On Friday, April 15, at 9 o’clock in the morning, it was drizzling steadily; five hundred school children from neighboring schools in Ukiah came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) with a special invitation to attend the annual celebration of Cherishing Youth Day. The students, accompanied by their teachers, came with excitement and curiosity. The students of Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School – boys and girls schools – guided them through many different booths where they took turns playing with specially-designed games or watching short performances. Additionally, the young guests had the opportunity to tour CTTB and to become familiar with the beautiful surroundings of the city.
At 10:50 a.m., all the children gathered in the dining hall. They participated in the Meal Offering Chant then enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal. The meal was follow by elaborate performances including a lion dance, violin recital, Chinese orchestra, taiko drums, Chinese cultural dance, dragon dance, and more. These performances represented all of the extracurricular activities of the students from Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School. The students get to display their skills and perform during the annual celebration of Honoring Elders Day and Cherishing Youth Day. The visitors always anticipate seeing these traditional performances and they never seem to get tired of them. The program ended at 12:30 p.m. The visiting students came with great anticipation and left with tremendous joy.
In addition to Buddhist teachings, CTTB is deeply rooted in Confucian teaching and culture. The students are immersed in these subtle influences, which ultimately are a major element in the students’ education in becoming better people. The students of Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School naturally play a big role in the cultural exchange between East and West. The students work hard in all the performances, and they are also responsible for greeting visitors. They display a welcoming, hospitable and polite demeanor, leading by example; they are living examples of the result of the unique education in CTTB.
Under Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’s guidance, in 1992 CTTB implemented the motto: ‘In spring we cherish youth and in fall we respect elders’ and has been celebrating Honoring Elders Day and Cherishing Youth Day for over twenty years. Through these two meaningful events, CTTB not only promotes the concept of cherishing youth and respecting elders, but also provides a bridge to foster better relationships with the local communities around Ukiah. These activities allow the neighbors to get to know and understand Buddhism and CTTB. In essence, Cherishing Youth Day is a big event for CTTB and equally is a much-anticipated annual event for the local schools in and near Ukiah.