向下紮根 ‧ 往上結果

比丘近梵發表於第二屆世界佛教論壇  中國江蘇無錫  2009年3月29日 

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 中小學教育在萬佛聖城三十年的經驗

育良小學、培德中學創辦人宣化上人,中國東北吉林省人。幼年家貧失學,至十五歲始入私塾讀書,由於體會出讀書貴在「專心」之訣竅,在兩年半的時間即學貫四書、五經、古文及十餘本醫書。有感於自己書讀得太晚,貧窮人家甚至沒有受教育之機會,因此自十八歲(1936年)開始,在自家創辦義務學校,免費教導鄰近三十餘位貧苦兒童讀書。這是上人創辦義學之始。

上人有感於世風日下,道德漸趨淪亡,唯有提倡教育,才能振衰起敝,挽救世道人心。因此於 1976年,在舊金山國際譯經學院成立育良小學,顧名思義,就是要培育優良的兒童。學校以「孝」為宗旨,目的是要教育幼童做人的根本道理,尤其在西方國家,提倡孝道是最契機的方法。

一開始,只有八位 4到 8歲的兒童,校長則是上人的美籍在家女弟子易果參(Terri Nicholson),教職員則包含了幾位比丘尼。「創辦學校這個理念既新鮮且令人振奮;我們不但幫助把佛法帶入西方國家,還建立學校,教導孩子們如何做個好人。」在慶祝建校三十週年的書上,易果參如此回憶著。

1978年學校遷入距舊金山北部 110英里,清淨寬廣,佔地 488英畝的萬佛聖城。繼而於 1981年成立培德中學,以「忠孝」為宗旨,除了孝道之外,進一步教育學生忠於國家,對己盡責。學校除了加州政府規定的正式課程外,並以中國「孝、悌、忠、信、禮、義、廉、恥」古八德來教導學生,使他們將來能成為卓越的公民,進而影響整個世界的風氣。瑜珈市的市民知道有育良、培德之後,逐漸地把子女送來就讀,學生人數因而增多。為了讓學生專心課業,1982年開始採男女分校制。

除了正規的學術課程外,佛學課、打坐課、道德課,都是本校最具特色的課程。學校以中文為第二語言;弟子規、論語等儒家思想,是則成為教導學生的主要素材,讓學生在做人處事、待人接物方面有行為之準繩。並每年參與北加州中文學校聯合會所舉辦的學術賽,如演講、作文、翻譯、書法、繪畫等等不同的項目。此外也參加中國文化常識比賽,學生在這些比賽中,除了學習更廣泛的常識外,更能拓展視野,與其他學校學生做學術交流。課外尚有國樂、舞龍、舞獅、書法、太極拳、民族舞蹈等極具中國傳統文化之社團活動。

陳曼億是畢業生嘉凡的母親,她說:「中國文化的薰陶,是我和許多家長送孩子來聖城求學的另一個主要原因。她們有許多是第一次觸摸中國樂器,第一次學習中國舞蹈。看著這些孩子漸漸地在優質的傳統文化洗禮下,越來越有屬於中國女性的典雅氣質,心裏就有說不出的感動。嘉凡最大的收穫之一,是代表學校參加中國文化常識比賽。這個寶貴的經驗讓她常常津津樂道,反覆回味。這個經驗已為她的人生寫下豐富的一頁,也把她的中文和中國文化常識,帶進了另一個讓她無比欣慰的層次和領域。」

自 1992年起,上人以「老吾老以及人之老,幼吾幼以及人之幼」的悲懷,指示學校每年在春季舉辦懷少節,邀請鄰近學校學生約四百人一起同樂;在秋季則舉辦敬老節,邀請社區內的老人到萬佛聖城內,由學生表演各項節目,並提供美味可口的素食來招待嘉賓。這兩項活動讓學生們身體力行「敬老懷少」的意義,已受到瑜珈市民眾的肯定與迴響。暑假期間則舉辦青少年夏令營,每年以不同的主題和課程,讓青少年能在佛教道場體驗不同的生活方式,深受歡迎。

教育是最神聖的工作與使命,而老師是教育成敗的關鍵。老師若能以身作則,必能教育出品學兼優的學生。上人以自身創辦義學的經驗,提倡義務教學,因此於 1992年召募義務老師,成員有出家人與在家人,他們有些完全不受薪,有些則支領基本生活津貼而已,他們不會為要求加薪而罷課,成為本校特色之一。現在義務老師分別來自美國、英國、西班牙、中國、台灣、馬來西亞、越南、日本、南美等地,越來越多的老師願獻身於這項神聖的工作。

現任法界佛總會會長的比丘恆實法師說:「要學佛,首先要做個好人,所謂『人道盡,佛道成。』因此修行佛道始於良好的人格,這正是二十一世紀教育當務之急。在學校,我們不要求學生教條口號要應答如流,也不要求他們背誦經典;我們只要求他們尊師重道、報答親恩。這種孝順之德乃為大智大悲之本。我曾在育良小學教三年級,自忖這算得上是我修行中最艱鉅的一項任務。學生無時無刻不在考驗我的耐心,每一堂課莫不迫使我將創意和想像力發揮到極點。」

美國籍的比丘恆順法師,自 1994年即在男校任教,他說:「根據上人的辦學指導願景,我發現要灌輸學生做好人的基本道德,就首先要自己修行。例如,如果我對人不高興或發脾氣時,就難以教導學生之間和睦相處。老師以身作則很重要。」又說:「很早我就發現,面對學生,自己必須保持一個標準:即完全誠實,敞開心胸。如果你要邊帶個假面具,邊隱瞞甚麼的話,他們會很快看穿。在教育學生向善的同時,也培養自己的內在道德──我認為這是個人修行與栽培品德的最好方法了。」

在童年時憧憬著做幼稚園老師的比丘尼恆音法師,當她來到萬佛聖城後,她的夢想一一實現了,現在更肩負著女校校長的重任。她說:「在萬佛聖城,孩子們可以保持他們的純真,並不會因為做一個自己想做的人而受到嘲笑。這是一個年輕人學習與同學、家人與大自然和諧相處的地方;是一個年輕人深深以人類幸福與地球安寧為己任的地方。因此,在他們長大成人後會成為改善社會的一股動力。」因為恆音法師致力於教育的誠心,現在她的父母葉祖堯博士夫婦在退休後,也來到萬佛聖城做無私的奉獻。

葉教授夫婦在萬佛聖城,盡己所能,在多方面貢獻他們的經驗與智慧。他們說:「當家庭教育普遍的缺乏時,想要有效的教育出有用之才,學校不得不雙管齊下,品德與學術並重。但要這樣做實在是相當困難,不但教材得大篇幅的修整,要找能做學生榜樣、有愛心、有品德的師資更是不易,絕對不是有幾千學生的公立學校在短時間內辦得到的。育良小學與培德中學就是一所以品德與學術並重的學校。學校的老師都是極富愛心的修行人,絕大多數都是義務老師。」

在馬來西亞高中教數學與物理的顏亞日,已經擔任義務老師十六個年頭,並曾任男校校長,他說:「一九九二年,我妻子帶了四個孩子來萬佛聖城。上人看到孩子們,對著妻子微笑,說孩子們可以念這裏的育良小學。妻子天真地問:『那我丈夫在馬來西亞怎麼辦?』上人回答:『他可以來當義務老師啊!』我們立即幫孩子們註冊上學。隔年,我來學校擔任義務老師。」現在顏老師的子女已紛紛從大學畢業,或取得碩士學位,或已成為合格教師,小女兒今年即將從培德女校畢業,並已得到太平洋大學之獎學金。「這是我從未想像會成真的美夢!」義務老師制度澈底改變了顏老師的人生和家人。

西班牙籍的葛西亞老師,在五年前,帶著妻子和兩個未滿六歲的兒子來到萬佛聖城。他說:「大約十六年前,我來到美國。很快就意識到這裏的教育系統,並不比西班牙的優越。我常常讀到關於毒品、打群架、少年懷孕,及校園中設置金屬檢測器等。並且問題不只在於學生,教師們走出教室要求提高薪水,而學生則被丟在一邊沒有課上。」「當好像看不到希望時,我卻發現了宣公上人辦學校的遠見。他完全看清了現今教育系統的問題所在,並提出了他的解決方法。這裏沒有什麼火箭科學,只是純粹的直覺性智慧。」這是年輕的葛西亞,以及他出生於中國新疆的妻子張敏博士到萬佛聖城的動機。

根據創辦學校的理念,以及絕大部份義務老師熱心的投入,培德中學期許每位畢業生都能夠達到四種教育目標:

1. 具有良好的品德,和諧的處世態度,以及領導溝通的能力;
2. 透過打坐及其他靈性的教導與學習,啟發內在本具的智慧;
3. 在學術方面發展各人的潛能和人文、科學、藝術方面的才華;
4. 具有全球性的宏觀胸襟,去欣賞和尊重不同的文化和宗教。

良好的教育環境,以及明確的教育目標,吸引了有心的家長們把子女送到萬佛聖城來接受教育。一位家長陳果崙說:「美國友人問我,怎麼捨得讓兩個女兒去那麼遠的地方讀書?我說:『萬佛聖城有清淨幽美的環境,注重道德教育,又有佛法、中文、打坐課程,這種完美的教育是別處找不到的。為了她們好,有些東西是須割捨的。我們的小孩即使現在和我們在一起,上大學時不也多半要離開我們嗎?她們不過是提早幾年離開罷了。』」

1991年朱建和居士放棄了外交官的工作,偕妻子帶著年僅兩歲多的女兒,開了九天的車,從華府橫越美國來到萬佛聖城當義工,主要是讓女兒接受良好的教育。他說:「每一位育良小學和培德中學學生都是最幸運的天之驕子,因為他們能夠在最清淨、最重視品德的環境之中,培養完整的人格並接受優良的學術教育。」現在女兒已經就讀東岸之大學,他回憶說:「回顧這十幾年來,果凡在育良小學和培德中學的求學生涯,她不僅學到尊師重道、戒殺護生、與人分享等為人處事的觀念與良好習慣,也度過了沒有毒品暴力種種染污的青少年時期。我們經常聽到人家說,果凡小時候總是鎖著眉頭,現在可是常帶微笑的開朗女孩了。」

2007年畢業的劉親智同學,是父母在 1994年把他從馬來西亞帶到萬佛聖城,從幼稚園到高中,接受一系列的完整教育,父親做義工,母親則在學校幫忙行政工作。他以優良的成績與表現,得到普林斯頓大學四年全額獎學金。去年他在大學裡首度成立佛學社,開始分享他從小到大所學習到的佛法,目前有十餘個同學加入。這是畢業生把自己所得到的體驗,擴大到校外的成果。他的父親劉德福居士說:「宣公上人常說讀書是為了明理,不是為了名利。我們希望孩子們真真實實地朝這個方向走。我已經虛度了大半輩子的功夫,不希望孩子們再步著我的後塵,走那麼多的冤枉路。想到這裏,不禁為自己在 1994年所做的抉擇而慶幸。」

2007年也是培德中學意義重大的一年,學校通過了美國西部院校協會(WASC)的嚴格評鑑,成為全美第一所佛教立案的合格高中,畢業生的成績將被全美各大學院校所接受,並可簽發國際學生簽證。學生在此薰陶和訓練之後,畢業生已有多人進入加州大學柏克萊等各分校、史丹福大學、哥倫比亞大學、普林斯頓大學、麻省理工學院等名校就讀。有些學生於完成學業後,即回到母校加入義務教師的行列。

事實上,育良小學和培德中學是超級迷你學校,從幼稚園到高中大約只有一百七十人,但是投入教學的老師卻超過四十位,大家齊心協力為教育而努力。這種特殊的教育環境,不但讓學生受到佛法的薰陶,也學習了中國儒家的思想,並且不和現代學術脫節,蘊育出更健康的下一代。這種教育,表面上似乎是教育了學生,事實上還教育了老師和家長,也會教育更多有緣的人。

學生的來源已逐漸擴大到美國各州及加拿大,以及亞洲的中國大陸、台灣、香港、新加坡、馬來西亞、泰國、菲律賓,還有歐洲的西班牙、法國、荷蘭、比利時、盧森堡等國家。這些分佈在世界各地的學生,將會把所學帶回他們的國家。誠如義務老師陳威宏所說:「我們的學校雖然規模不大,人數不多。但是每一位學生就好比一顆種子,只要盡心盡力地培植他們,將來每一顆種子都會變成一棵大樹;當這些大樹開花結果時,也將是百千萬億新種子誕生之時。」

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The Bearing of Fruits and Deepening of Roots
— 30 Years’ School Experience at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas —

By Shr Jin Fan on March 29, 2012 at Wu Xi of China

The Second World Buddhist Forum

Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, the founder of Instilling Goodness Elementary and Developing Virtue Secondary Schools, was born in Jilin Province, Northeastern China. As a young child, he did not have an opportunity to attend school due to his family’s financial hardships. It was not until the age of fifteen that he enrolled in a private school. After gaining a deep insight that the secret to success in study lies with ‘concentration,’ he applied in his own study and thus was able to, within two and a half years, master the Four Books and Five Classics, classical Chinese literature, and a dozen Chinese medical texts. At the age of eighteen (1936), he started a school in his own home and offered free education to thirty some disadvantaged children in his village. This is the beginning of Master Hua’s establishing free schools.

In 1962, the Master came to the United States, empty-handed, to propagate Buddha-dharma. At its beginning stage, he took up residence in a tiny windowless basement, waiting for the right time to teach—thus he called himself “a Monk in the Grave.” In 1968, at the request of some teachers and students from Washington University in Seattle, he set up a summer Shurangama lecture series program for them. When the 96-day study-and-practice session was concluded, five American youths who were moved requested to leave the home life under the Master. Thereafter they went to Taiwan to receive the Full Ordination. This marked the birth of a Buddhist monastic order in America by the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. Influenced by the Master’s lofty virtuous character, more and more people came to follow and study under him, thus the Sangha Order grew steadily, and the Branch Monasteries sprang up one after another.

In view of the society’s ethical standard drastic and continuous declining, and people’s putting more and more morality behind their back, Venerable Master Hua felt that reforming and promoting education was the only way to shake up the trouble-laden old system and rejuvenate the tradition and moral values that were being forgotten, and to rescue people who are drowning in this worsening world. Therefore, he set up Instilling Goodness Elementary School in San Francisco, the very name of which indicating its purpose was to nurture and develop upright and excellent children. The school took ‘filial respect’ as its founding principle, aiming to educate and instill in children the fundamental moral principle of being a good person. This is the most appropriate method to promote the value of filial respect in the West.

At first, there were only eight students with their age ranging from 4 – 8. Its principal was Venerable Master’s lay disciple, Upasika Gwo Shen (Terri Nicholson), and its staff included a few Bhihkshunis. “Establishing school is a fresh and exciting idea, because we not only helped bring the Buddhadharma into the West, but have also establish a school to educate children how to be good people.” This is what Terri Nicholson wrote in reminiscence in the book commemorating the School’s 30th anniversary.

In 1978, the School was relocated to the current peaceful and spacious grounds of City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, which are 110 some miles north of San Francisco and about 488 acres in total. Following that, Developing Virtue Secondary School was also founded in 1981 with ‘filial respect and service’ as its founding principle. In addition to filial respect, it also educate students to be loyal to their country, doing their best to fulfill responsibility and to contribute to the nation. In addition to the subjects required by the California state government, the Schools emphasizes the eight virtues in China tradition—filial respect, fraternity, service to one’s nation, trustworthiness, propriety, integrity, and citizenship. By educating students in this manner, the Schools wishes to develop the students into excellent and outstanding citizens for the future, and then further influence the way of the world. More and more Ukiah residents learned of Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School and sent their children to CTTB to study. It resulted in the student population increase. In order to enable students to stay focused on their study, the Schools started to split the boys and girls from the co-education system in 1982.

The most distinguishable feature about the Schools is that, in addition to the regular academic courses, the curriculum also included courses in Buddhist studies, meditation, and ethics study. Students take Chinese as their second language. Standard for Being A Student (Dizi Gui) and Confucius Analects (Lun Yu) become the key texts in educating the students. These texts provide guidance and criteria for students how to deal with varying situations and how to advance or retreat when handling interpersonal relations. Students also participate every year in the Chinese contests, which were organized by the Association of Northern California Chinese Schools (ANCCS), such as speech, essay, translation, Chinese calligraphy, and Chinese painting. Sometimes students also joined in the Chinese Cultural Knowledge Contest. In all these contests, they not only learned knowledge, but also broadened their scope of vision, and had the chances to do some exchange programs with other students and other schools. Other extracurricular activities also include Chinese orchestra, dragon dance, lion dance, and Chinese calligraphy, Taiji [shadow boxing], Chinese folk dance, and other Chinese traditional cultural activities.

Chen, Yiman is mother of Jiafan (Yvonne), one of our Schools alumni. She said, “Chinese culture and influence here 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 children being gradually exposed to and influenced by the quality traditional culture and value and seeing each possesses more and more the refined temperament of a traditional Chinese female, I was touched beyond word.” One of Yvonne’s biggest achievements was to represent Developing Virtue Secondary School to participate in the Chinese Culture and Knowledge Competition. The valuable experience has become a frequent subject in here conversations that she cherishes and keeps reminiscing them over and over with relish. The experience has written down a rich page for her life and brought her Chinese language and the knowledge Chinese culture to another incomparably gratifying level and domain.

Starting in 1992, the Venerable Master promoted the compassionate ideal of “respecting your own as well as others’ elders and caring for your own as well as others’ children,” and instructed that the schools celebrating Cherishing Youth Day each spring, inviting hundreds of local school children to participate. He also instructed that the Schools commemorate Honoring Elders Day each fall, inviting local senior citizens to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to be our guests. At these celebrations, students perform for the guests and the kitchen serves them a delicious vegetarian meal. Through taking part in these two activities, students learned to apply into their lives and actually practice the teaching of “honoring elders and cherishing the youth.” These activities were well received, viewed in positive light by the Ukiah populace who echoed our theme affirmatively. Every summer the Schools organized a summer camp with a different theme and program, inviting youth to experience a different kind of lifestyle in the monastery, which they find very rewarding.

Education is the most sacred job and mission, and the key to its success lies with teachers. If teachers can set a good example with their own conduct, then students they teach will be developing into excellent ones excelling both in character and in academics. With his own prior experience of establishing free school for the poor, the Master promoted volunteer education. In 1992, he started to recruit volunteer teachers, and those who responded and came included both monastic and lay people. Some of them did on a totally salary-free basis, while some others received some monthly stipends. These teachers would not go on strike for requesting a pay raise and the volunteer education has become one of our Schools’ defining features. At the present the teachers are from all over the world—America, Spain, Mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, and South America. More and more teachers are coming to contribute or devote their time and life to this sacred cause.

The current president of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, Bhikshu Heng Sure, said, “To learn from the Buddha, you have to first start with becoming a good person. As it is said well in the ‘when you can become a good person to perfection, Buddhahood accomplishes itself.’ Hence, cultivating the Buddha Way starts with cultivating a wholesome character. This is what is needed most and needed most urgently in the 21st century education. In school, we can not rigidly require students to spout catechism or to parrot Buddhist phrases.We do ask them to respect teacheres and their teachings, and to repay the kindness of their parents. The virtue of being filial and compliant is the very foundation of great wisodm and great compassion. I taught the third grade at Instilling Goodness Elementary School, and I consider it the most difficult cultivation I’ve done. The students tested my patience at every hand and pushed the limits of my creative imagination with every class.”

American Bhikshu, Dharma Master Heng Shun, started his teaching at the Boys’ Schools from 1994. He said, “Based on the Master’s guiding vision of what the school’s purpose is, I have found that in order to inculcate the basics virtues of being a good human being, one must first cultivate one’s own self. For example, it is difficult to teach the students to be kind and harmonious with other students, if I myself get upset or angry with others. It is so important for the teacher to be a good model to the students. I learned early on that one must maintain a standard of total honesty and openness to the students. They quickly see through any façade that one may wish to hide behind. I cannot think of a better way to develop one’s own spiritual practice and virtue, and at the same time help others – the students –to as the Master said ‘go towards the good.’”

Since her very childhood, Bhikshuni Heng Yin had been dreaming about being a kindergarten teacher when she grew up. After she came to the CTTB, all her dreams were realized one after another.

She assumes the important responsibility of being the Girls’ Schools’ principal. She said, “CTTB is a place where children can keep their innocence and be themselves without fear of ridicule, a place where young people can learn to live in harmony with each other, with their family, and with Nature. It is a place where they assume a deep sense of responsibility for the well-being of humanity and the planet, so that when they grow up they will act as catalyst for positive social change.” Inspired by Heng Yin Shi’s in sincere resolve to devote herself to education, now her parents, both Prof. Yeh and Mrs. Yeh after retiring, also came to the CTTB to contribute themselves selflessly to the cause of education.

At CTTB, Prof. Yeh and Mrs. Yeh, according to their strength, contributed their experience and wisdom in many ways. They said, “When a good family education is lacking and cannot serve as foundation for school education, the responsibility for educating today’s youth falls entirely to the schools. That means that schools must focus both on building character and teachings academics. Although this dual mission is clearly crucial, many schools will find such a transition difficult. Not only will most schools need to significantly modify their curriculum, but it is critical that the schools staff both administrative and teaching positions with people who can serve as virtuous models for the students they teach. Staff members will need to weigh equally the importance of helping students find their life path and teaching the knowledge and skills necessary for adulthood. Such a radical transformation will be very difficult for large public schools with thousands of students to achieve in a short time. Instilling Goodness and Developing Virtue Secondary School are schools that emphasize both the building students’ characters and the teaching of knowledge and skills. First, all teachers are cultivators who love to work with young people. Almost all of them are volunteers.”

This year marked the 16th year of Mr. Gan (Agis Gan) service at the Boys’ Schools as a volunteer teacher from Malaysia, who originally taught Physics and Math there before he came to the CTTB. He had once been the principal for a period of time. He said, “In 1992, my wife brought our four children to the CTTB. When the Venerable Master saw the kids, he smiled at her and said that they could come to study at the Buddhist schools here. Naively, my wife asked, ‘What about my husband in Malaysia?’ He answered, ‘He could come to be a volunteer teacher.’ We enrolled our children in the Schools immediately. The next year, I came to the Schools and became a volunteer teacher.” Now all of Mr. Gan’s children graduated one after another from college or university, with their Master degree or having become certified teachers with the teaching credentials in hand. This year, their youngest daughter will also graduate from our Developing Virtue Secondary Girls’ School with a granted scholarship from Pacific University. “I have never imagined that all these dreams can become reality.” The volunteer education system had totally changed the way of life for Mr. Gan as well as for his family.

Mr. Gracia, who is a Spain-nationality, came to the CTTB five years ago together with his wife and two sons, both of them under the age of 6. He said, “I came to the U.S. more than sixteen years ago. Soon I realized that the education system here was not better that in Spain. I kept reading about drugs, gang fights, teen pregnancy, and schools with metal detectors. And the problem was not just the students; teachers walking out of schools demanding better salaries and the students left alone without an education. While things looked hopeless, I came across the Venerable Master’s vision of the Schools. He had seen the problems with the current education system and had laid out his set of solutions. There was no rocket science her, just pure intuitive wisdom.” Mr. Gracia is still at the prime of his life and his wife, Dr. Zhang Min, was born in Xinjiang province, China. His saying at a great extent highlighted their motives of coming to the CTTB.

According to the Schools’ mission statement, and by the virtue of all of the Schools’ teachers’ enthusiastic hardworking, every student graduating from Developing Virtue can be expected to achieve the following goals of education:

  1. Manifests the core virtues, interacts harmoniously with others, and has developed the skills of leadership and communication.
  2. Has gained a deep appreciation of their own inherent spiritual wisdom through meditation and other spiritual practices and teachings.
  3. Has explored and developed their individual academic potential and talents in the humanities, sciences or arts.
  4. Expresses a multinational, global awareness and understanding; and shows an appreciation and respect for a variety of cultures and religions.

A good educational environment plus the clear goal of education has attracted parents who are concerned about their children’s future to send their children to the CTTB to receive the education. One of the parents, Mr. Chen Guo Run, said, “My American friends asked me why I wanted to send my two daughters to a school so far away. I replied, ‘The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has a pure and beautiful environment, and the school emphasizes developing virtue and instilling goodness. Plus, the students also study Buddhism, Chinese and Meditation there. This wonderful kind of education in not something you can find anywhere else in the world. For their sake, some things need to be sacrificed. An old Chinese saying goes: ‘A banquet won’t last forever.’ Although we are together with our children now, when they go to college, don’t we have to part with them then? Our daughters just left us a few years earlier, that is all.”

In 1991, Upasaka John Chu gave up his diplomatic career and came to the CTTB together with his wife and his daughter who was a little over 2 years old. Driving transcontinental for 9 days on the Highways, he came all the way from Washington D.C. to the CTTB to be a volunteer worker. His main purpose of so doing is to provide for his daughter with a wholesome education opportunity. He said, “All of our students from Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School are most fortunate to receive an excellent education that fosters their whole person with a pure, pristine environment that emphasizes the development of virtuous character.

Now his daughter, Nancy, is still at a university on the East Coast. He recollected: “In retrospect, during the 17 years of Nancy’s education at Instilling Goodness and Developing Virtue Schools, not only did she learn good habits of being respectful to teachers, refraining from killing, protecting life and sharing her views and interacting with others in appropriate ways, but she also passed through her teenage years untroubled by violence and other negative influences, drugs and other negative influences. I have often heard other people say that when Nancy was younger, she always used to frown. However, now she has turned into a cheerful girl who always has a smile on her face.”

A graduate of the class of 2007, Qin Zhi Lau, was brought all the way from Malaysia by his parents in 1994. He has been a student since Kindergarten through high school, and has received a solid education. His parents serve as volunteers, and his mother in fact helps the school with administrative work. As a result of his scholastic aptitude and fine character, he received a full scholarship to attend Princeton University. Last year, he created the first Buddhist Society to share with his peers what he has learned throughout his younger years; there were more than 10 people who joined. This is the fruit of a graduate from Developing Virtue who strives to share his life experience with others. As his father, Mr. Lau, once quoted the Venerable Master, “The purpose of an education is to understand – not to get wealthy or famous.” He continued to say, “We hope that our children will walk this path. I have already wasted half my entire life, and I hope my children will not walk in my footsteps and make the same mistakes I did. I feel very happy that I made the right choice in 1994.”

2007 was also an eventful and significant year for Developing Virtue Secondary School. After passing a tough evaluation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Developing Virtue Secondary became the first fully accredited Buddhist High School in the United States. From then on, the grades of the graduates will be valid and acceptable to colleges, and visas could be issued by the Schools to international students. After undergoing a transformative influence at the school, many Developing Virtue graduates have been accepted to the various University of California campuses, Stanford University, Columbia University, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other outstanding universities. Some alumni, after graduating from college, have returned to their alma mater to join the ranks of volunteer teachers.

Really, Instilling Goodness and Developing Virtue schools are super mini-schools in terms of size— there are about 170 students total in K-12, but amazingly over 40 faculty members. United under the same spirit, the teachers combine their hard efforts to educate the students. Such an extraordinary environment not only gives students a taste of Buddhism, but also teaches – in addition to the regular curriculum – the Confucian ideals. An education such as this, besides ensuring that students are not disconnected from the modern academic world, nurtures a healthier generation. This seems to be an education just for the students, but in truth is a learning experience for the parents, the faculty, and all other people who have affinities with this place.

The diversity of the student body is increasing to cover all over the U.S, and Canada, as well as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. There are also students who come from European countries: Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and so on. The students from different places who come here to study will one day return to their native land with what they have learned. As one of the volunteer teacher, Mr. Chen Wei-Hong, once well put it, “Our school is neither large nor populous. However, every student is like a seed. All it takes is true dedication in raising them, and in the future, each and every seed will become a great tree. And when this tree flowers and bears fruit, it will give birth to millions of new seeds."