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A Paradise in North Philadelphia: The Village of Arts and Humanities
"I didn't do it for others; I did it for my own soul...''

*編輯部 文 By Editorial Staff
*摩尼珠 英譯 English translation by Mani Pearl






美國政府每年選十個非營利藝術組織,頒給「站起來(Coming Up Taller)」獎,怡樂園去年得此大獎,非為僥倖。葉女士一介女身,具此勇氣,不愧將門虎女。   


Ms. Lily Yeh, mentioned in the article "Being One with All Is Called Great Compassion" (pages 33-36), is the aunt of Bhikshuni Heng Yin, principal of the girls school at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. She is also the beloved daughter of General Yeh Pei-Kao, a hero in the Sino-Japanese War. Born in Guiyang, Gueizhou, she grew up in Taiwan. After graduating from the English Language and Literature Department of National Taiwan University, she came to the United States in 1963 to attend the University of Pennsylvania's School of Fine Arts. Upon receiving her Master's degree there, she began teaching at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. During that period her paintings and sculptures were regularly exhibited.

Lamenting the fact that art served a tiny population of wealthy and powerful, Lily Yeh often thought about how she could bring art into more people's lives, where it could break through barriers, stimulate ideas, and have a more meaningful function, instead of being a mere embellishment in the lives of a small group of the elite.

In the spring of 1985, she was invited to convert an empty lot in a crime-ridden, impoverished neighborhood in North Philadelphia, where drunks and drug dealers lived, into a sculpture garden. Receiving a $2,500 grant for materials from the Pennsylvania Arts Council the following year, she proceeded to give the 375 square foot lot a new face.

Ms. Yeh resigned from her teaching post in order to devote herself completely to the project. After being ridiculed, she finally succeeded in overcoming racial barriers, cultural differences, and the lack of resources, to win the support of the neighborhood residents.

They helped her transform that blighted area of the city into a gorgeous garden which not only had flowers and vegetables, but fantastic sculptures and resplendent, brightly colored mosaic murals made of broken tiles. The beautiful artwork lifted the residents out of their depression and brought gaiety and laughter into their lives. For the first time, they were proud of their neighborhood.

Ms. Yeh had renounced her own comfort to toil for the happiness of others. Hearing others praise her, she spoke from her heart, "I'm not doing this for others. I'm doing it for my own soul. If I hadn't done what I did, I would have died inside."

We believe that she was not merely being modest when she said that. That's why, in explaining the idea of oneness with all being great compassion during the celebration of Guanyin Bodhisattva's Leaving Home, Heng Gu Shi used Lily Yeh as an example. Heng Gu Shi must have been touched. Thinking that perhaps our readers would also be touched, the editor has introduced Ms. Yeh.

Each year, the United States government gives the Coming Up Taller Award to ten non-profit arts and humanities programs. Last year, it is no coincidence that The Village of Arts and Humanities, founded by Lily Yeh, received this great honor. With her courage and vision, Ms. Yeh is a worthy daughter of a general.

On May 9, 1945, her father, General Yeh Pei-Kao, led the 198th Division of the Chinese Nationalist Army in the front line of an internationally known battle in western Yunnan. Crossing the wild Nu River at Yunnan, they ascended Mount Gaoligong, penetrated the defense lines that Japanese troops had built up for two years, and attacked Tengchong, recapturing Chinese territory that had been occupied by Japanese troops. That was a glorious page in the history of the Sino-Japanese War.

In the Second World War, General Stilwell, chief advisor in the Chinese war zone and commander-in-chief of the American armed forces in the China-Burma-India war zone, conferred an award upon General Yeh, and the United States government also bestowed a decoration upon him. With such a father, it is not at all surprising what Lily Yeh has accomplished!

上人語錄 Venerable Master's Dharma Words
♦ Work hard at developing your own wisdom.


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