Written by Jiali Liu
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Maggie Morgan
On September 10, 2022, Tzu Chi Central Region held the 30th Anniversary of the Year End Blessing Ceremony at the Jing Si Hall in Dallas, Texas. The celebration fell on the same day as the Mid-Autumn Festival which is observed by millions of people in East Asia as they unite under the full moon.
Volunteers invited people from the community to participate and took the opportunity to thank them for their long-time support of Tzu Chi. The gathering served as a reminder of the impact Tzu Chi has made in the area over three decades as well while looking forward to cultivating a better future together.
The services of Tzu Chi Dallas covers central United States and northern Texas, as well as the neighboring states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Tennessee. For 30 years, Dallas volunteers have upheld compassion and love, fulfilled Tzu Chi’s four major aspirations and eight seals, and were listed as full members by the Texas Emergency and Disaster Management Center in 2006. When natural disasters occurred in the local area, Tzu Chi Dallas would get the latest news and collaborate with government and civil organizations on disaster relief as soon as possible.
Under the leadership of the conductor, the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy Jazz Orchestra performed the Tzu Chi song “The Heart of Compassion”. Photo / Mingquan Wang
Celebrate With Partner Schools
The first program of the Ceremony was a three-piece performance by the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy’s Jazz Ensemble. Since its establishment in 2011, this public high school in Dallas has regularly arranged for Tzu Chi volunteers to come every month to conduct character education, that is, the teaching of Jing Si language in English. It has continued for 11 years without interruption. The entire staff and student population has long been part of the Tzu Chi family. In 2012, the school became a partner school with Hualien Tzu Chi Middle School, and in 2016, it was awarded the “Blue Ribbon Award”, the highest honor in the American education industry. For this, Tzu Chi volunteers share the honor.
Nehemiah Davis, a student at Obama Male Leadership Academy, said, “It is a great honor to represent the Obama Male Leadership Academy to participate in the 30th anniversary of Tzu Chi Dallas. The song ‘The Heart of Compassion’ is particularly touching. It is a very good opportunity, and I am very happy to play this piece. I hope the audience can feel our intentions.”
Christopher Young, conductor teacher of the Jazz Orchestra at Obama Male Leadership Academy, shared, “When I first heard The Heart of Compassion’, the lyrics of this song moved me very much. Since I got to know Tzu Chi, Tzu Chi has softened my heart. I am so grateful to have the privilege of getting to know and interact with Tzu Chi, and I look forward to more interactions with you. Thank you Tzu Chi volunteers for your giving to all sentient beings, everything you do is a blessing for many and help changes their outlook on the world. So happy 30th anniversary to you all!”
At the moment of “Bamboo Bank Returns to Home”, the volunteers, students and community leaders present gathered their spare change in the Bamboo Bank to the center of the stage. Photo / Yanxi Zeng
After the Obama Academy performance, it was the time for “Bamboo Bank Returns to Home”. Volunteers, students and community leaders present gathered the small change that they had stored in the Bamboo Bank to the center of the stage. Just as Tzu Chi Dallas has been deeply involved in the local community for 30 years, the seeds of kindness have been accumulated bit by bit, dripping water into rivers and grains of rice into baskets. Gathering everyone’s love is the power to make the world better.
The 14-year-old Tzu Chi Daai Kindergarten in Dallas brought a lively and lovely performance with the song “Happy Little World”. In the bilingual teaching environment of Chinese and English, character and social education go hand in hand with traditional learning for kindergarten children.
President of Obama Academy Reminsces the Past
The 30th anniversary of the Dallas Service Center featured a series of events, as well as the “My Favorite Jing Si Words” academic competition. This competition was held across two schools. The award-winner of Tzu Chi Academy in Dallas and Obama Academy came to the scene today to receive the award.
Five past and current principals and vice-principals from Obama Academy came to Jing Si Hall to congratulate Tzu Chi Dallas on the 30th anniversary and shared their experiences since contacting Tzu Chi.
Nakia Douglas once went to Taiwan twice to visit Master Cheng Yen, and he shared: “When I arrived in Hualien, I saw many Tzu Chi volunteers who shared my educational philosophy. Since returning from Hualien to the United States, I want to bring my educational philosophy back to the school district again to achieve positive results.”
David Welch, who took refuge with Master Cheng Yen in Hualien two years ago, shared: “In Hualien, I visited Tzu Chi elementary, middle and high school. I planted that tree with them, burried a time capsule, and agreed to meet again in 20 years. There’s 17 years left now. I hope everyone will go back to Hualien together. It is a very special experience to visit several Tzu Chi schools, especially to see how students pay attention to environmental protection. There is also a recycle station in the school, so the trip was very rewarding.”
Michael Bland believes that Tzu Chi’s character education not only enhances students’ intelligence, but also nurtures them into leaders. Rashad Jackson, the current principal of Obama Academy, has repeatedly affirmed Tzu Chi’s character education. He said that even during the severe pandemic, volunteers continued to offer meditation teaching for students virtually. This was extremely inspirational for the teachers and students of the whole school.
In addition to sharing their precious experiences, the five principals also performed “I Will Follow You” and “Crossing the Mountains” with Tzu Chi volunteers on the occasion of this joyful celebration of the 30th anniversary of Tzu Chi Dallas, wishing Tzu Chi Dallas a wide range of blessings and better luck.
Sharing the Future with Master Cheng Yen
Master Cheng Yen also sent his concern and encouragement across the ocean through a letter of blessing. Promoting Tzu Chi’s cause overseas is often met with many difficult challenges. He is grateful to everyone for upholding the pure and unsullied kindness and diligently cultivating in the community. At the same time, he also sends infinite blessings, holding that everyone can trust each other with love and altruism and extend Tzu Chi’s legacy for many more 30 years.
At the end of the show, Tzu Chi Dallas performed the song “One Family” in bilingual sign language of both Chinese and English. This familiar song to Tzu Chi volunteers highlighted the essence of Tzu Chi’s great love, regardless of distance, religion, race, and language, treating all those in need as one family. After Tzu Shao performed the sign language song, all the volunteers and the congregation devoutly lit up the lanterns of blessing and wisdom, prayed together, and prayed for the purification of human hearts, social harmony, and a disaster-free world.
At the 30th anniversary milestone, the Dallas office is grateful to Master Cheng Yen for his ardent exhortation and encouragement. As volunteers look forward to many more 30 years in the future, they are dedicated to keep on actively spreading the love of Tzu Chi and irrigating the American society with more love and kindness to immoralize the spirit of Tzu Chi.