It is our honor to study Dafa and do cultivation with innocent children
At summer vacation, Minghui School in New York and New Jersey jointly held two summer camps. While the length was short, the outcome was even better than expected. Our teachers are now greatly encouraged and more confident for further development of the Minghui School.
|Practicing Falun Gong exercises||Sending forth righteous thoughts|
|Watching a video||Having class|
The first summer camp had 15 children from ages 5 to 13 years old. The second time it was held, attendance increased to 27 with a wider age range--from 4 to 15 years old. The age gap, difference in cultivation states (nearly half of the children had just obtained Fa), and different languages (some only speak English, some only know Chinese, and some only speak Cantonese) were all challenges to us. It is also impossible to split them into different classes.
Facing the situation, we discarded many notions such as differences in age, education, cultivation levels, and lack of experience. We just had faith in Master and Dafa, and treated every child as our own. We made full use of the environment. Even though each camp was four days with only two to three teachers available, we worked very hard for six to seven hours per day, collectively studying Dafa, practicing the exercises, and sending forth righteous thoughts. We also paid close attention in leading the children by example; guiding every thought and every deed with Dafa in our everyday lives. In carrying out the three things that Master asked us to do, we educated the children with the mind of one integral body. We did as follows:
1. Study the Fa in groups and make full use of the environment
At the first summer camp, we watched the video of Master's lectures twice a day. For those kids who did not know Chinese, we asked them to read English Zhuan Falun in groups. Everyday, we recited two poems from Hong Yin. When the camp concluded, at the end of the four days, most of the children could recite 7 poems written by Master. Even those children who could not speak Mandarin could recite the poems. This was really surprising to those parents who do not practice Falun Gong. From these kids, they saw the supernormal ability of Dafa!
Two children who originally did not want to attend the Washington DC Fa Conference had changed their minds and made the trip. They also agreed to continue to attend the summer camp. As students of Minghui School, they sat in the front rows and listened to Master's Fa lecture in person. After attending the Fa conference, one couple suggested that the summer camp could be held at their home. This rendered great convenience for the lodging of all campers.
We also ran into a problem at the camp. Some children practitioners have watched Master's video Fa lecture and have read Zhuan Falun thoroughly. They also attended some Fa Conferences and activities. Yet, they did not behave like young Dafa practitioners. Some kids even thought that they "knew" the content of the Fa lecture. So they made noise, got distracted, or fell asleep while watching the video.
Therefore, we realized that children should be made to understand the importance of studying the Fa as repeatedly stressed by Master in every Fa conference. We should remind the children what Master says about the book Zhuan Falun, "Each reading is different, because it's a book of cultivation. Contained inside are inner meanings at different levels." ("Lecture at the Australia Fa Conference;" unofficial translation). We also told them that Buddhas, Taos, and Gods in heaven also study this book. We even gave examples of those children practitioners, who want to study Dafa on their own instead of being told to, even though their parents are arrested or live in exile.
At the second summer camp, in lieu of language concerns, we showed the Guangzhou Fa lecture with simultaneous English interpretation. Thus, children who know Chinese or English could study Fa together. At the beginning, there was some difficulty. One problem was that some children had a hard time sitting down because it was their first time listening to the Fa; second, children of ages 4 or 5 years walked around, talked, and did not sit at all. As a result, it was not quiet. To solve this, we as practitioner teachers first settled down in our hearts and did not force all the children to sit still. For those who could listen to the Fa lecture seriously, we smiled at them for encouragement. To those who could not get settled down, we did not complain, nor become irritated. We just occasionally pulled them to our side and signaled for them to sit down.
We found that the Fa is very powerful and when we give up the attachment that wants children to study the Fa our hearts do not become moved and reach the standard in that environment. More and more, the older kids started to become stricter with themselves and no longer became influenced by the younger ones; the older kids started concentrating on the Fa lecture more intently. At the same time, we also noticed that the two youngest children underwent significant changes: they quieted down gradually, did not walk, sat down, and finally listened to the Fa lecture along with the rest of the group. It is really difficult to imagine that in a short period of several days, about 30 children of different ages, from different areas, all sat together and studied the Fa quietly for such a long time. This scene could be seen at schools operated by Dafa practitioners--Minghui School. This is truly miraculous. We really thank Master for his blessings!
At the second summer camp, we also integrated studying Dafa with learning Chinese. In addition to letting children read and recite poems in "Hong Yin." We also taught the meaning of the Chinese characters in those poems. We told everyone that Master spreads Dafa and writes books in Chinese. Being Chinese, we are fortunate. So we hope that they can learn Chinese diligently. We invited parents with teaching experience. From the poems recited by the children, we picked up those words and phrases and taught the students with every word on the blackboard. This way, children not only studied the Fa, but they also learned Chinese. Beforehand we prepared grid papers and used dotted lines to write the Chinese characters for "Falun Dafa Hao" and "Zhen Shan Ren." Children were asked to first follow the dotted lines and then to practice writing in the blank cells. We also made "Falun Dafa Hao" and "Zhen Shan Ren" in different styles and let children fill in colors.
Although there were no desks and chairs, all kids worked diligently on the floor. We taught them hand by hand. Accompanied with beautiful Dafa music, how wonderful the teaching and learning was! In addition, we arranged classes of calligraphy and dancing to make the camp more interesting.
2. Leading Children to solve problems according to Dafa
Whenever there was a problem, we immediately convened to discuss and solve the problem with the teachings of Dafa. For example, one afternoon, three kids fought over a toy and nobody gave in. Among the three, one girl felt hurt and cried. Other children commented excitedly and everyone offered his or her opinion. When we learned of this, we resorted to "Truth Compassion Tolerance" and helped them to analyze this problem. First we required that those three children speak the truth, and every one give his or her real account of the incident. Then, we induced their kindness with "Compassion," and told them to be modest and kind toward each other in sharing.
When a conflict happens, we hope they can be tolerant and generous. We also emphasized the teachings regarding looking inward: "When two people have a conflict both should look for the causes within themselves, "What problem do I have here?" Each should search for his own problem. If a third person witnesses the conflict between the two, I would say that it's not accidental for this third person to see it, and he should also think it over: "Why did I see their conflict? Is it because I still have some shortcomings?"" (Lecture at the Western United States Fa Conference in 1999).
After listening to Teacher's Fa teaching, all of the children settled down. The three kids who all thought they were right lowered their heads and, one by one, they admitted: "It was my mistake." "At that time, if I did not insist..." Several children around also recollected some similar things that happened before and felt sorry for not looking inward, and also for forgetting to be a Dafa practitioner. With this opportunity, we again told the children that Teacher says that all practitioners are an integral body and have come together due to predestined relationships. We should cherish this period of time, treat each other as brothers and sisters, help each other, and be benevolent to each other. When doing things, we should think of other people first and put other people as the first priority, then ourselves. Soon after, the children made peace and played cheerfully together. In the following days, this sort of thing never happened again.
There was also a situation in which a child brought cartoon cards with demon-like figures on them to play with other children. Although we tried to persuade him many times not to do so, it did not help. Thus, at group discussion, we told the example that Master mentioned about dolls being sold at stores: "It used to be that the prettier the toy figurines (the figurines that children like) in stores were made, the more people liked them. Nowadays, the prettier they're made, the less people like them. If you make them look like demons and monsters, or the uglier you make them look, the faster they sell. Why is it? Nobody asked you to buy them, so why do they sell so quickly? It's because everyone likes to have them. It means that people's values have become reversed, and their demon-nature has grown large... Only demons are like this. Demons are evil, while humans should be good. Good and evil are unmistakably different.." ("Lecture at the Conference in Europe"1998; unofficial translation). After listening to this Fa, that child quickly said in public, "I will discard them right away!" It was also heard that another child disposed of similar cartoon cards upon returning home.
We find that wasting food is a wide-spread phenomenon among other waste problems due to comfortable living conditions for children brought up in America. To deal with this, we educated them that they should maintain the good virtue of being thrifty according to traditional Chinese values, and also reminded them to turn off running faucets, and turn off lights when unnecessary. We also told some examples about Teacher's thriftiness in everyday life. We adults were led to finishing the children's left-over meals. Interestingly however, that night, after the teaching, they said that they were hungry and wanted to eat the left-overs. They indeed devoured all the left-overs in the refrigerator. We also heard this story: a child previously did not eat left-overs . Upon her joining the first camp, she did not eat when seeing left-overs at her grandma's home. Finally, after she stayed with us, a new "to go" box had to be bought for her. She had completely changed her view regarding eating left-overs!
One day after the summer camp, a practitioner showed us several new clothes she had just bought for her child. The child suddenly lowered her head. Seemingly thinking about something, she said, "Mother, we should be thrifty." She also said, "I was wrong. Last time I did not eat left-overs at grandma's home and I should not have asked her to buy a fresh meal. I am really remorseful. I should have eaten the left-overs." The child's mother also told us that it is truly something to witness the child's change in mindset after just a few days at the summer camp.