Time passes quickly, and it’s hard to believe that I have already attended Instilling Goodness Elementary and Developing Virtue Secondary School for twelve years. I was only a clueless kindergartener when I first came to the United States, but I am now a sixteen-year-old graduating senior. In fact, I’ve been here so long that I never really thought much of the school’s uniqueness. Sure, Developing Virtue School (DVS) is the only Buddhist high school in the country, and we also have to take meditation and Buddhist studies classes and go to ceremonies, but I thought that was about it.
I soon realized our school was different, and in many ways as well. Where else can one find a school that allows sixth graders to take Algebra, and seventh graders to take the SAT? It’s amazing what students can do when they aren’t limited by a static curriculum. This kind of freedom can’t be found in public schools!
Here at DVS, not only do we study academic subjects such as math, history, English and Chinese, but we also learn to improve ourselves mentally and physically. After all, there’s more to education than locking oneself up in a classroom and sticking your nose in a book. That’s why we do community service in the school every week – sweeping the floor, mopping the tiles, dusting off cobwebs, vacuuming carpets, and cleaning rest rooms.
Having “Developing Virtue” in the name of the school truly inspires and behooves students to be better people – otherwise, how can we be considered students who are “developing virtue”? Everyone has high expectations for DVS students, and we can’t let them down. I once accompanied fellow students to the National Chinese Culture Competition in San Francisco, and the Chinese teachers from the other schools exclaimed: “You Developing Virtue students are the most well-behaved!”
Since 2003, I have been very fortunate to be able to involve in translating the Venerable Master’s commentary on the Dharma Flower Sutra at the lecture time in the Buddha Hall. Through this, I was able to learn many principles and teachings of the Buddhadharma, and fortify my translation abilities at the same time. It’s an amazing honor to help translate the sutras and I therefore wrote about it in an essay when I applied to college. There shouldn’t be too many essays on that same topic! Without the kindness of my teachers, I would never have such a wonderful opportunity to help translate.
In October of 2006, I traveled to the East Coast to visit Williams College. Incredibly, I bumped into Williams’ director of admissions while getting some bagels for breakfast. He was very interested when I told him that I came from a small Buddhist high school, and began asking me many questions. “Where is your school located? How many students attend?” I think that many colleges will be interested in students from DVS, because our school is very unique and special.
While I was doing volunteer work in the Ukiah public library recently, I met a member of the Ukiah City Council who is the current mayor of Ukiah. “Congratulations!” she said upon hearing that I had been accepted to Princeton University. “You must go to the Buddhist school!” Apparently, our school’s reputation is quite good!
My time at DVS has been an unforgettable twelve years – I hope other students will have a similar experience!