Saturday, Oct 21st

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 21 June 2015 09:46

Nothing too Hard for the Earnest English Group

Written by  Low Hui Cheng, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Chew Li Hsia decided to change her lifestyle so as to form good affinities with others through the sutra adaptation. She would try her best to attend each rehearsal. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

Participants for “Dharma as Water” sutra adaptation have represented all walks of life, including a group of English-speaking volunteers. The sutra verses in the Chinese characters have indeed proven challenging, requiring more time and patience to decipher.


 
Even though the verses for the sutra adaptations were only available in Chinese, it had not deterred a group of English-speaking volunteers from participating in the performances staged at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil on July 4 & 5, 2015. To ensure they do not miss the rare opportunity, they had overcome the language barrier to accomplish the solemn Dharma assembly.
 
Since the initiation for the preparation of the sutra adaptation in September 2014, community volunteers had actively invited donating and public members to partake in the unique event. The English group was not exempted as they felt their English-speaking members should not be left out in learning and preserving the Dharma.
 
Hence, they held monthly sutra study groups to explain the origin of the sutra and invite members to join in. Volunteer Matthew Lim said, “Initially, about 40 people signed up but due to unforeseen circumstances, some withdrew and in the end, there were only 24 people left.”
 
Modification to sign language sheets
 
It was indeed very challenging to the English-speaking participants as the booklets, tracks, sign language sheets, YouTube videos and other materials are all available in Chinese only. To comprehend the sutra is already tough, not to mention recognizing and understanding the Chinese words.
 
In order to encourage the members not to give up due to the language barrier, phonetics were added to the sign language sheets. Even though this did solve the problem of pronunciation, members still found it difficult to grasp the true meaning.
 
Thus, during the sign language practice sessions, the coach will explain each gesture in detail and members would jot it down on the sign language sheets. This had greatly helped the members to learn the gestures by heart. Furthermore, they used the US version of the video to self-learn at home.
 
Cohesion through online chat group
 
“We also made use of technology by establishing an online chat group where members could post their sharing anytime, and we could also send reminders on practice sessions. In addition, any member who needs clarification on the verses or gestures could post their questions,” stated volunteer Ho Wan Chin. The chat group had facilitated the dissemination of the latest updates and it had also brought everyone closer together.
 
Wan Chin added, “It is ok if members could not memorize the verses, as long as they understand the true meaning of repentance.” Besides being responsible for all matters related to the sutra verses, she had also provided further explanations to members after each large-scale sutra study.
 
The sign language segment was coached by volunteer Peggy Lee. She informed, “The English group joined in the “Dharma Accompaniment” team for two songs. We have taught them step-by-step using English as the medium; and they were able to master the gestures within a short time.”
 
When the rehearsals were moved from the community centre to the mock stage at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, the group practice became tougher for the English group as Chinese was the medium of communication. As such, Wan Chin and Chan Yunn Horng had to use translation devices to offer on the spot translations.
 
Participation at the last gasp
 
“Greedy, how do you act when eating? Keep putting the food into mouth, right? So, left one time, right one time,” Wan Chin explained the sign language to new joiner, Guo Wei Yi.
 
Wei Yi, who hailed from Bintulu, was invited by volunteer, Ho Kean Seng, for the English study group in May this year. He then seized the opportunity to partake in the sutra adaptation but time was running out. Although he did practise at home, he was still lost at the rehearsals. Then, with volunteers’ patient coaching, he managed to integrate with the rest. Wan Chin shared, “He is very earnest and quick in learning. He did not look like a beginner at all.”
 
“I still could not understand the verses fully but through performing, I know they are related to our daily habits,” Wei Yi remarked. He recalled feeling peaceful upon hearing the songs and learning the verses for the first time. He declared, “After the practice, I know we are preachers of the Dharma responsible for spreading the teachings to the audience.”
 
Changes to lifestyle so as to partake
 
Besides the language barrier, participating in the performance was also challenging for Chew Li Hsia, who had to make time from her overseas business travels for the sign language practice and group rehearsals. Furthermore, she is living and working far from Jing Si Hall, so the thought of quitting did arise due to the time needed for commuting.
 
“After joining the rest in the large-scale sutra study at Jing Si Hall, she could feel the spiritual refinement and has thus made time for each rehearsal no matter how busy she was,” Peggy informed.
 
“I used to focus only on work previously. Then I decided to change so as to form good affinities with others through the sutra adaptation,” said Li Hsia. Although she spent only one month practising, she was confident she could overcome the language barrier and close the gap with the rest. By participating, she has become more patient and relaxed.
 
To the English group, nothing is too difficult when there is determination!
 
 
Volunteer Chan Yunn Horng (2nd right) translated on the spot for the benefit of the English-speaking participants. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]   The English-speaking volunteers overcame the language barrier to join the rest in learning and preserving the Dharma. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

Volunteer Chan Yunn Horng (2nd right) translated on the spot for the benefit of the English-speaking participants. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]
 
The English-speaking volunteers overcame the language barrier to join the rest in learning and preserving the Dharma. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]
 
Using English as the medium, Peggy Lee has taught the members step-by-step so that they could master the gestures easily. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Ho Wan Chin (right) would provide further explanation to members after each large-scale sutra study or study group. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

Using English as the medium, Peggy Lee has taught the members step-by-step so that they could master the gestures easily. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
Ho Wan Chin (right) would provide further explanation to members after each large-scale sutra study or study group. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]
 
Under volunteers’ patient coaching, Guo Wei Yi slowly got the knack and was able to keep up with the rest. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   For a better understanding of the sign language, phonetics and English descriptions were included on the sign language sheets. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]

Under volunteers’ patient coaching, Guo Wei Yi slowly got the knack and was able to keep up with the rest. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
For a better understanding of the sign language, phonetics and English descriptions were included on the sign language sheets. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]