Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jan 16th
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Home Our Missions Mission of Education A Humanitarian Education - Going where they are most needed

A Humanitarian Education - Going where they are most needed

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A Humanitarian Education
A humanitarian education
Going where they are most needed
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Going where they are most needed
People who come to visit the Tzu Chi school are often impressed by the teaching staff. "The teachers here are efficient and effective, very different from other schools," remarked one visitor.

Because the school is located in a remote area, it has never been an easy task to recruit teachers. Chen Chao-hai (陳朝海), in charge of the Tzu Chi mission of education in Thailand, told us that the school had held three recruiting exams in the past, and although more than 60 teachers signed up for each exam, no more than 20 teachers ever showed up. The remote location of the school was the main reason for such a poor turnout.

Principal Chongmansathaporn said that she herself had almost decided not to come to the school after she learned how isolated it was. She still remembered her first visit to the school. She left Bangkok bright and early that day, but night was already falling by the time she arrived at the school. She was disheartened by the remoteness of the school. "I love freedom, and I want to be able to move about freely. But transportation is extremely inconvenient in northern Thailand. I said to myself that if I stayed here, I would feel like a bird trapped in a cage."

However, her mind changed after meeting with Chen Chao-hai. Chen said to her, "Although I'm 70 years old, I still want to do something for society. Will you be willing to work with me?" That, coupled with her meeting with Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan, helped clinch her decision to serve at the school.

Chongmansathaporn was once head of the Chinese language department at a famous university in Bangkok. Although she was at the top of her profession, she decided to give it all up and go teach in northern Thailand. There was a smile on her face but a firm look in her eyes as she said: "There was an abundance of teachers in Bangkok; I wasn't needed there as badly as I am here. Not many people wanted to teach here, so I felt that I should come here."

"We cherish every teacher who comes," said Chen. The Tzu Chi volunteers in Thailand do their best to care for the teachers. They help teachers organize the two-week orientation camp before each school term begins. When Thai teachers go to Taiwan for the six-month training program, volunteers accompany them and help them overcome the language barrier and adjust to the cultural differences. In addition, in-service training is provided to help teachers grow.

In such a positive, nurturing environment, teachers work hard to educate students. Their hard work has borne fruit. Although the school is still new, its students have won numerous awards at various national academic contests. They especially excel at English recitation and Chinese essay competitions.

Nurturing good students
Li Ru-feng (李茹鳳), 16, graduated from the elementary section of the Tzu Chi school this year. Her family had put her through the school by paying her tuition in installments. Though their financial situation is difficult, Ru-feng's father believes in the necessity of a good Chinese education. "She's Chinese, so her Chinese has to be good," he said.

Ru-feng speaks fluent Chinese and delivered the Chinese valedictory address at the graduation ceremony. Her ambition is to become a Chinese language teacher. In fact, she wants to return to the Tzu Chi school to teach Chinese.

Chonatee Dhakum gave the Thai valedictory address. He is a native Thai with sharply cut features. His two siblings also study at the Tzu Chi school. Warm-hearted and diligent in his studies, he was popular at the school.

Chonatee said that his father had sent him to the school because he wanted him to become a "good man." When asked what his future dream was, he answered, "I want to be a great person." His serious expression and the way he said these words made everyone present laugh.

For three years, the school has been growing steadily. This has only been possible with the effort and support of many people. Every tree on the campus was planted by people who lived in the neighborhood of the school; before the school first opened, they carried their own hoes and shovels to the school and planted the trees. The interlocking paving bricks and the lawns were put in by Tzu Chi volunteers from Bangkok. They also helped arrange all the tables and chairs in the classrooms. The large collection of Chinese books in the school's library was donated by Tzu Chi members in Taiwan.

Thanks to the help of so many people, the school is entering its fourth year with firm, steady steps. "It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a sound education program may take ten times longer to take root," said a Tzu Chi volunteer from Bangkok. "Chiang Mai Tzu Chi School has already had a good beginning. We are really looking forward to nurturing more excellent students in the future."

By Tu Xin-yi
Translated by Lin Sen-shou
Photographs by Lin Yan-huang


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