Written by Joli Liu
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Andrea Barkley
In today’s world, disasters such as floods, fires, typhoons, wars, famines, and plagues occur frequently, impacting regions globally. The teachers and students of Tzu Chi Academy, Cupertino are working together to participate in humanitarian activities. For example, they used the money collected from bamboo banks to help Turkey and Syria recover from a destructive earthquake this past year.
California has endured several years of drought, but in March 2023, the state faced a new challenge as an atmospheric river brought a severe storm and heavy rain, leading to a state of emergency declaration across thirty-nine counties. After discussions between the school and parents, a collective decision was made to relaunch the fair and donate the proceeds to Tzu Chi for international disaster relief efforts.
A Happy Relaunch After Four Years of Hiatus
The last school fair of Tzu Chi Academy, Cupertino was in 2019. Four years later, organizers relaunched it on April 29, 2023. The weather was sunny and warm. At 8:30 in the morning, volunteers arrived one after another to start the site layout work. After sending their children into the classrooms, parents also came to the atrium of the campus to join in the layout work.
Twelve classes in the school set up ten charity sales booths, and the school administration team also had a stall selling handmade sandwiches, mochi, taro cakes, handmade soaps, and candles made by volunteers.
The school fair officially started at 10:30, and only half a pot of sticky rice, made by Huiying Gao, a parent of the Form 4 class, remained at the end of the day. Her four grandsons are students at the school. In 2019, she prepared sticky rice for her grandchildren’s school fair. This year, she was once again entrusted by the class representative to make sticky rice. The process of making sticky rice is intricate. The day before, she soaked and washed the Fried Seitan Rolls, removed the grease, cooked mushrooms, and sliced dried beans and radishes. Then, to ensure its quality, she woke up at four o’clock in the morning to steam the glutinous rice. After several rounds of steaming, she mixed in the ingredients. This fragrant sticky rice was prepared with love and enjoyed by all.
In addition to the food charity sale, Lingning Zhang, the parent of a student in the Form 1 class, called on several parents to do a charity sale of second-hand books and toys. Through this activity, the proceeds from the charity sale can also be used to help Tzu Chi engage in disaster relief services.
Parents and Students Showcase Their Talents
Each class of students showcased their talents at the school fair. The Form 1 class’s Thai fried noodles and Imagawayaki won the “Most Creative Food Award,” while the Form 2 class received the “Most Sustainable Award” for their recycling container initiative. The Form 5 class impressed others with booth decorations created by the students, earning them the “Best Decoration Award.”
The coveted “Principal Award” for exceptional quality went to the Form 3 class, whose parents contributed to creating healthy and delicious food. Parent Hongyu Niu’s “Inari Sushi” featured homegrown wolfberries with sushi rice accompanied by seaweed, chrysanthemum, pickled radish, and black sesame.
The joint booth of the Zhuyin (K) Class and the Form First grade class secured second place, offering Taiwanese fried rice noodles and Vietnamese spring rolls. Vietnamese parent Jasmine Mai, who enrolled her son in the Cupertino Zhuyin (K) Class, prepared vegetarian spring rolls made with tofu, lettuce, vegetarian ham, and noodles for the charity sale.
Jasmine shared, “I sent my son to Tzu Chi’s Zhuyin (K) Class because I want him to learn Chinese. I spent 5 hours preparing Vietnamese spring rolls today, but I find it very meaningful.”
After a four-year hiatus, the school fair returned, uniting the efforts of teachers, students, and the administrative team to raise funds for international disaster relief. The hard work paid off with a joyful atmosphere and the gratification of contributing to a meaningful cause.