朱佳敏 中譯 培德女中十一年級
三月十八日，一個寒冷的星期天晚上，Don和我開車到灰狗巴士站，接十二位遠從佛羅里達州 St. Peterburg Eckerd大學來的學生。他們飛行了十九個小時才抵達聖城。當我們到車站時，看到他們在寒風中哆嗦地等我們。在這之前的一個禮拜，正巧是觀音七，當時 Ukiah 幾乎每天都下雨。
放春假期間，這群十八歲到二十二歲的青少年們，原本可以去Cancun或其他地方參加派對狂歡的。為什麼會選擇來佛教道場做義工呢？Eckerd大學是一所私立大學，大概一千八百位學生，且根據羅馬教皇羅仁 ( Loren Pope ) 在2006年調查，Eckerd大學是在所有大學中，被列為可以改變人生的大學之一，這種大學美國目前有四十所。這所大學每年提供學生二十梯次全球服務計畫，例如，他們會去冰島、墨西哥、澳洲和美國服務那些無家可歸的人，乃至幫他們蓋房子等等。這些旅行是由學生或教職人員策劃的。這次來聖城的計畫源起於兩年前他們在聖城深刻的體驗，於是他們決定再次安排一趟聖城之旅。希望在春假做義工的學生們，可以申請他們心中前五志願的服務地點。今年，Eckerd的策劃人選了不同年級的學生參加這次的服務。主要的成員是大一的新鮮人，因為將來高年級的學生畢業時，就可以把策劃活動的機會交給低年級的學生。
A Report on Eckerd College’s Service Trip
by Kien Po
On a cold Sunday evening, March 18, Brooks, Don and I drove to the local Greyhound Station to pick up 12 EckerdCollege students from St. Petersburg, Florida. They had just traveled 19 hours to get to CTTB. When we arrived, they were shivering in the cold while waiting for us.. The week before, during the Guan Yin Session, it had rained almost every day in Ukiah.
Why would a group of 18 years old to 22 years old come to a Buddhist monastery on their spring break when they can go and party in Cancun or somewhere else? Eckerd College is a private school that has roughly 1800 students and was listed as the top 40 colleges that change lives in 2006 by Loren Pope. The college provides 20 service trips all over the world i.e. Iceland, Mexico, Australia and the U.S. doing jobs such as building houses, serving meals to the homeless etc…The trips are coordinated by students and faculty. In this case, the coordinators were here two years ago and had such a profound experience at CTTB that they decided to arrange another service trip back to the monastery. Students who wish to do a service trip apply to their top 5 service destinations. This year the Eckerd coordinators in charge of the CTTB service trip selected the students from different grade levels. This time, the majority was Freshman. The reason is to give the lower class an opportunity to coordinate the next trip when the upperclassmen graduate from college.
The goal for coming is to serve the CTTB community. The original intent and request was to work on the organic farm which they have done twice before. In 2008, it was the Eckerd college students who helped build the green house and worked with Mr. Fan. In 2010, they also worked on the farm with R2. However, due to the unusual weather, it rained almost every day so the students had to work on the loading dock:. The men moved heavy boxes of sutra texts and Venerable Master’s Dharma talks from Building 1 2 3 to the book warehouse. The women worked on organizing the warehouse to create more spaces for the books. In addition, the women were lucky enough to work on the farm behind the nuns’ quarters when the clouds cleared. On one of those days, Heng Yin Shr brought a group of 4th to 6th graders to work with the girls.
The Eckerd students also participated in the schedule of CTTB: waking up at 3:30a.m. and ending the day at 9:00p.m. They attended all the ceremonies, meditation, work, and evening lectures with the monks, nuns and Doug Powers. By attending all the ceremonies, they learned to appreciate monastic life the immersion of a Buddhist culture. One of the students commented that she love to see all the monks and nuns. Many said that they came to a Buddhist monastery to push them out of their comfort zone and to immerse in another faith others than the one they know.
Before they came, the two coordinators told them not to bring their cell phones or be plugged in and to always be respectful and take the experiences as they are. Toward the end of the week, many of them took turns (two at a time) doing the vow of silence for a day or two. They learned to do this by following the examples of the students who came to CTTB before. At the end of the week, we asked the students what was their most memorable experience, one of them said, “A nun taught me how to use a fork lift. This same student learned about filial piety in the evening class and said that when his parents visit him later in school, he will bow to them.
One of them did something that surprised me. He bowed to Dharma Master Yi when she gave him a copy of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance. I asked him where did he learn to do that and he said that in Eckerd, they have 3 weeks of intensive classes and the class he took was Buddhism. At the end of the 3 weeks class, the professor said that no one will ever do this to you and after saying that, the professor bowed down to all of his students. This made such an impression on this student that he said, this was the only way that he knew how to express his gratitude to the nun whereas for James (the other coordinator) and I, he could thank us with words.
At the end of week, when we were debriefing, the students told James and I that they know there were a lot of people involved in making their stay a successful. They would like to thank each and everyone for their support. They thanked Dharma Master Ran for preparing a special dinner for them on Saturday evening which was the best food they have ever had. They stuffed themselves so much that they weren’t hungry the next morning.