Tzu Chi Irvine Academy’s 21st Graduation Ceremony

National Headquarters  |  June 18, 2019
Students perform “Ode to the Jing Si Dharma Lineage.” Photo by James Huang.

Author: Marilyn Ho
Translated by Qingjun Wei
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto

It was a drizzly day on May 19th, 2019. In the early morning hours, the weather was cool, fresh, and quiet at Tzu Chi Academy in Irvine, CA. Music played inside the gym as the 21st graduation ceremony was just about to commence, and teachers, students, and parents were beginning to arrive.

Han Huang, CEO of Tzu Chi USA, and Ching Shih, Director of Tzu Chi USA’s Education Department, attended the graduation ceremony. Linda Yang, Director of the Orange County Chinese Culture Center, and the General Director of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Los Angeles, was also present to give her blessings.

After receiving their academic awards, the students commenced an oil-paper umbrella fundraising event in accordance with one fundamental goal of Tzu Chi’s humanities education: giving back to society to help others.

Outstanding Graduates With Exceptional Manners and Excellent Grades

The “Qinxing” song kick-started the performances to come. With careful movements and confident transitions, students effectively brought Tzu Chi’s philosophy to new heights. Wan Chen Hua, who’d become principal since last year, hosted the graduation ceremony for the first time.

Students earned several awards. Photo by Dino Lin.

Touched and overjoyed to see her students had matured into such caring and exceptional individuals, she couldn’t help the tears that sprang to her eyes. She also expressed her sincere gratitude for the joint effort shared by devoted parents.

Principal Wan Chen Hua (right) presents the awards. Photo by Dino Lin.
Principal Wan Chen Hua imparts blessings, and bestows souvenirs. Photo by Dino Lin.

In the past year, Irvine students accumulated many academic awards. To acknowledge their achievements, the school arranged an award presentation at the ceremony. Students who received awards thanked their teachers for creating a special learning environment for them which focuses on the humanities and Chinese bilingual studies.

Looking back on every footstep, teachers, parents, and Tzu Chi volunteers felt fulfilled. The school also prepared souvenirs for the principal to present to every award-winning student.

In the past year, Irvine students accumulated many academic awards. To acknowledge their achievements, the school arranged an award presentation at the ceremony. Students who received awards thanked their teachers for creating a special learning environment for them which focuses on the humanities and Chinese bilingual studies.

Looking back on every footstep, teachers, parents, and Tzu Chi volunteers felt fulfilled. The school also prepared souvenirs for the principal to present to every award-winning student.

Tzu Chi's Children: Surrounded by Love

In addition to their academic achievements, Tzu Chi USA’s CEO, Han Huang, expressed that Tzu Chi’s students have also cultivated love in their hearts.

Han Huang, CEO of Tzu Chi USA, delivers a speech. Photo by Dino Lin.

When they grow up, Tzu Chi’s education will play a vital role in their life. It will help them to be helpful and kind-hearted people, which in turn will make the world a better place.

Han Huang CEO of Tzu Chi USA

After encouraging students to put a good, solid effort into their school work, Mr. Huang introduced the Tzu Chi Connect app for mobile phones. It provides details for Tzu Chi’s charity work. He also invited parents and students to participate in the Earth Day Walk on August 17th to show their support for Mother Earth. 

Shih said that the school is like a second family for these children. Accompanied by teachers and Tzu Chi volunteers alike, she expressed her belief that students are in a safe environment with great care and love, which will also help them nurture gratitude, respect, and love. 

Because Tzu Chi’s Irvine Academy has been using textbooks in collaboration with the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, Linda Yang also offered her congratulations. She was grateful for Irvine Academy’s promotion of Chinese education, and encouraged students to practice their Chinese during summer break.

Great Talents, Great Performance

The performance consisted of various types of programs: a song which incorporated sign language, a morning exercise session, rhythm dance, and fan dance. In perfect timing with the drum beats, students also performed dragon and lion dances!

Dragon dance and lion dance performances also took place at the ceremony. Photo by Dino Lin.
Parents give blessing flowers to graduates. Photo by Dino Lin.

In the ‘hallway of humanities’ display, students’ paintings hung proudly on the wall. On one side, various books were placed on the Jing Si stand. These are what fuel Tzu Chi’s humanities teachings. 

A thanksgiving presentation was held as well for graduates to thank their parents. Students sang to express their love for their mothers, and becoming so touched by the lyrics, the audience sang along. Parents then proceeded up to the stage and presented blessing flowers to their children. It was truly a beautiful moment!

The Education That Has Long-Lasting Benefits

Jian-an Lin said he was grateful that teachers taught him to be confident, and cherished the special bond between him and his peers. In the end, he also thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for their love and care.

Lin’s mother was an assistant professor and a parent volunteer. She said that in the past ten years she has participated in many events with her son. Due to this, she and her son have grown closer together. She was delighted that her son has made such achievements.

Charity is similar to gardening. Water the seeds with happiness, and they will grow into blossoms,” Graduate representative

Jian-an Lin
Tzu Chi youth group volunteers from Tzu Shao host the entire ceremony in Chinese. Photo by James Huang.

Tzu Chi Youth volunteers, Karla Shimono and Brandon Lee, were the hosts of the graduation ceremony. The ceremony was all in Chinese, but Karla Shimono is a Japanese graduate. In the beginning, she felt it would be difficult to host in Chinese, but she stood on stage with complete confidence, and showed the audience what she’d learned at the Tzu Chi Academy.

I’m so happy that I’m brave enough to stand on the stage,” said Karla Shimono. She was happy that she’d spent the last ten years learning English, and she was grateful for all teachers who helped her.

Amelie Tsai, one of the Tzu Chi Youth group’s volunteer drummers, said she always wanted to be a teacher since she was a kid. Every Sunday morning she assists the teachers in class #5 of Tzu Chi Academy. She also helped teachers train the drummers. She felt very gratified by taking part in the valuable opportunity.

One student, Edward Huang, was especially grateful to his mother, saying that “Without my mom’s support, I wouldn’t and couldn’t be here playing drums.”

Painting a Vibrant Future

Surrounded by love, the kindness in these children’s nature will be well-nurtured, indeed. Class #6 didn’t just stop at the elegant oil-paper umbrella dance. They additionally donated those hand-painted umbrellas for international disaster relief fundraising.

After the performance, oil-paper umbrellas were sold to raise funds for international disaster relief. Photo by Tony Wang.

The Principal, Wan Chen Hua, donated $100 for an umbrella, followed by Meihui Wang, a parent, who also donated an equal amount. 

Wang stated that by painting the oil-paper umbrellas, students used their talents to help Tzu Chi with its charity work. The donations will be used to aid people around the world, which is very meaningful. 

At the end of the day, seventeen umbrellas were sold, and $600 was raised for international disaster relief. 

In this wonderful graduation season, students reached one milestone and are heading to the next. At Tzu Chi Academy, graduates are like blossoms, indeed: nurtured in the soil of love and kindness that will flourish into a strong and stable forest in a bigger and wider world. Their future, like the oil paper umbrellas, is painted in beautiful colors.

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