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Sunday, 02 November 2014 00:00

Da Ai Kindergarten Graduation-cum-Thanksgiving Ceremony

Written by  Teh Aun Ni, Wee Suan Yean & Siow Lee Kien, KL & Selangor / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

Children from the six-year-old graduating class performed “Putting Vows into Action” and all audience members were attracted by their performance of determined little Bodhisattvas in spreading the Dharma. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

On November 2, 2014, Da Ai kindergarten (Pandan Indah) held its 7th Graduation-cum-Thanksgiving Ceremony. The Thanksgiving Ceremony aims to teach these children to express their gratitude for all the hard work by their parents and teachers, so that they can put the spirit of great love into practice in the future.


“Pay the greatest tribute!”
“Please kneel!”
“Thank mum and dad for raising me, taking care of me and allowing me to study at Da Ai kindergarten. Thank you very much.”
 
On November 2, 2014, 29 students from the six-year-old classes followed each and every step announced by the Master of Ceremony and knelt before their parents to whom they handed over their graduation certificate. Da Ai kindergarten also arranged a Thanksgiving Ceremony to enable the students to express their gratitude for all the hard work provided by their parents and teachers, so that they can put the spirit of great love into practice in the future.
 
Nurturing humanistic values
 
As the music started playing, 46 students, aging between four and five, appeared under dim lighting, each holding a small lotus light with both their hands as they slowly walked into the Gratitude Hall. Once on stage, they gently moved the lights, which were like twinkling stars in the sky, and as pure as their heart.
 
Graduation means that their preschool education had come to an end, and they are about to enter a new milestone of learning. By switching the tassel to the left means that the rice has ripened, and this signifies that these children have grown.
 
Wearing dark blue graduation gown and cap, the graduands steadfastly went on stage one by one to have their tassels switched to the left by Principal Chiah Guat Hoo, who also awarded a graduation certificate to each of them. At the same time, a slideshow showing the transformation of these students was screened. For three years, or 1,095 days of nurturing in preschool education, these children have indeed grown up!
 
Parent Qiu Chan Juan shared with the audience her daughter’s transformation after attending Da Ai kindergarten. Hugging her daughter, Zhang Qin En, she said, “Qin En has transformed from a little bully to become well-behaved.” Qin En lost her father when she was eight months old, and was cared for by her maternal grandparents, who spoiled her.
 
“I wish for my father to return to my side,” Qin En made a wish to the sky, but her wish was shattered when her mother said, “Those who have passed away will never return.” Although young, she could quickly adapt her mindset to respond by saying, “I only hope that my father is happy and healthy in heaven!”
 
“I learnt to change my mindset from my daughter,” said Qin En’s mother, who is thankful that Qin En has transformed from a spoilt child to a caring one, who can communicate with others, and is willing to share and be responsible.
 
Lin Zi Bin and his parent shared how Zi Bin became a vegetarian and has also encouraged his grandparents from a fishing village to adopt a vegetarian diet. Zi Bin also cares for Mother Earth and practises environmental protection in his daily life. He turns off lights when not in use, stops using styrofoam, carries a handkerchief with him, and picks up recyclables anywhere in the park. Over the past three years, he has learnt not to be wasteful and has been using items handed down from his sister. He also cherishes what he has.
 
Repay debts of gratitude and allow love to flow on
 
After three years of companionship, teachers felt sad to see their students leaving Da Ai kindergarten, and were also worried about their ability to adapt to life in elementary school. They wished for their students to grow up happily and righteously, just like the lyrics of the song, “Planting Tree” – Oh little tree, I hope for you to become an upright big tree... – that they performed on stage.
 
Parental love is like a tree that guards over the children as they grow up, hoping that they would be happy. Li Jing Xuan, Huang Zu En, Deng Qi Xiang and Wu Zong Xuan then presented a drama entitled, “Tree of Loving Heart”, which was aimed at encouraging the audience members to be thankful to their parents.
 
Students of all ages at Da Ai kindergarten also presented a vivid and lively sign language performance to convey the message: “We must be thankful, have gratitude and repay the debts of gratitude to our parents.” This had deeply moved their parents.
 
Holding basins of water, the children followed their teachers as they walked step-by-step into the Gratitude Hall towards their parents. Tears soon filled the eyes of the parents as the children knelt down and followed each and every step announced by the Master of Ceremony.
 
Six-year-old Liu Ying Xuan looked very tired holding on to a basin of water as he stood in front of his father. As instructed by the Master of Ceremony, he slowly knelt down, gently placed his father’s feet into the basin, and carefully bathed them.
 
Watching his son, the father said, “He is sick today. He had fever this morning and had not eaten since he vomited earlier. But, he insisted on coming here…” After bathing his father’s feet, Ying Xuan proceeded to bathe his mother’s. The latter asked softly, “Now you have to wash mum’s feet?” Although the child looked tired, he insisted on serving his mother. 
 
Ying Xuan is the second child in the family, and his sister had also graduated from Da Ai kindergarten. On this day, she was assigned as a volunteer for the Thanksgiving Ceremony. “We live in Bukit Jalil, and every day we have to go through traffic jams to send him to school. But, seeing his progress today, it was all worth it,” his father said confidently. The child has become more sensible, responsible and appreciative of his mother’s hard work.
 
The ark of Dharma sets sail to spread the seeds of kindness
 
“Be unshaken, for innumerable aeons… Be unshaken, for innumerable aeons… Be unshaken, for innumerable aeons!”
 
Children from the six-year-old graduating class formed an ark of Dharma as they made a grand entrance on stage following the rhythm of the song, “Putting Vow into Action”. Everyone was silent as they focused on the little Bodhisattvas on stage.
 
During the three years of preschool education, these children were also taught the way of life besides academic knowledge. It is hoped that when they start primary education next year, they could adhere to these virtues and share with their fellow students, thereby slowly spreading love and kindness in their new campus, along with all the hardships they might face.
 
Through the process of practising for the performance, and as leader of the ark, Huang Jun Yan has learnt about the spirit of Venerable Master Jian Zhen, who was dedicated and committed to overcoming all obstacles in order to spread the Dharma to the East. Venerable Master Jian Zhen remained unruffled even in the face of large waves. Jun Yan has learnt about the perseverance in spreading the seeds of goodness in his primary school.
 
Reciprocate in gratitude
 
“Watching them reminded me of my graduation time. I cried because I did not want to be parted from my friends and teachers. My mother told me that I also cried for half a year when I started attending Year 1. Now, I will be graduating from primary school soon. Time passes by really fast!” Zhu Yan Ni shyly said.
 
Zhu Yan Ni and best friend, Lin Qian Tong, were from the first batch of graduands. On this day, they were little volunteers at the Thanksgiving Ceremony, which brought back sweet memories for them.
 
Upon receiving a call from Principal Chia Guat Hoo, they returned to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall without hesitation. After six years, their teachers had left and there were changes in the kindergarten. Despite these, the “Da Ai kindergarten” has remained the first “campus” that nurtured them and has remained close to their hearts.
 
“Please remember the names of your juniors.”
“Please bring the water to their seats.”
 
A group of “alumni” was rehearsing on delivering water and their positions to enable their juniors to bathe their parents’ feet. Yan Ni, who did not bathe her parents’ feet during her time at the kindergarten said, “I think it is a good gesture to prepare a bucket of water for our parents to bathe their feet after returning home from a long day at work. After that, we could give them a shoulder and back massage.” 
 
Wearing a volunteer’s vest, Lin Fu Ming was seen directing participating parents at the staircase area and saying, “Amitabha! Children please go to the Yoga Classroom, and parents please proceed to the Gratitude Hall.” 
 
Fu Ming and his wife, Xie Pei Feng, brought their two daughters, who were former graduands of Da Ai kindergarten, to volunteer for the event. Fu Ming was very impressed with the enthusiastic reception from the teachers and volunteers when he participated in his daughters’ Graduation-cum-Thanksgiving Ceremony. He said, “Standing here today, we also hope that all parents and families present would feel the same way as we did, a feeling of welcome and warmth.”
 
“Loving Fathers and Mothers” helped graduating students to tie up their hair and prepare water for the foot-bathing, so that this “action of love” could be carried out successfully.
 
“I did not do much, just helping out here,” said Xie Pei Feng, who is thankful for the Da Ai preschool education that her two daughters received. As a result of their solid foundation of basic preschool education, both her daughters received good commendations in both physical and intellectual aspects in their primary school. Her elder daughter has been re-elected as class monitor for four consecutive years, while her younger one has been appointed as a school prefect. The recognition and affirmation they received at school have made their parents feel assured and easy. 
 
 
Before the end of the Thanksgiving Ceremony, six-year-old students led everyone to pray, chanting loudly and piously, hoping to transfer their blessings to the world. To quote a Jing Si Aphorism: “A field planted with vegetables will not grow weeds easily; a heart filled with kindness will not turn evil easily”. It is hoped that these little graduands can maintain their loving and compassionate hearts, and be little Bodhisattvas who are welcome wherever they go, to live out the values of life.
 
 
“Thank you mum and dad for raising me, taking care of me and allowing me to study at Da Ai kindergarten. Thank you very much.” Children knelt before their parents and presented their graduation certificate. [Photograph by Chen Guo Xiong]   Students, aged four and five, presented the “Stars of Heart” performance by gently waving the lights in their hands. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

“Thank you mum and dad for raising me, taking care of me and allowing me to study at Da Ai kindergarten. Thank you very much.” Children knelt before their parents and presented their graduation certificate. [Photograph by Chen Guo Xiong]
 
Students, aged four and five, presented the “Stars of Heart” performance by gently waving the lights in their hands. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Although Liu Ying Xuan was not feeling well that day, he insisted on attending the Graduation-cum-Thanksgiving Ceremony. In the picture, Ying Xuan received his graduation certificate from Principal Chia Guat Hoo. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
  “Qin En has transformed from a little bully to become well-behaved,” said the mother, Qiu Chan Juan while hugging her daughter, Zhang Qin En, as she shared with the audience about her daughter’s transformation after attending Da Ai kindergarten. [Photograph Lim Su Nguan]

Although Liu Ying Xuan was not feeling well that day, he insisted on attending the Graduation-cum-Thanksgiving Ceremony. In the picture, Ying Xuan received his graduation certificate from Principal Chia Guat Hoo. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
“Qin En has transformed from a little bully to become well-behaved,” said the mother, Qiu Chan Juan while hugging her daughter, Zhang Qin En, as she shared with the audience about her daughter’s transformation after attending Da Ai kindergarten. [Photograph Lim Su Nguan]
 
Graduand Lin Zi Bin was inspired by his parents to protect the Mother Earth by observing a vegetarian diet. [Photograph by Chen Guo Xiong]   The children carefully bringing a basin of water each into the Gratitude Hall to bathe their parents’ feet. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

Graduand Lin Zi Bin was inspired by his parents to protect the Mother Earth by observing a vegetarian diet. [Photograph by Chen Guo Xiong]
 
 
The children carefully bringing a basin of water each into the Gratitude Hall to bathe their parents’ feet. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
A story entitled, “Tree of Loving Heart”, was presented by Deng Qi Xiang, Li Jing Xuan and Huang Zu En. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   Huang Jun Yan (front row, 1st left) learnt about the spirit of Venerable Master Jian Zhen, who was dedicated and committed to overcoming all obstacles in order to spread the Dharma to the East. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

A story entitled, “Tree of Loving Heart”, was presented by Deng Qi Xiang, Li Jing Xuan and Huang Zu En. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
Huang Jun Yan (front row, 1st left) learnt about the spirit of Venerable Master Jian Zhen, who was dedicated and committed to overcoming all obstacles in order to spread the Dharma to the East. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Zhu Yan Ni, a graduand from the first batch of students from Da Ai kindergarten, is the little volunteer at the Thanksgiving Ceremony. The event brought back sweet memories for her. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   “I did not do much, just helping out here,” said Xie Pei Feng, who is thankful for the Da Ai preschool education that her two daughters received, as this had laid a solid foundation for them when entering primary school. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]

Zhu Yan Ni, a graduand from the first batch of students from Da Ai kindergarten, is the little volunteer at the Thanksgiving Ceremony. The event brought back sweet memories for her. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
“I did not do much, just helping out here,” said Xie Pei Feng, who is thankful for the Da Ai preschool education that her two daughters received, as this had laid a solid foundation for them when entering primary school. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]