There is no doubt that school is only a fraction of my life. The various activities that I do outside of school are basketball, Buddhist liturgy and meditation, jogging, playing video games, and household chores. Of all the activities in my world, Lion Dancing is one of my most cherished. I have had the opportunity to fully master the Lion Dance as a student living for nine years in a Buddhist monastic community. In the community, the Lion Dance is a significant symbol of Chinese culture and is performed on many occasions. As an art and sport, it proves my skills for which I train. The Lion Dance also keeps me physically fit and mentally prepared; most of all, it makes me proud of my culture and who I am. It has represented the best of who I can be, in addition to filling my high school life with experience and friendship.
The Lion Dance in Chinese culture symbolizes strength, prosperity, longevity, and auspiciousness. In Chinese tradition, lions are viewed as protectors of the people. As I perform the Lion Dance, I believe that I'm a protector too, a protector of people's faith and hope.
The Lion Dance, like most sports and arts, takes time to learn. The lion consists of two parts, the head and the tail. It is operated by two people, one at each end. The head must blink its eyes and move the mouth like a real lion would. The head also needs constantly to be aware of what is happening around him. The tail's foot placement must match the head and flow in exact movements. The tail also has to stay in constant motion. Both jobs are equally difficult because to make the lion realistic, the head and the tail must cooperate and work together. I have been playing the head of the lion for two years, and I find it fun and challenging. The Lion Dance has made me more focused and has also developed my leadership because the head of the lion leads the tail. The head is the brain and the tail follows and listens to the head. The basic training I undergo also teaches me to cooperate and communicate well with my teammates. Both cooperation and communication are important skills to have in life, especially in the future. As the head and the tail of the lion work together, the stunts that the lion performs come from my creativity. All these qualities will help me in the future, whether I'm applying for a job or helping out in the neighborhood.
I have been through two years of intense training to become the lion dancer I am today. I have performed twice a year in front of an audience of several hundred people. Although I am not a professional, I have derived an immense amount of satisfaction and fulfillment during my performances. The Lion Dance is not just a sport or activity that I do as a hobby; it is an expression of my heritage as an American of Chinese extraction, who tries to uphold Buddhist principles in his daily life. These are the things that, in addition to my own outlook, I want to express in my dance.
Instilling Goodness/Developing Virtue Schools Newsletter for March (excerpt)
Parent Volunteers Needed!
Next year we would like to increase enrollment, especially in preschool and elementary school. We will be handing out school brochures at a booth and our students will be performing at the annual Family Expo on April 28-29. We invite you to come and bring your friends or give information to those cannot attend.
Our Appreciation to Volunteers
Ms. Edna Cabral recently retired from a nursing career. Her four grandchildren attend Instilling Goodness Elementary School. Currently she is teaching two high school ESL girls and tutoring a student in reading in the After School Program in the elementary school four days a week. Students benefit from her gentle and encouraging attitude.
Mr. Jingxue Bai and Ms. Mingxia Bai of northeastern China and Mrs. Wanyee Hew Gan of Malaysia taught the Girls School and Primary School students to make vegetarian dumplings (jiaozi) for Chinese New Year. They demonstrated their expertise in making the filling, kneading dough, rolling wrappers, and wrapping the dumplings. After an evening and a morning of hard work, we had 1,800+ dumplings—enough for the whole assembly to share!