News (2006-2016) News 2016 News Children Celebrate Green Philosophy at Graduation

Children Celebrate Green Philosophy at Graduation

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The graduates of Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool perform the musical, “Our Green Home,” exhorting everyone to recycle and love the earth. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)The graduates of Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool perform the musical, “Our Green Home,” exhorting everyone to recycle and love the earth. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)

“Thank you teachers, for your hard work. We love you.” Graduating valedictorian Soh Shao Quan stood on stage and delivered his speech with care and clarity. Apart from expressing their gratitude for their teachers at the third graduation ceremony of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool, the students broke away from the usual format and performed a musical entitled, “Our Green Home,” exhorting their audience to recycle together to care for the earth.



Valedictorian Soh Shao Quan (first from left) expresses appreciation for the teachers on behalf of his cohort. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)Valedictorian Soh Shao Quan (first from left) expresses appreciation for the teachers on behalf of his cohort. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)
The graduates of the PreSchool all decked out in their graduation robes and hats, receiving the blessings of their teachers during the customary “turning of the tassel” ritual. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)The graduates of the PreSchool all decked out in their graduation robes and hats, receiving the blessings of their teachers during the customary “turning of the tassel” ritual. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)
Principal of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool  Audrey Koh (right) was moved to tears by the children’s efforts on stage. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)Principal of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool Audrey Koh (right) was moved to tears by the children’s efforts on stage. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)
After a year at the PreSchool, Dayyan has greatly improved from the mischievous and bad-tempered boy he once was, and is now an obedient child. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)After a year at the PreSchool, Dayyan has greatly improved from the mischievous and bad-tempered boy he once was, and is now an obedient child. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)
Not just the graduating students but the younger students too, were involved in the musical. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)Not just the graduating students but the younger students too, were involved in the musical. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)
The musical “Our Green Home,” was scripted by the PreSchool teachers. Care was taken from the costumes down to the props used, so that every student would be enthusiastically engaged in the production. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)The musical “Our Green Home,” was scripted by the PreSchool teachers. Care was taken from the costumes down to the props used, so that every student would be enthusiastically engaged in the production. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)
The amused faces of the parents as they watched the children on stage performing the musical (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)The amused faces of the parents as they watched the children on stage performing the musical (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)
Boo Ray Sheng’s mother (second from right) commented that a musical with a green theme would help to raise awareness of the environment and make a lasting impression in the children. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)Boo Ray Sheng’s mother (second from right) commented that a musical with a green theme would help to raise awareness of the environment and make a lasting impression in the children. (Photo by Lin Meng Cai)
The artwork of the graduands, including self-portraits and especially the handicrafts made from recycled materials on display in the main hall attracted much interest. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)The artwork of the graduands, including self-portraits and especially the handicrafts made from recycled materials on display in the main hall attracted much interest. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)
Twins Wei Zhen and Wei Zhang often remind their parents of earth-friendly practices, such as saving on resource consumption. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)Twins Wei Zhen and Wei Zhang often remind their parents of earth-friendly practices, such as saving on resource consumption. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

The Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool held a graduation ceremony for its third cohort of graduates on 19 November 2016 at the Jing Si Hall. That day, a total of 318 people gathered together to witness the graduation of 20 students in a dignified and simple ceremony, where the nursery and kindergarten students from the PreSchool expressed their gratitude to their parents and teachers through sign language and musical presentations.

On screen, video clips of crying children clinging onto their parents on the first day of school as well as other learning moments captured over the years brought back memories for sharing with the audience.

“Education is a project of hope (for the future), we hope to use (the wisdom within) Jing Si Aphorisms to teach the little ones,” said Audrey Koh, Principal of the PreSchool, in her speech on graduation day.

The Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool places an emphasis on character building of its students, so that apart from learning how to be independent, the children know that they have to do good to benefit society as well. Hence, children enrolled at the PreSchool not only gain academic knowledge, they also learn about loving the environment through outdoor activities, that vegetarianism can help the earth, and build good moral character through learning Jing Si Aphorisms (wise sayings by Master Cheng Yen).

Learning About Love and Respect

Soh Shao Quan has changed tremendously over the three years he was at the PreSchool. “Speaking positively is just like having lotuses emerge from one’s mouth; if you speak negatively, your friends will feel sad,” he said as he shared his favourite Jing Si Aphorism. As he talked about the things he learnt at the PreSchool, his father could not help but shed a tear or two and emoted, “He has grown up!”

“Cleaning the floor, washing dishes, making his bed, bathing and wearing his uniform—these are the things he does independently and this has lightened our load,” said his parents. They had sent their child to the PreSchool as it was near their home, and were pleasantly surprised at his transformation. His mother smiled with amusement as she related how he would sometimes button up his shirt wrongly, however, that was already an improvement. Before he became a student of the PreSchool, he would throw a tantrum each time he heard or met with something that he did not like. Now, however, he is much more well-behaved.

Dayyan too, has a similar story to tell. After a year at the PreSchool, he lost his bad temper and mischievous ways and is now an obedient child.

“To cultivate good character, it is a must to start from young,” said his mother.

Dayyan is the only Muslim graduating K2 student and his mother agrees with Tzu Chi’s teaching philosophy, desiring that her son learn to have respect and love for others. She revealed that because of the change in her son, her outlook too, became optimistic.

She said that not only did the PreSchool teach their students how to behave, the teachers would also explain the reasoning behind the appropriate action. In this way, humanistic values are instilled in the children and they develop good moral character.

A year prior to enrolling in the PreSchool, Dayyan would not touch any greens on his plate. With the patient persuasion of his teacher, he gradually came round to the thought of eating vegetarian food. His mother is pleased with the change in his attitude as she has always felt that vegetarian food is a healthy alternative.

“The child’s attitude and thinking is ultimately the most important,” said Dayyan’s mother. She feels that if a child learns how to be a good person, he will naturally apply the same principles in his academic life. Seeing her child as he is today, she does not regret her decision. With two children already studying in the PreSchool, she hopes to have her third child enrolled in it too, in the future.

Liang Le Bin, one of the graduates, suffers from Sensory Integration Dysfunction and is very sensitive to his environment. He gets frightened when there are many people around. His parents however, have seen the changes in him. This year and last year, he was able to stand on stage and present a sign language item. The year before, he was unable to sign along successfully but this year, by looking at the teachers down stage, he was able to do so even when he was not completely sure of himself.

The Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool was the third preschool that Le Bin had enrolled in, and under the care of his teachers, he gradually stopped being the sulky little boy he was in the past. He picked up better social and communication skills and now willingly takes part in class activities with greater confidence.

“He is now more independent and will take the initiative to keep his toys and the dishes. He will even remind his brother to do so,” shared his father, who was astonished at the changes in his son in a span of a few months. His parents now have confidence that he will be able to face the challenges of going to primary school.

Singing to a Greener Earth

In a departure from the previous graduation ceremonies held, a 60-minute green musical was staged by the current cohort of graduates, with students from the other levels joining in the performance with simple sign language and dancing.

“Our world will become more and more dirty, little children will not have clean environments to live in……” In the musical, the little “animals and insects” sang out their heartfelt thoughts. They brought across the message with lively animatedness, i.e. how mankind is polluting the earth, and encouraged everyone to save the planet.

Boo Ray Sheng, the only son in his family, played the part of a little dragonfly in the musical. His entire family including his parents, grandparents and aunt turned up to watch his performance. His mother Tan Wee Pin expressed great satisfaction with the education he received at the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool and felt happy that the Tzu Chi parent-child bonding classes are available for her son to continue his character education after he starts primary school.

Parents of twins Youn Wei Zhen and Youn Wei Zhang thoroughly enjoyed their children’s performance; it was akin to watching them display everything that they had learnt about the environment on stage. The twins would often remind their parents to switch off the lights, reduce aircon consumption and save water at home, explaining that the polar bears would not have a place to live otherwise. Their mother said, “The decision to send them to the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool was a correct one.”

In his speech, CEO of Tzu Chi Singapore Low Swee Seh said that Master Cheng Yen emphasized that education is not just about academic knowledge; character building and moral cultivation are just as important. He stated his hopes that the children would be able to apply what they had learnt in their daily lives.

At the conclusion of the “turning the tassel” ritual, which symbolised that the graduates would soon leave the familiar environment of the PreSchool, it was evident that they would leave with not only fond memories, but a heart for Mother Earth and humanistic values firmly instilled in them.

 

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