Tzu Chi Q&A

A Glimpse into the Missions and Spirit of Tzu Chi

1. How did Tzu Chi start its mission of education?

In 1989, Tzu Chi Junior College of Nursing opened, marking the beginning of Tzu Chi's mission of education. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

When Tzu Chi Hospital in Hualien opened in 1986, it was very difficult to recruit nurses in eastern Taiwan. Moreover, during those years, indigenous girls from poor families in eastern Taiwan were often sold into involuntary servitude. To solve both problems at the same time, Master Cheng Yen set up a nursing college in 1989, providing free nursing education to indigenous girls so they could train to become nurses.

In the following years, Tzu Chi further set up a university, secondary schools, elementary schools, and kindergartens in Taiwan, completing an education system from preschool to doctorate programs in 2000.

2. What are the core values of Tzu Chi's schools?

The children of Tzu Chi's kindergarten in Tainan, Taiwan are learning how to express gratitude in sign language from their teachers. (Yang De-you)

All schools set up by Tzu Chi strive to instill moral values, virtues, character and propriety in their students so as to help them develop correct views and conduct. At the same time, the school motto shared by all of Tzu Chi's schools―loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity―is mindfully woven into the academic and extracurricular activities for students at all levels of Tzu Chi's schools. Through these efforts, it is hoped that the students will learn to benefit others with a sense of mission and contribute to the greater good of the world in the future.

3. Apart from passing on knowledge and professional skills to students, how else do teachers at Tzu Chi's schools guide their students?

Based on the core values of Tzu Chi's schools, the teachers not only encourage their students to contribute what they've learned to society, but also guide them to abide by common decency, take care of their daily living, and nurture compassion for others.

For example, all Tzu Chi students are taught to have proper table manners, decent attire, and respectful behavior. At school, they are asked to help with serving food, washing dishes, cleaning the campus, and tidying up their classrooms and restrooms. During their field trips, they'll visit hospitals and homes for children or senior citizens as well as take part in other volunteer services, such as street or beach cleanups. When disasters strike, they'll be encouraged to raise funds for those affected, and learning of children in need in other parts of the world, they'll collect and donate stationery and other supplies to them.

 

A Tzu Chi student feeds pudding to a resident of an elderly home in Hualien. (Xu Rong-hui) (Tzu Chi Foundation)(Tzu Chi Foundation) (Tzu Chi Foundation) (Tzu Chi Foundation)

Tzu Chi elementary students and their parents work together to clean up a beach in Hualien, as part of Tzu Chi's Earth Day activities. (Xu Rong-hui)

Children from Tzu Chi's kindergarten in Hualien sell bath muffins to fundraise for Syrian refugee children in Jordan. (Chen Pei-zhu)

3. Apart from passing on knowledge and professional skills to students, how else do teachers at Tzu Chi's schools guide their students?

A Tzu Chi student feeds pudding to a resident of an elderly home in Hualien. (Xu Rong-hui)

Based on the core values of Tzu Chi's schools, the teachers not only encourage their students to contribute what they've learned to society, but also guide them to abide by common decency, take care of their daily living, and nurture compassion for others.

Tzu Chi elementary students and their parents work together to clean up a beach in Hualien, as part of Tzu Chi's Earth Day activities. (Xu Rong-hui)

For example, all Tzu Chi students are taught to have proper table manners, decent attire, and respectful behavior. At school, they are asked to help with serving food, washing dishes, cleaning the campus, and tidying up their classrooms and restrooms. During their field trips, they'll visit hospitals and homes for children or senior citizens as well as take part in other volunteer services, such as street or beach cleanups. When disasters strike, they'll be encouraged to raise funds for those affected, and learning of children in need in other parts of the world, they'll collect and donate stationery and other supplies to them.

Children from Tzu Chi's kindergarten in Hualien sell bath muffins to fundraise for Syrian refugee children in Jordan. (Chen Pei-zhu)

4. What are Tzu Chi moms and dads?

Tzu Chi moms and dads are Tzu Chi volunteers who "adopt" students of Tzu Chi's schools and care for them as if they were their own children. They provide support and guidance to the students, playing the roles of mentor, counselor, and friend.

A Tzu Chi mom braids the hair of a Tzu Chi university student who has just finished a road running event. (Xu Rong-hui)

5. What is the silent mentor program of Tzu Chi University?

Silent mentors are people who donate their bodies to Tzu Chi University's medical college for use in anatomy class or surgical simulation training. These body donors teach medical students and doctors without words. That's why they're referred to as "silent mentors."

Before a surgical simulation training, medical students of Tzu Chi University put their palms together to show their gratitude and respect to body donors. (Xu Rong-hui)

6. How many people have signed up for Tzu Chi's silent mentor program?

As of June 2017, nearly 38,000 people had signed up to donate their bodies to Tzu Chi, while 324 bodies had been used in anatomy class and 448 in surgical simulation training.

7. Why are Tzu Chi University's medical students required to visit the families of body donors before their anatomy classes begin?

Tzu Chi University medical students visit a body donor's family to better understand the donor's life. (Medical Simulation Center, Tzu Chi University)

By visiting the families of body donors, the students are able to learn more about the lives of the body donors and, because of this, feel connected to them as if they truly knew each other. Later, when the students practice on the body donors, they'll be inspired to treat them as real patients with love, respect and gratitude. Years later when they become doctors, it is hoped that they'll care for their patients with the same love, respect and gratitude.

8. Do Tzu Chi's schools have partnerships with other schools outside Taiwan?

Tzu Chi high school students from Tainan, Taiwan interact with the students of a Tamil school in Selangor, Malaysia. (Wen Bao-qin)

Since 2001, Tzu Chi's schools have been establishing partnerships with schools in other parts of the world. In 2016 alone, Tzu Chi University, Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology, and Tzu Chi's senior high schools had either established sister school partnerships or conducted exchange programs with schools in Japan, South Korea, China, Macau, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Finland, and the U.S.

9. Does Tzu Chi have schools in other parts of the world?

As of 2016, Tzu Chi had set up 102 educational institutions in seven countries:

10. What is a Tzu Chi Academy?

The students of Tzu Chi Academy in Chicago, Illinois, USA serve tea to their teachers to show their gratitude. (Chen Zheng-xuan)

A Tzu Chi Academy is a weekend school set up by Tzu Chi offices overseas. These schools teach their students Mandarin and share Chinese culture and wholesome values with them through programs on flower arrangement, tea ceremony, recycling, community service activities, and Master Cheng Yen's aphorisms. As of 2016, there were 69 Tzu Chi Academies in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Malaysia.

11. How many schools has Tzu Chi helped build around the world?

As of 2016, Tzu Chi had built 206 schools in 16 countries and regions around the globe. Most of the schools were rebuilt after they were damaged by natural disasters or simply because they were too dilapidated to use, while others were built for children in impoverished areas.

12. What is Tzu Chi's tuition aid program?

Master Cheng Yen often says that education cannot wait. Upon learning of students in need from school teachers or during their visits to impoverished families and to Tzu Chi's care and aid recipients, Tzu Chi volunteers will provide tuition aid to these students to help them complete schooling. In 2016, 48,420 students in 16 countries and regions around the world had received tuition aid from Tzu Chi.

In some countries, Tzu Chi volunteers also organize after-school tutorial sessions for students in need, pay for their computer classes and other extracurricular activities, or provide breakfast, stationery, books, uniforms, and transportation expenses to them.

 

Tzu Chi volunteers in Hualien, Taiwan, together with those who had completed education with the help of Tzu Chi's tuition aid, present tuition aid to students in need. (Xu Zheng-yu)
 

Tzu Chi volunteers in Taichung, Taiwan help children from disadvantaged families with their studies. (Bai Ming-de) (Tzu Chi Foundation)(Tzu Chi Foundation) (Tzu Chi Foundation)

 

12. What is Tzu Chi's tuition aid program?

Master Cheng Yen often says that education cannot wait. Upon learning of students in need from school teachers or during their visits to impoverished families and to Tzu Chi's care and aid recipients, Tzu Chi volunteers will provide tuition aid to these students to help them complete schooling. In 2016, 48,420 students in 16 countries and regions around the world had received tuition aid from Tzu Chi.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Hualien, Taiwan, together with those who had completed education with the help of Tzu Chi's tuition aid, present tuition aid to students in need. (Xu Zheng-yu)

In some countries, Tzu Chi volunteers also organize after-school tutorial sessions for students in need, pay for their computer classes and other extracurricular activities, or provide breakfast, stationery, books, uniforms, and transportation expenses to them.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Taichung, Taiwan help children from disadvantaged families with their studies. (Bai Ming-de)