As the crowd of over 500 guests left Flushing High School auditorium after the morning session held in celebration of Tzu Chi New York’s 25thAnniversary, many delayed heading to the “Onward” exhibition, but chose to have the vegetarian lunch which was being offered in the school cafeteria instead.
Meanwhile, the Buddhist Masters who had come from Taiwan for the celebrations; George Chang, Executive Director of Tzu Chi New York; invited dignitaries; and Tzu Chi members headed over to 137-77 Northern Boulevard for a ceremonial Grand Opening of the exhibition. Once the ribbon was cut, everyone proceeded inside.
As every square foot of the building is used efficiently, the exhibition also utilizes every inch of available wall space, and begins as soon as one enters the door. Essentially, as it spirals along a staircase leading to the 3rd floor and culminates in a spacious room usually used for prayer, the visitor is taken on a trip through time.
Hundreds of photographs, framed and beautifully displayed with detailed accompanying captions, document the history and activities of Tzu Chi New York while revealing intimate moments of personal exchange between volunteers and members of the communities they serve until today. Videos, slideshows, and objects in display cases accent the story, while the final section on the 3rd floor brings the experience to an impactful conclusion.
Would you like a virtual tour of the exhibition? Then the following photographs will take you from start to finish!
Welcome, and enjoy.
A sign on the exterior wall of the building welcomes visitors to “Onward” – Tzu Chi New York’s 25th Anniversary Exhibition.
By the entrance, with the aid of photos and detailed captions, visitors learn that Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation started in Taiwan 50 years ago, and that the U.S. Northeast Region chapter headquartered in New York City was established in 1991.
Visitors can see historical objects presented in display cases, among them cassettes, slides, and booklets volunteers used to introduce Master Cheng Yen and the work of Tzu Chi globally; Bamboo Banks used to collect donations until today, with the evolution in their design revealed; Jing Si Aphorisms that provide Master’s Dharma teachings in a succinct form; Red Envelopes offered in gratitude during year-end ceremonies; and new and old printed versions of the Buddhist “Infinite Meaning Sutra” which is at the heart of Tzu Chi’s spiritual practice.
As one heads up the stairs, three TV screens on the wall introduce life in the Jing Si Abode in Taiwan where Master Cheng Yen resides with nuns and novices. They reveal their morning prayer sessions, daily routine, and the production of items whose sale supports their livelihood.
Turning the corner as one spirals upward, the wall that comes into view commemorates 14 commissioners who passed away. Each of them contributed to what Tzu Chi New York is today.
Further along that wall, visitors can watch “Onward: Tzu Chi Comes to New York” – a video introducing how Tzu Chi New York was established from the perspective of its first members.
Turning the corner towards the 2nd floor, the next section introduces current volunteers and Tzu Chi New York’s medical and educational outreach activities. An iPad slideshow alongside the photographs brings the story further alive.
The section on the wall ahead presents environmental protection activities like street cleaning, and spiritually focused community events like Buddha Bathing and Year-End Blessing Ceremonies, and the “Sutra of Profound Gratitude Toward Parents” performances.
The next walls commemorate Tzu Chi New York’s charity work, with hot meal distributions; nursing home visits; winter distributions for the underprivileged; individual care cases; and distributions following disasters in local communities. Each photo speaks volumes.
Arriving on the 3rd floor, suddenly the space opens up, and the monumental size of the posters compared to the photos along our path is dramatic, as is the drama of providing international disaster relief.
Visitors can listen to the song “Love Heals the World” and discover Tzu Chi’s disaster relief work around the world. Display cases also contain Tzu Chi’s signature uniform, cash cards, and medals that were used in the past to acknowledge time served as a volunteer.
To enhance their experience, a touchscreen TV allows visitors to watch videos about various Tzu Chi disaster relief missions around the world.
Photos documenting Tzu Chi’s Hurricane Sandy disaster relief work bring the story closer to home.
Images of street fundraising reveal the idea that even coins donated mean a lot: It’s the loving intent that counts.
A large collage of faces of people from different races and religions with the plea, “Bring Mercy to the World and Make it a Great Love Global Village” presents the culminating message of the exhibition.
We hope you enjoyed the virtual show!
But if you can make it in person, the “Onward” exhibition will remain open daily until June! Tzu Chi New York welcomes you, so please stop by for a visit. Volunteers may be on hand to answer any questions, and to share some of their personal stories.
Location: 137-77 Northern Blvd., Flushing, NY 11354
Open Monday to Sunday, between 10:00AM to 5:00PM.
For further information, please call (718) 888-0866.