Written by Nancy Wei
A SB Who Was Shocked to Be Called a SB
The first time I met Han was in 2008, a few weeks before the Tzu Ching retreat at the Tzu Chi USA National Headquarters San Dimas campus. I called him “Shi Bo” (師伯, abbreviation “SB”) along with all other senior volunteers I was being introduced to. I recalled back then he seemed shocked (and maybe hurt?) to be called a SB. I had thought SB was a respectful term I could use to call anyone older than me. Later, I found out that he was much younger than all others and had just begun losing hair in recent years 😬. I felt bad calling him a SB then, but it just stuck – to me, he was Han SB since.
A SB Who Was Fun and Young at Heart
In the summer of 2008, after the Tzu Ching camp in San Dimas, Han SB accompanied a group of Tzu Chi College of Technology students from Taiwan traveling to Utah for an interfaith exchange at the Brigham Young University (BYU). Being new in Tzu Chi at the time and recently graduated, I took the opportunity to travel with the group to help with documentation.
After almost a week in Utah, the students seem tired of the usual sandwiches and finger foods served at the conference meetups or the not-so-authentic Chinese food from locally-owned restaurants. One afternoon, while the students were in a conference and the three guardian SBs debated what to do about dinner, Han SB suggested, “how about we cook for the students?”
I recall following three SBs, who don’t usually cook, to shop for ingredients and cook for the Taiwanese students so they could have some “homemade” Taiwanese food while traveling. Although the SBs seemed confused while cooking throughout the afternoon (it was clear none of them cooked regularly at home – myself included 😂😅, so I was no help), I believe they made the best meal the students had during the trip. Witnessing the process of preparing that dinner was certainly the highlight of the trip for me.
Han Huang and two other SBs shop for the ingredients then cook Taiwanese food for interfaith exchange students, doing their very best despite a lack of cooking experience.
A SB CEO With a Vision of Digital Transformation for Tzu Chi USA
Han SB gave me the opportunity to join Tzu Chi USA as staff in 2014. He wanted Tzu Chi USA to have a strong presence and be visible in the digital world. I remember being on a call with Han and Ting Fan (Director of the Media Center at the time) and proposing a completely new, responsive, mobile-friendly website design. At the end of my presentation, he started thinking about how we could bring this up to Taiwan global headquarters for approval – the US would be the first overseas Tzu Chi branch to have a different website layout from Taiwan global headquarters. He briefly described a bit of the complicated process of getting approval – but at the end, he just said, “let’s do it.” So began my career in Tzu Chi USA.
Throughout the years, he never wavered or turned away from new ideas. We could always bring up new and “crazy” ideas – without being careful about our wording or afraid of being turned down – because he would usually come back with even crazier ideas or ask thought-provoking questions that got us back to the drawing board for a better, or improved idea.
A SB Who Cared Deeply
While working on the first website launch, I recall we had a telephone meeting that lasted till almost 9 PM ET, and I would still have to head home after the call. At the end of the call, Han SB suddenly asked, “Did you eat yet?” I was surprised and replied, “No, I’m going home now,” thinking we’ll hang up soon. But he paused and said, “make sure you take care of yourself – I believe you’ll have a long road in Tzu Chi.”
I recall tearing up at that moment from surprise and gratitude and quietly thanked him before we hung up. Now I wish we had all repeatedly reminded him with the same phrase throughout his years in Tzu Chi.
A Tzu Chi USA 2.0 SB
For me, as a Tzu Chi volunteer/staff whose “thinking language” is in English, Han SB always gave the best speeches, especially during Tzu Ching events. He could always find something to connect with us younger generations of volunteers and include a joke that just resonated. I feel he spoke up for us through many of the new technological developments within Tzu Chi USA.
Although Han SB often called himself Tzu Chi volunteer 1.5, I believe he was the best representative of Tzu Chi 2.0.
His sudden passing has been a shock to me personally and, as I’m also witnessing, to the global Tzu Chi world. I sincerely send my condolences, thoughts, and prayers to his wife Huiping and their families 🥺🙏🏼 . I will keep Han SB in my heart as an inspiration as I continue my path in Tzu Chi.
Han Huang passed away on June 18, 2022. He was a beloved Tzu Chi volunteer and the CEO of Tzu Chi USA from 2012 to 2019. We have received many tributes to his life and legacy. Please join us in remembering our cherished Tzu Chi brother. https://tzuchi.us/RememberingHan