Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Natasha Palance
“The 2019 scholarships go to…” Tzu Chi New York Chapter has been awarding scholarships to students since 1992. The scholarship, which awards $1,000 to each recipient, reflects a value that holds great significance of Tzu Chi’s global reach. Thanks to small charitable donations from compassionate volunteers around the world, the program has been providing undergraduates with funding for more than 20 years.
At this year’s Tzu Chi New York Chapter award ceremony, 12 high school students and 7 college student scholars were recognized for their distinguished academic and personal excellence as honorable scholarship recipients for 2019. After learning of the source of the scholarship funds, these young scholars felt that the blessing they each held in their hands was priceless.
Tzu Chi Scholar recipient Elisa Shaholli’s commenced the ceremony with an introductory speech. Afterwards she stated, “It felt really awesome to be able to go in front of people and give a message of kindness and perseverance.”
Hope for the Future
Tzu Chi Scholars are the hopes of the future. As each scholar enters their next chapter in life, these students are now equipped to use acquired knowledge to better themselves and make a difference in their communities — and, motivated by great love, perhaps the world.
In determining eligible recipients, the program assesses all components of each student’s life to ensure all qualities of value are acknowledged. “We don’t have a fixed award standard, but we’ll consider everything, go through different criterias and also [conduct] home visits,” Tzu Chi volunteer Taichen Chu explained. Taichen sees the scholars on stage as ‘seeds of goodness,’ who when equipped with the right building blocks for success can flourish to their full potential. Taichen continued, “We understand that these students are enthusiastic in their academic performance and also want to serve their community.”
At the heart-warming and joyful award ceremony, the scholarship winners and their families were informed of Tzu Chi’s footprints around the world. Tzu Chi’s financial generosity has not only inspired these bright young minds to pay this universal kindness forward, but has also allowed each student to be one step closer to their goals.
Gathering Unconditional Love
A majority of the scholarship recipients come from minority immigrant families. Many of their parents left their home countries to start a new life in the United States, filled with hopes for better circumstances for their children including a better education and career advancement. However between cultural differences and language barriers, many of these families have suffered from financial challenges – some working multiple jobs at once in order to pay the bills, all the while investing their resources into their children’s future. Seeing the challenges that these families face, Tzu Chi extends its compassionate arms to lend a helping hand in hopes of enabling these parents to fulfill their dreams and that of their children.
Tzu Chi Scholar Christian Domínguez has been curious about healthy eating since he was a child. In the future, he intends to pursue this passion and become a dietitian. “I learned that there were a lot of people suffering from different conditions like diabetes and other [health conditions], so that was kind of the motivation too,” Christian explained.
Knowing the Tzu Chi scholarship will help her child to pursue his dream of becoming a dietitian, Christian’s mother Sonia Flores Domínguez said, “I hope my child can do whatever he wants within his abilities, because I [couldn’t] fulfill my dream [without access] to resources in my time.” On the day of the award ceremony, she proudly celebrated Christian as he crossed the stage to receive his award from a Tzu Chi volunteer.
Like many high school students, Christian has a youthful spirit with his braces and passion for soccer. However when asked about his parents, his demeanor took a more serious tone. Coming from a family with financial hardship has inspired Christian to pursue a life that his parents have always wanted for him: “I want to be able to live a life that a lot of my family wasn’t able to have since they never had the chance to have their own house. [With] all of the money and love that they [have] dedicated to me, I really need to make it worth something; I need to make it worth something that I can give back to them, that’s the biggest thing that’s going to motivate me.”
Like many of these scholars, everything that his parents give, he keeps it deeply in the bottom of his heart. Even if their dining table is his desk, it will not deter Christian’s efforts and passion to pursue his education. In the evenings, the family surrounds the table with love and respect, warming up a home full of hope.