“Our teacher is like our mother; she teaches us with love, care and patience. Today, all grown up, I am graduating and will really miss everyone.” Three little graduates of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool stood in front of the audience to deliver the lines which they had taken days to memorize, and though Kam Hao Re, Chua Fu Jun and Lek Chor Seng looked a little anxious, their lines were flawlessly delivered. Their serious and respectful demeanour moved the teachers and parents who were watching on, and warm applause broke out among the audience.
Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool finally welcomed its first batch of graduates six months after its opening. The graduation ceremony was held at its Yishun premises, and though there was only three little ones graduating, the teachers put in their best efforts to prepare for the ceremony and invited the parents as well as 25 of its students to celebrate this milestone. Together, they witnessed this important developmental phase of the children and made up part of the students’beautiful childhood memories.
Nurturing Little Seedlings
The ceremony opened with a screening of a video clip that documented short snippets of heartwarming moments; students of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool serving tea to their elders, dusting and cleaning up their environs, participating in outdoor learning sessions and being taught environmental conservation and how to save on their water usage—these scenes evoked smiles and nods of approval from the parents.
Just as if they were young seedlings, the young charges of the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool were carefully nurtured over the last six months. CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) Low Swee Seh, Tzu Chi's head of administrative matters Keng Lim and the head of the PreSchool Ms Ong Suan Paik were present to give their blessings. They handed out the graduation certificates and ceremonially “turned the tassels”on the cap of the three students, a gesture which indicates that students have graduated.
CEO Low Swee Seh thanked parents for their support in his speech, and promised that the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool would put in even greater efforts in its curriculum to ensure that the seeds of good would be firmly planted in the heart of each child. Equal emphasis will be placed on moral ethics, life skills and academic knowledge to ensure that the PreSchool will continue to turn out wholesome students.
The parents of the three graduates were present throughout the entire ceremony, and seeing their little ones offer them tea respectfully with both hands, were moved to tears as they gathered them in a tight embrace. When Chua Fu Jun saw his mother crying, he too burst into a torrent of tears.
Chua Fu Jun’s mother said emotionally, “We searched for half a year and could not find a school for him. Fortunately the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool was willing to accept him and now that his long-awaited graduation has dawned, I am truly touched.”
Chua Fu Jun suffers from a mild case of hyperactivity and hence his learning journey has been fraught with more challenges as compared to his peers. He had already delayed his primary education by a year, and his mother had difficulty finding a school for him ever since he left the last kindergarten he was enrolled in.
Last year, his mother Madam Ng Theng Theng heard that the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool was opening its doors and filled with hope, came to enquire for a place for him. “The management said it was not a problem but needed to seek the teacher’s opinion. I have never encountered this before, and felt that this school respected its teachers as well as others, and my heart was filled with admiration.”
Over the last half year, the teachers used skilful means to teach her son and were patient with him. Never once was he treated as a special student. Under the fair and equal treatment meted out by teachers, Chua Fu Jun grew in confidence and was able to integrate successfully with the rest of his classmates. He became more cheerful and now that it was time to graduate, he said, “I cannot bear to leave because my friends are all here.”
While Madam Ng used to feel resentful when she could not get a school for her son in the past, she now expressed with feeling, “This school meets all my expectations and is close to being perfect. Sometimes being late is not necessarily a bad thing!”
Life Education Inspires Kind Thoughts
Madam Seng Tzer Jing the mother of Kam Hao Re, represented the other parents and in her speech, she happily expressed that the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool was the perfect school of choice in her heart.
Madam Seng and her husband come from Malaysia and as a dual income family, they have been sending their two children to the childcare centre from the time they were two months old. The Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool was the fourth school for their children and in comparing the various schools that her children have attended, Madam Seng feels that the education philosophy in Tzu Chi is of good standing. Every day, she makes it a point to discuss together, the teachings contained in the Jing Si Aphorisms which her children have learnt in school that day. She noticed that her children have changed for the better, the most obvious change being the improvement in their temperaments.
In addition, her children have been influenced by the teachings in school that promote respect for life and environmental conservation. She revealed that at home, her son will request for advertisement flyers or recycled paper to draw on in favour of white paper. He will also tell his parents to love animals, and abstain from killing and meat consumption. As a result, their household has reduced the consumption of meat. Madam Seng notes that a good educational environment is a very important influence on a child’s development.
Sean Lek’s father Mr Lek Chor Seng said with much sentiments, “The children will definitely miss this school after graduation (as) they have have had a wonderful time here.”
At the close of the graduation ceremony, on the cue of the teachers, the three little graduates performed a sign language song together with their classmates entitled “House of Great Love”to express their thanks for the guidance of the Master, their teachers and their parents. It was a fitting conclusion for the ceremony, and one hopes that the Bodhi seeds that have taken root in the young hearts will continue to grow and bring happiness to mankind.