“I finally see all my dreams blossoming before me……”
As the lyrics and music of the upbeat popular Mandarin song, “Invisible Wings”, filled the Jing Si Hall, a group of talented students and Tzu Chi volunteers danced to the melodious music. The dance item was one of the highlights of the Seeds of Hope (SOH) Meritorious Award and bursary disbursement ceremony held by the Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) on the 3rd December 2016, at its Jing Si Hall.
One of the dance troupe members was student beneficiary Wu Qi Shan, a dance enthusiast. Before SOH Tzu Chi volunteers began their monthly visits to her home, Qi Shan didn’t have much interaction with her mother. As the eldest daughter, her mother expected her to help with the daily household chores.
To help improve the mother-daughter relationship, during the monthly home visits, Tzu Chi volunteer Luo Shu Fen gave Qi Shan much encouragement and told her that her mother actually needed her support. After visiting her monthly for half a year, Luo learned that she enjoys dancing, and thus encouraged her to join the group of students and volunteers in staging the dance performance at the SOH disbursement ceremony.
“Your mother has a pair of invisible wings, carrying your siblings and you as she flew around. You are one of the batteries of the wings!” Luo said to Qi Shan during a home visit.
Inspired and motivated, Qi Shan, together with two other SOH student beneficiaries and four Tzu Chi volunteers, practised dancing for three weeks, and the dance troupe put up a beautiful performance at the SOH disbursement ceremony.
“I’m very thankful to my classmates and Tzu Chi volunteers, whose support has given me the courage to perform on stage,” Qi Shan said at the ceremony.
Now, she often shares about her life in school with volunteers and is hopeful about getting into the school in which she hopes to further her studies.
Paying the Love Forward
“When we were born, we would sow a seed of our own. Though we may encounter numerous difficulties and setbacks in our journey of life, our seed continues to grow. Despite the harsh winds and rains, our seedling continues to grow towards sunlight, refusing to succumb to adversity. With such a spirit of determination and optimism, I see hope in life. I wish to thank the Tzu Chi volunteers; their care and support was like sunshine to me, as I sprouted and grew like a seed over the past six months. Thank you.”
These moving words were penned by student beneficiary Lin Zhi Yu on a thank you card for Tzu Chi volunteers. A shy and reserved youth, Zhi Yu would simply nod or shake her head in response while interacting with volunteers during the home visits. However, half a year later, she began smiling more often and would give short replies to the volunteers’ enquiries.
On the day of the disbursement ceremony, Zhi Yu and her father came with their “bamboo” coin bank, which they designed themselves, and donated the savings inside to Tzu Chi’s charity fund. The father hurt his lower back not long before, but he insisted to join the Tzu Chi Recycling Day activity in the neighbourhood with his daughter.
“Seeing how much my daughter has grown, I’m very grateful to the volunteers’ care and effort. The savings in this coin bank represent my heartfelt appreciation for Tzu Chi, and we will do more to give back to society from now on,” said the father, Lin Lai Tai.
Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate Xu Shi Min, a bursary recipient, participated in the ceremony for the second time. Despite her busy school schedule, she works part-time to supplement her family’s income. Not only does the Tzu Chi-SMU Bursary help to relieve her financial burden, she has also learned about life’s values from her interactions with Tzu Chi volunteers.
“In the past, I only paid attention to the material aspects of life. From Tzu Chi, I’ve learned to spread love to others around me. Now, I’ve become more patient when interacting with my family and friends. I’m also more understanding and less judgemental towards people,” shared Shi Min.
Another Tzu Chi-SMU Bursary recipient Wang Jun Yuan has participated in Tzu Chi’s Recycling Day activities for about a year. He said he would share the environmental knowledge he learned from the recycling work with his family and friends, and do what he can to give back to society.
A total of 31 tertiary students received Tzu Chi’s bursaries at the ceremony. Besides those from SMU, there were also student beneficiaries from another two tertiary institutions, namely, the Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Technology and Design.
In his speech at the ceremony, a school representative from SMU encouraged the students to pay the love forward: “I believe that everyone is able to repay the gift that Tzu Chi has given you, by paying the love forward. You can start by doing small acts of kindness for those around you, and also join Tzu Chi activities in the future.”
At the end of the event, every student received a handmade bag before they left the Jing Si Hall. These bags were made by survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and Tzu Chi Singapore had purchased the bags as gifts for the students, a reminder for the latter to work to continue the cycle of love and goodness.