Stacy Chen, who is from Taiwan, came with her brother to attend the summer program at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas when she was ten years old. At the end of the summer, they asked if they could take refuge with the Venerable Master. Their parents did not really understand what taking refuge was all about, but they consented, thinking that their children could not go wrong in the Venerable Master's Wayplace. After taking refuge, Stacy and her brother enrolled in school at the City. That winter, her parents came to the City and took refuge as well. Stacy graduated from Developing Virtue Girls Secondary School last June, receiving the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence. With her keen interest in science, she chose to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).
Stacy returned to the City for the winter holidays to visit her mother, after her first semester at M.I.T. She speaks of challenging classes, witty and caring professors, and classmates who are intelligent, friendly, and intellectually curious. Although most of her peers are science majors, many of them recognize the limitations of science. Stacy feels there is great potential for Buddhism, because it can provide the answers that college students are looking for but not finding in science.
Reflecting on her own upbringing, she says, "After a semester at M.I.T., I feel very lucky to have grown up at the City. Although I was not a good student or a good Buddhist, I feel the years I spent here have given me a clear sense of right and wrong; they have given me a set of principles to hold onto and a sense of direction. Without my education in the City, I would feel lost and confused in a world as complex as today's society." She adds that, at college, she has been forced to rethink and reaffirm her own beliefs, which are constantly being challenged by her classmates, most of whom are not religious. This has been a painful but necessary process for her. She plans to join the Buddhist club on campus next term when she is more settled in.
Stacy plans to major in math or environmental engineering. Asked about her future plans, she says she would like to teach, and ultimately, to come back and help the schools at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, to which she feels greatly indebted.