FILIAL PIETY — A REPORT ON THE 2016 CHERISHING YOUTH DAY
AT THE CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
By Pam Qian (Developing Virtue Secondary School, 12th Grade) Compiled by Zheng Li
English Translation by Shramanerika Gwo He, Pam Qian
“Without the teaching of filial piety, there would be no education whatever to speak of. Of the countless lessons offered, this lesson, the teaching of filial piety, alone, embodies the spirit of all others. If you can fully absorb this Confucian concept, you pave the way for learning all other knowledge.” — the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua.
April 15, 2016, Friday, was a sunny and beautiful day. The sky was cloudlessly blue and the sun shone warmly on the school grounds. A cozy April breeze blew gently, caressing the white blossoms growing ubiquitously in CTTB. For us, students of IGDVS, this was an important day, for we rarely have a gathering of over 800 people on campus. That morning, everyone got up very early to make the final touches for the event. We were ready to share our happiness and excitement with our guests. We believe that shared joy is the most wonderful. The air seemed to vibrate with our high spirits and passion, eager to join us in the 800-person strong chorus to sing “Ode to Joy.”
It was the annual Cherishing Youth Day and students from many schools in Mendocino County came. In order to create a wonderful and memorable show, IGDVS students not only arranged for them to participate in many interesting activities, but also prepared wonderful performances in accordance with this year’s theme: Filial Respect. The students also wrote plays about filial piety based on ancient Chinese legends about the four divine animals: the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, the Vermilion Bird, and the Black Turtle. The three main characters bear the names “Xiao (Filial Piety),” “Qian (Humility),” and “Li (Courtesy)” respectively.
At around nine o’clock in the morning, guests from neighboring schools and communities of the county arrived at CTTB. They were ushered by student tour guides into booths. This year, we prepared three kinds of booths: Chinese orchestra, 24 stories about dutiful and filial sons, and calligraphy. For most of the American children who came, it was their first time seeing traditional musical instruments such as the Pi Pa (Chinese Lute) and the Er Hu (two-string Chinese violin); and it was also their first time to hold a Chinese calligraphy brush to write down the Chinese character of “filial piety (Xiao)”.
At ten o’clock, people gathered in the big dining hall. As soon as the children entered the hall, they were immediately attracted by the elaborate decorations–well-drawn stage-backdrop, the attractive costumes of the performers, and the colorful balloons hanging high on the walls. All the children talked excitedly to their friends about what they saw. “Look! The two bamboos on the stage are so tall!” “Yeah, Oh wait … they are real! They are real bamboos, not plastic ones!” “Look at that person! Where did he come from? His clothes are so weird.”Completely mesmerized by the decorations, the children felt as if they were in ancient China, standing on mountain tops and watching trickling water flowing by.
This year’s performances were truly brilliant and splendid. There were the dragon dance, the lion dance, the four-season drumming, the Chinese folk dance, the choir, the Chinese orchestra, the Japanese dance, and, last but not the least, the taiji kungfu fan dance. Each performance was eye-opening for the audience. The performers of the Four-Season drumming wore make-up to act as sea monsters. The Chinese folk dance gave people peace of mind with melodious music. The lions are cute and lovely; they blinked their eyes and wagged their tails. The children instantly fell in love with them. And the thirty-plus taiji kungfu fan dancers moved energetically, gaining a large round of applause. At the end of the show, the organizers gave each kid beautifully wrapped gifts, including a heart pin sewn by IGDVS’s teachers and students.
Although seniors of the girls school chiefly organized the 2016 Cherishing Youth Day, all the teachers and students from the boys and girls schools, as well as the Dharma Masters and laypeople pitched in. Some people helped make props, some gave suggestions on the scripts and acting, and others carried stuff from place to place or cooked delicious food. The school also received help from people outside the temple. For example, Ms. Vicky hand-made amazing animal heads, and a factory in Ukiah donated a quantity of dry ice.
As for the children, this event put them in touch with Chinese culture. As IGDVS students, we felt honored to spread the seeds of “filial piety.” To Mendocino County, this program has not only brought different communities together, but also promoted the understanding and facilitated communication between different ethnic groups. And for us, the seniors of the girls school, it was and will remain an unforgettable experience before graduation; it greatly challenged our organizing skills and led us on the path to be well-rounded people. All the frustrations we felt and all the hardships and difficulties we encountered during the course of organizing this event have been forgotten when we saw the wide smiles on the children’s faces. I am certain that every one of us benefited from what we learned in that unique single day all our lives.