Written by Jennifer Chien
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun
On October 17, Tzu Chi USA will host its annual charity concert. It is Tzu Chi’s largest fundraising event of the year and for the first time ever, it has been made available for viewing to the public online, completely free. The program will feature artists videoing in from across the United States, Taiwan, and Israel. Together, they will perform songs of hope, togetherness, and strength for all of us affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes in the United States, and more adversity in 2020.
Though the majority of performances will be broadcasted from off-site locations, event hosts and special speakers will deliver their remarks in person from the socially-distanced stage at Tzu Chi USA Headquarters in San Dimas, CA. Masters of ceremonies include Angela Chen, an Emmy-nominated journalist and current news anchor for KESQ, and Tzu Chi volunteer Braden Ho.
Banding Together Virtually
The purpose of the concert, as Jackson Chen, the Chief Executive Officer of Tzu Chi USA, explains, is that viewers “reach into the depths of [their] compassion to help families affected by the pandemic, to help them when they need it most, and accompany them through difficult times.”
This is of great importance because of the high case rates of coronavirus infections and steep economic impacts subsequent lockdowns have brought upon people all across America. To make matters worse, wildfires in the western US have brought additional disaster to families in COVID-19 stricken states like California, and hurricanes and flooding in the South have made impacted families more vulnerable to infection. Equally painful, Jackson emphasizes that tragic events like these “have ultimately exacerbated the economic pain.”
Building the Muscles of Compassion
Tzu Chi volunteers at the San Dimas Headquarters assemble an outdoor stage for the concert. Photo/Mandy Lo
In preparation for this important event, Tzu Chi volunteers have been working diligently for the past two months. This work has included numerous online meetings to discuss health and safety compliance, site surveys, venue planning, program scheduling, and more. Yet, on October 3, a record heat wave hit San Dimas – the day that more than a dozen volunteers would arrive at the headquarters campus to setup the stage for the concert outdoors. Volunteers worked together to assemble the stage piece by piece in the heat.
At the same time, many members of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association were having a meeting. It included doctors and medical volunteers, many of which, during their breaks, pitched in to help move heavy pieces. Veteran Tzu Chi volunteer Martin Kuo said that “even with the 100° heat, volunteers spent two hours setting up the venue for the concert, and everyone’s sweating – but their hearts were filled with joy.”
Invite Your Friends and Enjoy the Show
The stage finally assembled, volunteers pose for a celebratory photo. Photo/Mandy Lo
Another key to success for the concert includes the promotion of the concert and personal advocacy for fundraising efforts. Many Tzu Chi volunteers took it upon themselves to spread the word about the event to their families, friends, and social networks. Many even attended an online training, held in both Mandarin Chinese and in English to learn how to effectively leverage their social networks to this end.
Performers From Various Countries
The lineup of the concert itself is a diverse one, featuring artists not only from different countries, but each coming from distinct musical traditions.
Dr. Han Huang, Vice President of Tzu Chi USA, noted that what each artist has in common is their connection to Tzu Chi. For example, Haitian singer-songwriter Paul Beaubrun witnessed Tzu Chi’s continuous care for Haiti since the 2010 earthquake at the grand opening for a photo exhibition on Haiti at the Tzu Chi Center in New York City last year – where he also performed. Ecuadorian singer Ximena Ibarra, too, is a volunteer herself with Brigada de Esperanza NY and has collaborated with Tzu Chi volunteers in New York City many times. Working alongside Tzu Chi volunteers, she learned more about Tzu Chi’s relief work in Ecuador and has been so moved by our work that she was happy to join the charity concert as a performer. The deep connection we have to one another is mutual.
Tzu Chi volunteer Rosi Ueng is in charge of Tzu Chi’s sign language team, who will also perform at the charity concert. With emotion, she said, “I hope one hand holds another hand… When there are ten thousand hands or more, it will become a world of a thousand hands – the thousand hands of Buddha. As long as everyone in the world holds hands, we can achieve what Master Cheng Yen hopes for: a peaceful and disaster-free world.”
Other artists include Taiwanese folk singers Chyi Yu and Shou Chuan Lee, New York City actors and performers Austin Ku and Ya Han Chang, world-renowned Israeli singer/songwriter/composer David D’or, Tzu Chi’s HsinYa Choir, professional golfer and instrumentalist Charles Wang, and the students of Tzu Chi’s Great Love Preschools in Walnut and Monrovia, CA, and Dallas and Houston, TX. Together, they will celebrate unity from all corners of the world.
Tzu Chi volunteers across the country are ready for this Saturday, October 17. Will you join us?