Written by Ivy Wong, Hsueh Ming Hsu
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Patrick McShane
On June 10, 2023, Tzu Chi Mid-Atlantic Region held its annual Scholarship Award Ceremony. Winning students came to receive their awards accompanied by their families. 53 students from public high schools in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania applied for this year’s scholarship. A total of 19 high school graduates with outstanding academic performance were awarded after a primary review, a second review, home visits, and feedback from a panel.
This year, Tzu Chi Mid-Atlantic Region adjusted the scholarship amount to match that of the rest of the US due to recent tuition increases. While winners are eligible to continue to receive the scholarship from Tzu Chi if they still need financial assistance during their four years of college, finalists must continue to work hard to earn excellent grades and must also have volunteer experience. Tzu Chi hopes that, in addition to allowing the winning students to learn in school, they could be further inspired to keep kindness and goodness in mind in their future lives. Everyone hopes the students spread love in their communities so that more people can come together to do good and help others.
A Joyful and Family-Oriented Celebration
The ceremony took place in a solemn and warm atmosphere. Jiaxuan Shen, a student at the University of Florida, had been a student at the local Tzu Chi Academy since she was a child. After returning to New Jersey for summer vacation, she immediately took on the role of Master of Ceremonies for this year’s Scholarship Award Ceremony, and the audience was impressed by Jiaxuan’s steady stage presence. Another host, Tzu Chi volunteer Mingqi Zhou, who is also the program planner, introduced Tzu Chi’s four main missions to the students and parents. The winning students knew about Tzu Chi’s four major missions, but through the thoughtful invocation, gained a deeper insight into Tzu Chi.
Volunteer Chunxiao Li led the winners and their family members on a tour of the facility, where they got to know the Tzu Chi USA Mid-Atlantic Region’s Wisdom House and the locations of the routine external services such as food distributions for those and need and the education work at the Tzu Chi Academy campus. Although it was the first time for many of the winners to participate in Tzu Chi’s activities, they were all deeply impressed by the tour.
After the award presentation, everyone moved to the Jing Si Room for a chat. Tzu Chings and Tzu Shaos, members of the university and high-school level youth organizations, worked with Tzu Chi volunteers to serve the tea and participate in the conversation cordially and courteously. Jiaxuan, who grew up in Tzu Chi, also shared her experience of her freshman year of college, how she made good use of her time to study and make friends with other students, as well as how to deal with homesickness.
Passing on Love to Make the World a Better Place
Prize winner Nolani Lloyd was touched by Tzu Chi’s hospitality, “I am truly grateful for today’s trip, and I agree with Tzu Chi’s values. I would be thrilled to come and volunteer here.” Her mother Andrea Anderson is proud of her daughter’s ideals. She said, “My daughter has always been selfless, from volunteering to caring for her neighborhood. We are grateful for the honor of this scholarship that’s awarded to her.”
Emilia Fadasz, a second-time winner of the Tzu Chi Scholarship, is grateful to be awarded the scholarship again. “When I came here last year, I was a high school graduate about to enter college. Now that I’ve completed my first year of college, I’m grateful to be awarded this scholarship again, and I’m grateful for Tzu Chi’s support throughout my college time in my pursuit of academic goals, I’m truly grateful,” she said.
Two winners, Ariana Ponce and Erin Beaudry, expressed their happiness to be awarded the honor in person at the Tzu Chi Service Center and were grateful for the love and care given by all. Ariana was grateful for Tzu Chi’s assistance, after learning about Tzu Chi’s global charitable work at today’s event, she said that she would strive to emulate the spirit of volunteers and help others in the future. Erin said that Tzu Chi’s scholarship will be of great help to her future studies and that she was honored to be able to meet many of the volunteers and learn more about Tzu Chi. She hopes she can use her studies to help make the world a better place.
Executive Director Doris Chang encouraged everyone to spread love by caring for the earth through environmental protection and vegetarianism, and by storing good thoughts with bamboo banks. In addition to receiving scholarships and certificates, the winning students were also presented with a copy of the Jing Si Aphorism in Chinese, English, Japanese, and Spanish. Tzu Chi hopes that these young people will gain spiritual nourishment through the Jing Si Aphorism so that their young lives can go in the right direction in the future and they can contribute what they have learned to society for the benefit of all sentient beings.