Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 21st
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Home Feature Stories One Year After Earthquake in Nepal A Classroom of Humanistic Culture, a Palace for Children

A Classroom of Humanistic Culture, a Palace for Children

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An earthquake is without mercy, it has destroyed their community. It has left children with no means to go to school. They spend the whole day in makeshift tents, with nothing to do. Tzu Chi volunteers set up humanities classes, bringing not only care and concern but also happiness and humanistic values to the youngsters. In the morning, they taught Jing Si (Still Thoughts) Aphorisms. In the afternoon, they bring the children out for hands-on activities. Facilitated by six young local volunteers, they led the children in collecting rubbish around the tent area and recycle them.

Jing Si Aphorism taught for first time in the tents

The simple classroom for the humanities class is right beside the Tzu Chi free clinic. They use the foldable beds as chairs. Hung on the walls are the lyrics of the Tzu Chi song "prayer" in Nepali, English and Chinese and the banner of Tzu Chi. With this very simple setup, the class is good to go!

The lesson starts with volunteer Lin Shu-zhen teaching sign language which immediately catches the children's interest. The Jing Si Aphorism for today's class is “Those who have self-discipline are loved by all”. Written in English on a piece of cardboard, young local volunteer Ria explains it in Nepali.

To find out whether the children have understood the meaning of the aphorism, Chen Ding-bang, department head of communication studies in Tzu Chi University, invited three of them to share their understandings. One of them was Aina, a girl with long hair and wearing a yellow dress. With a broad smile, she said: “I must first learn to be disciplined and then love others.”

Humanities class is palace for heart of children

Most people who escaped from the earthquake are living in the tents, many of them are children. In the light of this, Xie Li-hua, a department head at the Tzu Chi College of Technology, brought many teaching materials from Taiwan, such as word cards in English and films on tablet about the story of Little Ants. The teachers use films to attract children to the classroom. At just the right moment, they would take out crayons and gather the children for drawings.

During the class, another local volunteer, Aun, aged 17, did the translation into Nepali. While Aun helps in teaching, he also learns from the Aphorisms - “Say Good Words, Think Good Thoughts, Do Good Deeds.”

Chen Ding-bang explained that, while doing home visits the day before, many children followed the volunteers around, having nothing to do. That was when he had the thought of setting up a humanities class for the children so that education may begin.

Soon, the humanities classroom was up and running. Initially, Chen feared that only eight or nine children would attend. “Within less than 20 minutes, we went from 10 to 20 and then 40 children. There is a lot of interaction and the students can feel the warmth and joy.” The Jing Si Aphorisms are easy to understand. Seeing the warm smiles from the children, Chen said with confidence: “slowly they will learn them, one or two a day. And the aphorisms will influence them for the rest of their lives.”

(Report by Li Mei-ju, Ku Chi-hung and Li Lao-man in Nepal May 22, 2015)