Written by Nancy Ku
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
The weekend of April 8, 2023, marked a nationwide community service effort for Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (TCCA) members, also referred to as Tzu Ching. Every year in the Spring, all TCCA clubs and alumni from the east coast to the west coast organize local community service activities on the weekend of April 8 and 9 to demonstrate the spirit of youth in action, in an event known as Tzu Chi Annual Community Weekend.
Thirteen TCCA groups independently organized community service events on separate days during the weekend. On April 8, nine TCCA members and two counselors from the University of California, Davis, participated in this initiative by cleaning up the River Park along the American River in Sacramento, CA. By collecting litter before it enters the river and, ultimately, the Pacific Ocean, the young volunteers prevented potential harm to the ocean’s delicate ecosystem.
Sacramento, also known as the River City, is home to the east-to-west flowing American River. The American River Parkway Foundation (ARPF) in Sacramento County invited local residents and groups to adopt parks along the river to keep the river and its surroundings clean. This initiative aims to promote environmental protection and discourage littering. Tzu Chi adopted the ninth mile of the river’s north bank and committed to quarterly cleanups. On April 8, the volunteer team gathered to clean up this mile of the riverside park.
The weather was sunny and pleasant on the cleanup day, and many people were out jogging or biking. They expressed gratitude for the cleanup efforts when they saw Tzu Ching members with their rubbish bags and supplies. The atmosphere in the park was peaceful and harmonious. Over the course of two hours, Tzu Ching members were able to contribute to environmental protection and show love for the earth. They also had the opportunity to connect with fellow TCCA members locally and strengthen friendships, bringing happiness to everyone involved.
A Return Visit Home Inspires Good Deeds
Roger Ku, a UC Davis graduate, came home to visit his family in Sacramento during the Ching Ming Festival and was able to catch the cleanup effort. At first, he was hesitant to participate, but the event soon touched his heart, and took on new meaning.
Because of the many bottles and cans present, Ku joked, “This must be a good place to drink; I picked up beer bottles, beer cans, small bottles. It felt good to clean them.”
“Earlier in the day, a jogger walked by and said thank you for cleaning up the trash,” Ku shared. “It’s nice to know that people appreciate the work that we do. Two other women asked what we were doing. I told them about Tzu Chi and how we adopted this mile of the American River Bike Trail, and how we would come to clean up a couple of times a year. They were very grateful.”
Sharing Compassionate Work and Wisdom
While cleaning the park, Tzu Chings talked about school, classes, and problems with homework. They learned from each other, taking full advantage of the time together.
“The weather is nice, and I like the way we work together,” Tzu Ching Allison Lu said happily. Chris Wang, a fellow Tzu Ching, shared his surprise at the activity, “We found some interesting things, like a fire extinguisher, and we didn’t expect to find a fire extinguisher by the river. We also found an electric thing. It was like a toy with a motor, very interesting.”
The Tzu Chings wore their signature Tzu Chi USA Young Leaders shirt, displaying their core message: “Unite & Serve Together,” sharing their desire to serve the community diligently. Their efforts made the River Park along the American River clean and beautiful, indeed.