Taiwan Brings Blessings to Japanese Students-Life Education through Spiritual Companionship and Care





【Reported by I-ping Hsueh】On invitation of Chiayi County Council, the School of Life and Values of Dharma Drum University participated in the “Taiwan Brings Blessings to Japanese Students” event, a summer holiday activity for school children from the tsunami stricken area in Japan. With “Spiritual Companionship and Care for Life” as its theme, the event served as a life education course for 36 students from the Komoto Middle School in Iwaizumi, Iwate Prefecture.

The course, guided and designed by Prof. Yang Pei and carried out by the Dharma Drum University’s Each-Person-A-Story Theater, took place on the afternoon of July 28 at Chiayi County Council Library. Aiming to provide the students with companionship and care, the course combined interactive games, singing, event descriptions, creative projects, and physical activities that transcended language barriers, which helped the students to explore and release their post-disaster emotions, as well as develop renewed inner strength and self-confidence.

Dharma Drum University's Each-Person-A-Story Theater is a volunteer-based group recruited and trained by the University’s School of Life and Values, whose mission is to care for and help people, as well as carry out life education, mainly by telling stories, listening to stories, and acting out stories, and by organizing and leading various kinds of activities.

The course started off with games involving body movement and singing, in which the students learned to express their feelings and emotions through such body movement and singing. In the following “Happy Singing” session, the instructor taught the students a simple tribal song named “Na-Lu-Wan,” a common greeting for the aborigines meaning “welcome” and “we are a family.” The members of the theater divided the students into groups and led them to sing the song with different emotions, inviting them to say the words they would most like to express regarding this period of time, and then create a team song to share with others, helping them to establish mutual acquaintances and trust in a team setting.

Following the body movement activity was a more quiet course to explore the emotions with “A Happy Present” as the theme, in which the children were asked to pick a picture that they found to be the most joyful and happiest, create a secret present by using various materials available according to their feeling toward the picture, and then leave it as a future gift for themselves five years in the future. Through color painting, folding paper, cutting and pasting, and working with clay, the children got to express their emotions and also present their expectations and wishes in a concrete way, by creating a unique future presents with some words of blessing for themselves. This happy present symbolized the sense of well-being they had started to store for themselves, and that by starting from themselves, they could spread it to other people. Everyone’s present was like a seed for happiness, which, when gathered together, then became a “garden of happiness.”

Toward the end, the theater members and the students had a quiet time to reflect on the course, and wrapped up this journey for life education that transcended national boundaries. The children were each given a Japanese version of “108 Adages of Wisdom” by Master Sheng Yen and an amulet with the Chinese characters for “great compassion” written on it to mark their friendship, to signify that this exchange experience may plant a seed in their minds that will blossom in replenished hopes.