On the morning of Saturday, 23rd November 2019, the newly opened Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre was bustling with people. The visitors had smiles on their faces as they viewed the art works of a group of preschoolers who were graduating on that day. When they heard music coming from the hall, everyone made a beeline to the hall’s entrance.
The crowd at the Youth Centre was there to attend the graduating ceremony of the 6th graduating cohort of Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool. Apart from the 18 graduating students, 56 students from K1 and N2 classes were also present at the venue. During the event, the students presented a skit and sign language and song performances for a 200-plus strong audience consisting mostly of parents of the graduating K2 students.
When the soothing music of a walking meditation was being played, the K2 students, under the guidance of the emcee, walked slowly and steadily onto the stage to have their tassels “turned” and to receive their graduation certificates.
The teachers and principal of the Great Love PreSchool gently moved the tassel of the mortar board on each student from the right to the left. This gesture symbolised a blessing to the child, with the hope that he/she will become a mature and humble individual.
At this time, many parents could be seen taking photos of the kids with their mobile phones. As they captured the precious moments, their faces broke into happy smiles.
The mission of nurturing and educating young children
“I would like to thank my parents and other senior members of my family for allowing me to grow up healthily in the (Great Love PreSchool). I am able to grow in confidence, perseverance and courage, which helps me to overcome difficulties. In the last 3 years, I’ve learned to express myself in English and Mandarin. I also want to thank my elder sister for helping me in my studies, which enables me to use three languages (English, Mandarin and Burmese) to communicate with my friends.
On behalf of my classmates, I thank all our dear teachers. Thank you all for your patience and love, and for all the wonderful things you have done for us. We will carry your blessings with us and take good care of our hearts and minds as we courageously strive forward to spread the seeds of love. Hopefully, our little strength can help to bring purity to people’s hearts, too. Thank you.”
Htoo Aung Khant, who hails from Myanmar, represented his class to deliver a speech in influent Mandarin, earning a rousing applause from the audience.
“Seeing how my child went to school happily each day and shared with us about his day after school, we feel really happy and are very thankful to the teachers for their meticulous care,” shared the mother of a preschooler.
She really appreciated the efforts and hard work of the teachers as she witnessed how her son had grown up to be a confident, independent and happy child. The teachers at the Great Love PreSchool not only help their students develop intellectually, but also help them in character development by teaching them Jing Si Aphorisms*.
The father of another preschooler shared that all his three kids attended Great Love PreSchool, where they had learned to take care of their daily living needs as well as build up their confidence. He added that such a wholesome preschool education is crucial in shaping young children’s character.
He proudly revealed that his son knows how to pack his own schoolbag, fold clothes and personally does a lot of things on his own. In addition, the boy is filial and respectful towards his parents and senior family members while also treats others with courtesy.
He also vividly remembered how his son encouraged him and his wife not to “kill lives” after participating in the “Fruit and Vegetable Planet” series of activities organised by the PreSchool. They had also learned how livestock farming contributes significantly to global warming as their son had explained to them the reason behind “Mother Earth falling sick”.
*Wise sayings by Tzu Chi’s founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen
The vice principal of Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool, Win Moh Moh Han, said movingly, “Seeing how the children staged the performances confidently, I really feel proud of them. I thank the them for learning diligently and presenting such wonderful performances.”
She added that she was grateful to all the teachers for their attentive care and for helping the children to develop compassion for others and to learn how to help others in kindness.
Although she often felt exhausted from her work, and had even thought of giving up her job, she would feel motivated whenever she thought of the children. She said that all her efforts and hard work would be worthwhile as long as they benefited the latter.
The busiest and happiest staff member at the graduation ceremony ought to be Audrey Koh, the principal of the Great Love PreSchool. She was often seen hugging the little ones and posing for photographs with them as well as chatting with parents. While watching the children perform on stage, she was visibly moved and quietly wiped her tears away a number of times.
“Love all the children in the world with the loving heart of a mother.” – This particular Jing Si Aphorism struck a deep chord with Koh. She stressed that parents and teachers are the role models for young children and that with good models, the kids can be nurtured into strong pillars of our society.
Teachers of Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool incorporate Tzu Chi’s humanistic values and Jing Si Aphorisms into their lessons. Besides learning basic literacy and numeracy skills, the children also attend Jing Si tea art and flower arrangement classes. The little ones learn manners and decorum in the tea art class, and to appreciate life and nature in the flower arrangement class.
“Our students are equipped with academic skills and have good morals. They are also wise children,” said Koh, resolutely.