missing a single beat. Practicing sign language for the forthcoming event became a meaningful weekend activity for the whole family, indeed.

Teachers practice for the upcoming sign language performance. Photo/Debbie Lee
Practicing sign language for the fundraising event becomes a meaningful weekend activity for the whole family. Photo/Phil Huang
The performers include a 77-year-old grandmother named Rosa Tran, who didn't miss a single beat during practice. Photo/Phil Huang

Ahead of the weekend’s reading camp events, Ben Tu, a member of the Education Foundation, Hsi Chien, a volunteer, and the parents of all the children at the camp, each took time for practice. Participants were provided with a worksheet, and followed the lead of their teachers while scanning the page where necessary. All of this, the participants said, was a great way of putting Master Cheng Yen’s teachings into practice. 

“Growing up in the cultural environment of Tzu Chi, my children are very happy and healthy,” said Clora Zhu, a parent of two students — one in Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool and another in Tzu Chi Walnut Elementary School. She decided to join the performance when she heard that Tzu Chi USA’s Education Foundation would be holding a fundraiser, explaining, “We are very grateful that Tzu Chi cultivates such a good environment. They take care of the children and allow them to have righteous thoughts and righteous knowledge. Under the philosophy of Master Cheng Yen, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Education Foundation in the U.S. has given us a lot of positive energy.”

Parents and children practice sign language as a team. Photo/Debbie Lee
Parents actively engage in the activity, hoping to bring forth their best efforts for the fundraising event. Photo/Debbie Lee

The willingness of busy parents who took time out of their schedules for such an event serves as not only an affirmation of their own selfless love, but their faith and appreciation for Tzu Chi’s compassionate educational mission as well. Witnessing everyone working together as one family with such care in their hearts was profoundly moving, and is a memory that will surely endure in the hearts of volunteers forever.

We hope that through this fundraising activity, more people will support Tzu Chi's educational missions. It will go further and be better, and more children will have the opportunity to be exposed to such a loving and cultural environment.

Brows drawn together in concentration, all in attendance focus intently on the hands of their teachers, trying their best to commit each sign to memory for a flawless performance. Photo/Phil Huang, Debbie Lee

Dr. Wei-lin Lei, the former President of the California Association for Asian Pacific Bilingual Education, worked diligently to polish the Chinese and English scripts for the length of the scheduled filming. Photo/Phil Huang

Eric Ching, Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Walnut, delivers his blessings. Photo/Phil Huang

On May 27th, the video team races to Ekstrand Elementary School to record greetings from the principal and teachers. Photo/Phil Huang

At Tzu Chi Elementary School in Walnut, CA, the background chosen for the performance was the campus’s life science farm. Photo/Phil Huang

The video from Tzu Chi’s Great Love Preschool in Walnut was recorded across three sites, with teachers, staff, and children, each putting their whole heart into the performance. On May 26th and 27th, filming took place at a total of 10 sites to make the performance a truly extraordinary feat of love and teamwork. Photo/Phil Huang

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