Author: Chejen (Peter) Chu
Translator: Qingjun Wei (from Chinese)
Editor: Dilber Shatursun
On May 19th, Tzu Ching, Tzu Chi’s collegiate youth association, held its first ever graduation ceremony at the Tzu Chi Center in Midtown Manhattan. The ceremony honored 15 members of Tzu Ching, each who graduated from their respective colleges in New York, with white sashes.
Graduation Is but a Beginning
Freeman Su, Executive Director of Tzu Chi’s Northeast Region, began the ceremony with a congratulatory speech, where he reminded all Tzu Ching graduates that they would always be part of the Tzu Chi family, no matter where life would take them. Indeed, as many of our youngest members grow, we welcome them to continue the path of the Dharma, and to continue to do the good work that we do.
Echo Xu, too, a Tzu Chi volunteer, shared that Tzu Ching is sure to return to help the next generation of those who will need relief from suffering.
Many Tzu Ching shared with us the inner struggles college life brought them: uncertainty for the future and anxiety about finding balance. But, through giving and contributing with the support of the Tzu Ching community, including their parents, volunteers, and peers, they told us they’d felt relief in beginning to find their way.
Finding Direction at Tzu Chi
Ben Chen, a current Tzu Ching, grew up being a part of Tzu Chi. His father, Jack Chen, had been an active volunteer alongside his mother Jasmine Chai. With compassion being a part of his life, his career goals now steer him toward those that help others and contribute to social good – leading him to a lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. But, after studying biology at CUNY Queens College, he had second thoughts.
When Ben began feeling unsure, his parents and Tzu Chi peers encouraged him to think differently and try other areas within medicine. Luckily, TIMA, the Tzu Chi International Medical Association, often hosts events around the world that welcome volunteers and participants no matter what level of skill. Ben decided to join on a mission to support TIMA medical outreaches being held in Mexico.
When recalling his first few days there, Ben said he had to help over 100 patients a day. Despite such a high patient count, he reported he felt energetic and motivated, more than ever. The experience of helping others gave him exactly the insight he needed. Upon his return, he has since devoted himself to a path in nursing and is now a licensed EMT. He is committed to helping with TIMA’s work as he can.
A Mother’s Unconditional Support
Tzu Ching William Yang, too, felt the winds blowing in a different direction than expected. Originally an information technology major at Queens College, he began to feel differently about his chosen concentration by his junior year.
His mother, a Tzu Chi volunteer herself, is very open-minded about education, and was supportive of his choice to switch. In the meantime, William took part in various Tzu Ching events. The experience, along with others, led him to discover a love for art.
Blending art and technology together, he finally earned his Bachelor’s degree in graphic design after first beginning college seven years before. William expressed that his mother’s support during this period meant a lot, and was something he didn’t think he’d ever be able to pay back.
The Mothers of Tzu Chi
At the graduation ceremony, many Tzu Ching expressed their gratitude to the Tzu Chi volunteers present.
Nic Tsai, an international student from Taiwan, came to New York’s esteemed School of Visual Arts two years ago. He said that though his family could not be here for him, Tzu Chi volunteers, like Jasmine Chai and Echo Xu helped him like mothers would.
NYU graduate CJ Zhang pointed out that after Hurricane Sandy struck New York City in 2012, he was deeply moved by the work volunteers did to prepare disaster relief supplies through the night. Since then, his affinity for Tzu Chi has led him to see it as a second home.
Cindy Chen, too, from Cornell University invited many of her young peers to join in on Tzu Chi’s activities as volunteers
With their positive energy, the young people of the Tzu Chi family give us all confidence that the future is in good hands.