September 4, 2019 was the opening day for freshmen’s orientation, and freshmen and their Tzu-Cheng/Yi-Te dads and moms, a total of around 1,000, took part in the opening ceremony. “My hometown is in Naruwan, and your hometown is also Naruwan. We are a family, and we will be in this family forever…” Participants stood hand-in-hand singing this Taiwanese indigenous song to open up the session.
Tzu Chi University’s president Ingrid Y Liu, dean of Student Affairs Kun-Ruey Shieh, director of the Office of Humanities Yi-Chung Liu, academic department chairpersons, and institute directors were also present to welcome the freshmen. President Liu quoted founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teaching, “Treasuring every second and carrying things out practically,” to encourage freshmen to utilize every moment to prepare them while studying at TCU. After completing their studies, they will seek employment or pursue advanced studies, and no matter what they decide to do, they will do it heartily. As a result, they will gain personal achievement and receive public recognition. The reason for TCU to hold this opening session in Jing Si Hall was that it is the spiritual home for Tzu Chi members. Many renowned European universities were founded by religious organizations and TCU was established by Tzu Chi Foundation, which is a Buddhist institution. Many people have their religious beliefs, which are helpful in guiding them as they head into the future.
President Liu shared her personal experiences in college, to inspire freshmen to cherish every interaction with the people around them. Students may view their college lives as climbing high mountains. The professors are their professional guides, and Tzu-Cheng/Yi-Te dads and moms are their companions, who will stand behind them. Their peers will also play crucial roles that, whenever they feel tired or encounter hardships, will be very helpful to them.
Freshmen met with their Tzu-Cheng/Yi-Te dads and moms for the first time. These dads and moms are senior Tzu Chi volunteers who are from all works of life, and in addition to carrying out their daily routines, they serve the needy regularly in their communities. The director of the Office of Humanities encouraged students to value each monthly meeting with these dads and moms and learn from them. Meng-Ping Liu is an Yi-Te mom who will be with nursing sophomores starting from this Fall 2019. She has been an Yi-Te mom since 2007, and accompanied students of Child Development and Family Studies, as well as Medicine and Social Work. She retired from the Division of Women’s and Children’s Protection, New Taipei City Police Department. While working there, she dealt with domestic violence cases every day, and concluded that inappropriate behaviors can’t be improved solely by law enforcement; instead, they can get better as a result of positive thoughts. Good thoughts are very helpful for people to alter their behaviors and this is the reason she chose to be an Yi-Te mom.
Tzu-Cheng/Yi-Te dads and moms and staff of the Office of Humanities presented five kinds of gifts, as reminders, to each freshman: a heart-shaped note book (for having a loving and caring heart), a rubber band (for keeping a flexible mind to get things done), some chocolates (for overcoming frustration and pressure), a book (for maintaining passion for knowledge), and four keys (for gaining happiness from managing physical well-being, financial resources, affection and daily routines). The freshmen were also caped, which signified learning to become mature adults, by taking responsibility for their own actions. They were also reminded to write to their families to describe how they were doing. Many of them hadn’t done this for quite a while, thus they were in tears while they were doing it.
Jeanesta Alafina Rizwold is from the Solomon Islands. She was touched by Tzu Chi volunteers’ altruistic services to needy persons around the world, and she wanted to follow in their steps, so she selected TCU’s Department of Public Health for her studies. Furthermore, she realized that public health has everything to do with human health and environmental sustainability. But her country only has a few public health experts, plus her fellow countrymen have limited knowledge about public health, so she wants to study public health in Taiwan and apply what she has learned to serve her country.
Jhih-Fang Jhao is a freshman in the Department of Child Development and Family Studies and her sister is a senior in the same department. Jhih-Fang had learned from her sister that TCU’s faculty members are very good at inspiring their students; moreover, she loves to be with young children, so she decided to attend TCU. Jhih-Fang already has plans for her coming college life, and will join Tzu Chi Collegiate Association right away, to work with her peers in sponsoring various activities.
Four freshmen received scholarships awarded by Tzu Chi Indonesia, and they chose to study Oriental Languages and Literature and Molecular Biology and Human Genetics. Richard Vincent Thamrin is an Oriental Languages and Literature freshman, and he views having Chinese proficiency as very important for a Chinese Indonesian. He is grateful to Tzu Chi Indonesia for awarding him a scholarship, so he was able to come to Taiwan to learn Chinese, and will go back to Indonesia, once he completes his studies, to serve his countrymen.
TCU invited Faisal Hu of Tzu Chi Turkey to give students a talk entitled “Accompanying the needy in Turkey and as long as we are willing to give, we aren’t alone.” Since the beginning of 2015, Tzu Chi Foundation has worked with two groups in Turkey, namely the Sultangazi District Government and refugee teachers from Syria, to operate El Menahil School. Faisal took part in this project, from the beginning, and he shared how Tzu Chi volunteers faced various hardships, yet through their persistence and perseverance, they helped Syrian refugees to settle down in Turkey, and simultaneously provided educational opportunities for Syrian children living in Turkey. He wished our freshmen would learn to assist the needy around the world during their studies at TCU.