Looking at the last page of calendar, all of a sudden I realized that my daughter Yvonne is about to graduate in five months. It’s scary that four years have gone by so quickly, but there seem to be things that I am not ready to let go of.
I have mixed feelings about my daughter’s graduation. But the sense of appreciation is more than anything. My two daughters Roslyn and Yvonne are fortunate to have affinities to learn humanities and ethics as well as academics at Developing Virtue Secondary School.
When my relatives first learned that I had made up my mind to send my two daughters to study in CTTB, they asked, “How are you able to let go of them?” The experience with my daughters has proven the old saying — “When you are able to let go of things, you will be able to gain them back.” The truth is I let go of my two daughters and in return, I’ve gained back two righteous persons.
The magnetic field of virtue can change a person without the person actually noticing. It beautifies one from the inside and changes one’s charisma. I will never forget the first time Roslyn came home from the dormitory of CTTB and the first thing she said to me was, “Mom, I now realize how much you love me.” These words could melt the heart of every mom. No matter how much hardship I had to endure, it all disappeared at that very moment. Though she completed high school elsewhere, her biggest change started in this campus—CTTB. What she cherishes the most are the relationships she has had with the teachers, classmates, and even the grass and trees there.
Three years ago, Yvonne wore her school uniform for the first time and walked reluctantly towards the flag raising ceremony to join a group of students. As I watched her go from afar, suddenly it just felt like the first day I took her to kindergarten. I prayed for the Bodhisattvas to bless her and give her samadhi. It had not been easy until she returned from school and said, “I like the Three Refuge quite a bit, and I already know how to sing it.” As soon as I heard her saying that, the worries I’d had all day long vanished.
It was the loving and caring of her classmates that made Yvonne decide to stay in CTTB. Actually these innocent schoolgirls seemed to have already promised one another that they would carry on their fate and affinities in this purified campus. They would encourage each other and cooperate as if they were a family and sisters. They would plan all the activities together, study together, and help out in the community. They would all be in harmony and be good advisors for one another. Although the school’s facilities and supplies were very basic and limited, and were considered primitive years ago, it had never affected their desire to learn to learn and their caring for one another. On the contrary, it helped to strengthen their souls and drew them even closer together.
Chinese culture and influence was another key reason for me and many other parents to send our children to CTTB. It is the first time for many students to actually touch Chinese musical instruments and learn Chinese dances. Witnessing these kids being gradually exposed to and influenced by traditional culture and value and seeing each one embody more and more the temperament of a traditional Chinese female, I was so touched deep in my heart that I couldn’t even put that in words.
Yvonne’s biggest achievement was to represent Developing Virtue Secondary School in the Chinese Culture Competition. The valuable experience has become a frequent subject in her conversations: Jin Yu Shr’s training and the process of practicing, the nervousness and excitement of the competition, the teamwork that brought honor, and all the bits and pieces of the participation in the final competition on the East coast. From a girl who was unsure about herself, to a girl who bravely took on challenges and responsibilities, she ended up as one who is full of confidence and proud. The experience has enriched her life and brought her Chinese language and the knowledge of Chinese culture to another level. It also gave her unexpected satisfaction. Therefore, every time we talk about this topic, she would say to me with all her heart, “Thank you, mother! Thanks for bringing me to CTTB and allowing me to grow up and achieve so much!” And I would speak from my heart and sigh, “You seem to be knowing more than me nowadays in a lot of areas.”
There were friends who reminded me gently in the past whether the pure environment in CTTB would have “the flowers in the hothouse” effect on the children. But having witnessed the path that Yvonne took, my initial worry has long since faded. Living in this society, she’s experienced human nature, been through obstacles and challenges. She’s learned if one can be more understanding, one can be forgiving; if one can easily be satisfied, one can be more appreciative. These elements were the good causes that help to shape her character and to motivate her Buddha nature.
Yvonne always says that she has changed a lot within three years. She used to like dressing up and eating meat, and never ate any fruits. But now, she has changed completely. Vegetarian food and fruits have become her main diet. Frugality has become her new motto. She once said to me, “If I had stayed in San Francisco for high school, I probably would have become an entirely different person who bears no resemblance to who I am today, and likely a daughter who would make you worried and disappointed.” Her genuine confession makes me value and appreciate even more the affinities of her attending school at CTTB. These affinities gave my daughter a chance to learn an accurate approach towards the value of life, to be able to distinguish right and wrong, and to be trustworthy and virtuous.
I believe Yvonne and myself, along with other parents and her classmates will always miss and appreciate CTTB. CTTB is just like a family to all of us.
Developing Virtue Secondary School and Instilling Goodness Elementary School are almost 30 years old. We appreciate all the teachers who are dedicated and giving. They are just like farmers who constantly nurture and work diligently in their farms. They give tremendous hopes to this polluted society. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best. May you create lots of great students.
Brief Program Description: Buddhism - Students will gain a firsthand experience of being in a monastery by participating in ceremonies, meditation, and vegetarian meals. Participants will be introduced to Buddhist teachings and values, such as the law of cause and effect, and compassion.
Multicultural Activities – Chinese and other cultures will be introduced through language, arts and crafts, drama and music, food, games and sports.
Environmental Awareness - Participants will reflect on ways in which we can promote sustainable living and wise use of resources on this planet, and nurture compassion for all living things. Activities include nature hikes, recycled art, and community service.
Ages: 5 – 14 (Boarding students must be at least 11) Parents are welcome to apply as volunteer teachers, counselors and helpers.
Fees: Day Student (includes tuition, lunch, T-shirt, $20 registration fee): $200
Boarding Student ($230 tuition, T-shirt, $250 room & board, $20 registration fee):$500
Room and Board for parents with children: $250/adult, $150/child under 11