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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 28 November 2014 00:00

Kindergarten Children Graduated with Lifetime Treasures

Written by  Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

Six-year-old graduates from Melaka Da Ai kindergarten received their first certificate in life, as well as, their teachers’ blessing one by one on stage. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Parents never stop worrying about their children, but can children ever appreciate their parents’ hard work? Through this important milestone in life from kindergarten to primary school, both children and their parents can better understand the meaning of filial piety. This will then be rooted in the hearts of children through a memorable graduation ceremony.


 
On November 28, 2014, Da Ai kindergarten in Melaka was filled with a tense, yet lively, atmosphere, where many well-attired families, including families of three generations, had gathered. It was not only the annual kindergarten graduation ceremony, but also the first time that parents, teachers and students of the kindergarten presented the sign language musical performance of the Sutra of Filial Piety, after seven months of practice and rehearsals.
 
Early in the morning, a team of professional hair-stylists and make-up artists were ready to enhance the appearance of the performers. The six-year-old graduates were all excited to put on their graduation gown and receive their first certificate in life, as well as, their teachers’ blessings one by one on stage, marking the start of a series of activities and performances for the day. 
 
Following that, the kindergarten children presented the ikebana and tea ceremonial skills they have learnt, indirectly showcasing Tzu Chi’s humanistic values. They knelt down and respectfully presented a cup of tea and flower to their parents; the warm tea signifying their gratitude to their parents. With a cup of tea and a hug, the atmosphere was imbued with the warmth of joy.
 
Life is like a play without rehearsal and repetition
 
“This whole performance is like a replay of my own past,” said Tan See Peng, father of six-year-old graduate, Tan Jun Hao. See Peng’s father passed away when he was little, leaving his mother to raise him by herself. When he was performing the sign language musical, it brought back memories of his past frivolous and rebellious behaviour when growing up. 
 
He had repented and was also glad that, “After I got married, I experienced how it was to be parents, and slowly changed my attitude towards my mother. Luckily, I still have the opportunity to be filial.” After months of practice, he had deeper realization, and hence he took the opportunity to bring three generations of his family to attend the graduation ceremony. His mother and wife, who watched attentively in the audience, have their own feeling, yet they share a common understanding about the significance of filial piety.
 
Although this was his first musical drama performance on stage, he took the lead in the last “Finale” scene. He felt stressed and had thought of giving up, especially at the end when he needed to shout out, “Mum…” However, as he did not want to disappoint Teacher Koh Siew Tin, who had diligently taught him, as well as, not to further burden other performers, he took up the challenge.
 
He later conceded that, “It is meaningful to promote filial piety through performing the sutra, and to inject warmth into today’s indifferent society, reminding everyone not to wait to be filial.” 
 
See Peng also felt deeply about the graduation ceremony. He said, “Graduation is usually only a symbolic function with singing and dancing performances, but today’s event was an eye-opener as it was not just a happy graduation ceremony, but had also showcased the significance of filial piety.”
 
During the learning process, his son, Jun Hao, downloaded videos of similar performance from the Internet to enable his father to master the music and time, as well as, to have a better portrayal of his role. By so doing, See Peng gradually gained more confidence. He also shared, “Concerned about my progress, Jun Hao would constantly asked me, ‘Do you know how to yell yet? How is your rehearsal?’ and because of this I could not slack off.” He smiled and said that his son would practise in the car, and he would do the same while driving, hoping to firmly grasp the family feeling in that instant.
 
As the actual performance was approaching, he was anxious, yet felt that he could finally unload the burden. However, when he was informed that there would be another performance on November 30, he admitted, “I can feel more stress! This is indeed a big challenge in my life and I hope I will not make any mistakes during my performance.”
 
Every scene touches the hearts of parents
 
“Time flies! It feels like he was just born yesterday, and today he graduated. He was transferred to this kindergarten at five, and within two years, had shown significant improvement in terms of manner and attitude. Today, he is more caring as if he could understand the hard work of his parents,” recalled Jessica Sian, mother of six-year-old graduate, Ng Yu Zhen.
 
She shared that a few months ago, the kindergarten was teaching about the Sutra of Filial Piety, and the children had to make dolls and experience parenthood through caring for a young baby day and night. A few weeks later, Teacher Koh Siew Tin took back the baby dolls from the children to let them experience parents’ feeling of parting with their children when they have grown up and are studying or working away from home. Teachers even prepared a letter for each doll and handed to the children. Yu Zhen was excited and shared with his family that, “My baby is studying in the United States as he has specifically sent me a letter.” Their son’s gestures had touched the family as they could feel that he has learnt to understand the feelings of being parents.
 
The stage performance also brought back memories for Yu Zhen’s father, Ng Si Yuan, who said, “When my son was born, I helped wash an average of 13 diapers daily.” Every scene on stage and every line of the lyrics highlighted how parents disregarded the dirtiness and only focused on taking care of their children. Jessica also echoed, “Breastfeeding was really hard, and the lyrics also mentioned the hardship of breastfeeding. It was indeed a sacrifice that I can relate to.”
 
A few days earlier, when they told their son that his graduation was approaching and that he would soon be entering primary school, Yu Zhen shed tears of sadness. Today, three generations of the family dressed up to participate in the graduation ceremony. Watching his son growing up day by day, a proud and hopeful Ng Si Yuan remarked, “This phase had completed, and I hope that what he learnt at Tzu Chi would help him overcome the challenges ahead.”
 
Adult reflection with kindness deeply rooted in children
 
Lee Hui Ling, mother of six-year-old graduate, Lee Jun Ying, was sitting in the audience enjoying the show on stage that touched her heart. She said, “This performance made me reflect on my attitude towards my parents and my children. My parents practised scolding and caning to discipline a child, so I followed their way. I am still learning about parenting.” As a result of the graduation ceremony, Hui Ling got to know this sutra, and she was convinced that the seeds of goodness have been sown in the heart of the child.
 
As a primary school teacher, she understood the difficulties in disciplining students, let alone four, five and six-year-old children. “Today’s graduation ceremony is indeed very wonderful, as parents, teachers and students managed to pull off such a wonderful performance within such a short period of time,” she happily praised.
 
Jun Ying’s father, Lee Tiam Soon shared, “My heart feels very heavy as both my parents have passed away.” As a university lecturer, he is worried about today’s youth, who focuses on academic achievement but not character development. He often shared this motto with his daughter, Jun Ying, “Your attitude determines your altitude,” and “Winning without pride, and losing with grace”. From months of practising the sign language, he found that his daughter has become more patient, and has also gradually developed her tenacity and confidence. He hoped his daughter would continue applying what she has learnt from Tzu Chi, and take these good qualities into another stage of life.
 
A mature Jun Ying was thankful for her teachers’ teachings, which have taught her a lot and especially that doing good deeds and fulfilling filial piety are things that cannot wait. She shyly said, “My younger brother will be starting kindergarten next year, so I will come back again.” Her mother, Hui Ling joyfully added, “I feel thankful that Tzu Chi has given a wonderful childhood to my girl. Tzu Chi’s focus on moral conduct and life’s skills, has produced students with distinguished attitude.”
 
Grow up and learn about life together
 
Parents of six-year-old graduate, Tan Yi Le, watched the entire sign language musical performance of the Sutra of Filial Piety for the first time. Her mother, Cheaw Geok Lan shared that, “I am impressed that the whole school practised relentlessly over the past few months for a successful performance today.” Her equally happy husband, Tan Seow Koon said, “My daughter has really grown up. She has the courage to deliver a speech on stage on behalf of the graduates. I should learn from her instead.”
 
Geok Lan also added that she learnt about “sharing” from her daughter. Previously, she only shared with others when she had extras, however, her daughter’s behaviour has led her to reconsider the meaning of “sharing”. Slowly, she has come to understand the spirit of giving, which is the core component of the concept of “sharing”. At the graduation ceremony, she took the opportunity to express her gratitude, “My thanks to the kindergarten’s curriculum that gave both parents and children an opportunity to learn about life together.”
 
 
Graduates waved their hands to show their gratitude for the blessings received. There was no grand ceremony, no fancy decoration, no attractive entertainment, but only a warm atmosphere that tightly surrounded the theme of “filial piety”. The sign language musical performance not only inspired everyone to reflect on filial piety, but also led the children to understand the true meaning of filial piety, and then practise it in their life.
 
 
Six-year-old graduate, Tan Jun Hao’s father, Tan See Peng shared that the performance was like a replay of his past experiences. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   After the performance, Tan See Peng gave his mother a hug, thanking her for her tolerance and love. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Six-year-old graduate, Tan Jun Hao’s father, Tan See Peng shared that the performance was like a replay of his past experiences. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
After the performance, Tan See Peng gave his mother a hug, thanking her for her tolerance and love. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Parents, teachers and students of Da Ai kindergarten presented the sign language musical performance of the Sutra of Filial Piety for the first time, after seven months of practice and rehearsals.[Photograph Charlie Kam How Chan]   Graduates arranged flowers and prepared tea as a token of appreciation for their parents. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Parents, teachers and students of Da Ai kindergarten presented the sign language musical performance of the Sutra of Filial Piety for the first time, after seven months of practice and rehearsals.[Photograph Charlie Kam How Chan]
 
 
Graduates arranged flowers and prepared tea as a token of appreciation for their parents. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Six-year-old graduate, Ng Yu Zhen, thanked his parents for raising him. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Parents of Tan Yi Le happily read the greeting card from their daughter. The education at the kindergarten has allowed both parents and children to learn and grow together. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Six-year-old graduate, Ng Yu Zhen, thanked his parents for raising him. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Parents of Tan Yi Le happily read the greeting card from their daughter. The education at the kindergarten has allowed both parents and children to learn and grow together. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Parents of Lee Jun Ying (middle) hoped their daughter would continue applying what she has learnt from Tzu Chi, and take these good qualities into another stage of life. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]    

Parents of Lee Jun Ying (middle) hoped their daughter would continue applying what she has learnt from Tzu Chi, and take these good qualities into another stage of life. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]