My Experiences in Clarifying the Truth to My Teachers and Classmates
Shared at 2002 Boston Fa Conference
Greetings, Master! Greetings, everybody!
The topic of my talk is how I brought the truth about Falun Gong to my teachers and classmates in the past year and how my school became extremely supportive of Falun Gong. I have attended a private high school in Cambridge for the last 11 years and am now a senior.
Starting early last year, I began to actively seek channels to clarify the truth at my school. I placed copies of Zhuan Falun and Falun Gong in the library, and talked a few friends into reading them. When my friends learned about incidents such as the gathering of 10,000 practitioners at Zhongnanhai on April 25, 1999, and the staged-immolation incident that happened in February 2001, they all came to me for more information. I then addressed these concerns individually.
During February of last year, my efforts to bring the truth of Falun Gong really took off. I went to an assembly honoring Martin Luther King and I was so moved that I wrote a very long email to the teacher who hosted the event. A few weeks later when I sat down to speak with this teacher about Falun Gong, he commented, "How could I forget a 3-page email?" He happened to also advise the largest special interest club at school, The Multicultural Students Alliance (MSA). We decided that I would give a presentation on the last Wednesday in April hosted by the MSA.
Next, in mid-March, two friends asked me about Falun Gong. They were the Editorials editor and a senior reporter of our school newspaper, which has won numerous awards. The Editorials editor wanted me to write a guest column and promised room either in the May or the June issue. The senior reporter wanted to write an article about Falun Gong.
At the Boston 2001 Experience Sharing Conference, I heard encouraging experiences from other practitioners who were also students in high school or college. For the first time, I learned that we could collect signatures from students who would like to help stop the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. I was sure I could do more at school, and I realized that collecting signatures would be a big help in clarifying the truth.
Out of the 500 or so students in my high school, I collected 120 signatures in a matter of three weeks. I realized that obtaining the signatures was not the goal but rather getting support for Falun Gong. I could briefly describe what Falun Gong was as well as the persecution in a minute while they skimmed through the arrest and death statistics I provided and a few pictures. I was extremely moved when twice my fellow students started passing the signature list to the person next to them telling them to sign it as well before passing it on. My entire Latin class of 14 signed it. Since I was a student at the school, I could approach students I did not know and ask them to sign the petition. For those interested, I also gave them materials to take home to their parents and siblings.
In mid-April, I spoke informally to 6-7 people at one of the women's issues group meetings, emphasizing the persecution of female practitioners. The local chapter of Amnesty International quickly took action after I sent them some materials.
As the date of my presentation to the MSA drew closer, I made two announcements at the bi-weekly all school assemblies. A week before the presentation to the MSA, I surprised the high school principal by seeking permission to display some of my posters around school one day before my presentation; he gave his hearty approval. The newsletters under the poster I placed just inside the library disappeared quickly.
My presentation lasted 20 minutes: 5 minutes for what Falun Gong is, 5 minutes about the persecution, 5 minutes about the April 25th incident, the gathering of 10,000 at Zhongnanhai, and the final 5 minutes was for questions.
One of my best friends was a co-president of the Asian Cultural Society (ACS), the second largest special interest club. I spoke to her about Falun Gong in conjunction with her club only a week before my MSA presentation. They had already planned activities for that day. However, I was pleasantly surprised when halfway through the presentation, my friend led the 10 or so members of the ACS into the room.
There were around 50 students and 2-3 teachers at my MSA presentation. Everyone in the room signed the Student Appeal Petition.
The June issue of the school newspaper printed both my guest column and the featured article by the staff reporter. More than three-quarters of a page was about Falun Gong. In the 3-page summer supplement of the first issue after vacation, there was only one article focused on personal experiences and that was about my walk from Boston to DC to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. The picture that went along with the article was the biggest in that issue, even larger than that of the new principal of the school.
Lastly, a few weeks ago I gave a special lecture to the Chinese History class, a senior elective. I went into a lot more detail explaining how the persecution began and the key events leading up to the present. It was a wonderful experience because I knew everyone in the room and many were friends. Most had heard about Falun Gong before so their questions were well thought out and led me to topics I could not get to.
Looking back, my high school has shown support at all levels-- individual students, teachers, the principal, and school organizations. At first glance, most of the events I have listed above only resulted from my actions during these past two years. However, everything I have done in this school from the second grade has led up to my ease in clarifying the truth.
Most people at school knew me first as a friend, a classmate or student, and a generally friendly person before they knew me as a Falun Gong practitioner. All of the relationships I had been building for this past decade at my school were built, I now know, for the spreading of Dafa. Last year, I became extremely active in the school community. Only now do I realize why all of a sudden I, a once timid and shy person, would participate in so many things. It was to get to know more people. Because they know me in other contexts, they believe me more readily when I clarify the truth to them.
Everything is arranged so that we may take advantage of it later in Fa-rectification. We just have to figure out how to use these connections made in the course of our lives. I have become friendlier with people, which made it easier and more natural to clarify the truth about Falun Gong. This is why my school is now so supportive of Falun Gong. When I started collecting signatures, I had already gained the trust of the school community by being a good student, a good friend and working with others on larger projects like school plays. I have learned how to build a foundation of respect and trust when interacting with people.