Written by Jeffrey Lin
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
On Sunday, February 19, and Sunday, February 26, 2023, Tzu Chi Southern Region, Tzu Chi Academy Houston, and their dedicated teachers, staff, parents, and volunteers joined hands to embody the principles of humanistic education beyond the classroom. Through their collective efforts, they raised over $1,400 for the Turkey earthquake relief by organizing a flea market and utilizing bamboo banks.
This semester, Tzu Chi Academy Houston’s humanistic education theme centered on “benevolence,” aiming to instill empathy in children’s hearts. Two Jing Si Aphorism quotes, “Don’t do good without me, and don’t do bad with me” and “Do good every day, be happy every day,” were the foundations for this theme. In response to the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey, the academy’s teachers promptly adjusted their curriculum to include the suffering of the people in Turkey and Syria and the global humanitarian efforts of Tzu Chi volunteers. In addition, they hoped to inspire children to embrace empathy and encourage everyone to participate in raising funds.
Empathy in Action
Tzu Chi Academy Houston teachers faced challenges incorporating the Turkish earthquake into their lessons since the children had little to no personal experience with this kind of natural disaster. However, with time and effort, Principal Carolyn Chen and her teaching staff educated the students on the earthquake and its impact. They showed videos and photos to the children of the aftermath and explained how many people lost their homes.
Teachers and parents instructed the children to create donation boxes and hold a fundraiser at the school entrance. Their slogans included “Send love to Turkey” and “One dollar is not too little; one hundred dollars is not too much.” Parents and adults also generously contributed to the cause.
One parent reported, “After promising to raise funds at school, my child became more motivated and diligently followed the schedule. Usually, I have to remind my child to get up and go to school, but in the past two days, my child woke up early, eager to contribute to the cause.”
At the beginning of the school year, each Tzu Chi Academy Houston student received a Tzu Chi bamboo bank to collect coins daily or weekly. The amount did not have to be significant. However, the teachers explained how the collective effort enabled Tzu Chi volunteers to aid those affected by disasters.
Many students brought their bamboo banks back to school, full of the money they saved to help the earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria. This act of kindness touched both parents and Tzu Chi volunteers. For instance, student Chloe Yao saved a small amount of money daily from her parents and deposited it into her bamboo bank. Then, when she learned about the suffering of the survivors, she donated all her savings to the Tzu Chi volunteers helping those in need in Turkey and Syria.
Over $800 Raised in Just Over Two Hours
Tzu Chi Academy parent Jojo Lin witnessing Tzu Chi members and volunteers worldwide help earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria. So she decided to organize a flea market charity event. The flea market sale was successful, raising over $800 in just two and a half hours.
All proceeds were donated to the disaster areas, proving that a little love and effort can go a long way.
Parent and photographer Silvia Kwan expressed her deep gratitude towards the Tzu Chi Southern Region, saying, “I was touched to witness the scenes I was photographing. Everyone showed selfless dedication, hoping that they could make a difference for the survivors in Turkey and Syria.”
Through their work, Tzu Chi USA is planting seeds of love and kindness in children’s hearts from a young age. Their approach to education fosters a sense of empathy and compassion in children, which is invaluable in creating a better world for all.