Among the 39 collegiate volunteers trained for the New York mission, nine of them attended the UN Youth Conference while the rest visited New York disaster relief centers and the Red Cross. Six of the collegiate volunteers took off on August 4. 2011, to South Africa for another school children relief mission.
Atmosphere of dharma shown in Tzu Chi uniform, compassion expressed in action
The opening ceremony of UN Youth Conference started at 9:30 am on August 3, 2011. Tzu Chi Collegiate Association volunteers were the only non-profit, non-governmental organization participating in uniform. When the 600 seats were almost filled, a bright blue ribbon flowed smoothly into the conference room and formed an eye catching blue belt at the center of the room.
Condoleezza Rice, the United States representative to the United Nations, was the invited speaker at the conference. Her concise remarks and the usage of language familiar to the young people inspired a lot of attendees. After her speech, footage of a conclusion at the UN Security Council by Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, was viewed. Never before has the issue of the younger generation ever emphasized in a conference at the Security Council. Yet, the issue was mentioned and Ban Ki-Moon stopped by the conference twice on his way to his meetings.
Also, Jourdan Urbach, a Yale student who had been performing for Tzu Chi for years, was invited again as a speaker and a violinist at the conference. Both of his speech and violin performance were very inspiring to the attending young people including Tzu Chi collegiate association volunteers. Jourdan stressed that instead of a solo practice to perfection, it would be more meaningful to perform as a spiritual volunteer for a big audience for a mutual gain.
At this young age, Jourdan keeps on doing what he can to help inspire Tzu Chi volunteers on the importance of living and cherishing on what we have and also appreciates the support and encouragement from Tzu Chi volunteers.
In addition to what they learned from the speakers, Tzu Chi Collegiate Association volunteers also took the opportunity to interact with other participating members who shared the same ideals of offering what they have and at the same time opening their views toward their future. Tzu Chi Collegiate Association volunteers seized all possible chances to learn. Tzu Chi volunteers have always encouraged these young volunteers to ask the speakers questions after each speech and to introduced Tzu Chi to each of them. Patrick Sciarratt, the chairman of this conference, had a very good impression about Tzu Chi and supported the Tzu Chi Collegiate Association volunteers for their vegetarianism presentation.
The well-prepared presentation on vegetarianism was finally brought to the stage on the third day of the conference. Liu Si-Chia and Huang Hwai-Hsiung were in charge of the topic “The Impact of Vegetarianism to Our Environment.” Before the conference, these two young people had spent lot of time and effort collecting related information and documenting scientific data for a convincing argument in support of vegetarianism and its positive effect to the environment.
The 30 minutes presentation was the first in eight years where Tzu Chi Collegiate Association volunteers have been allowed to present at the conference. In the very beginning, they only attended the conference. Later on, a 2-minute briefing was given and now a full 30-minute presentation was granted. Liu Si-Chia, a computer science major at a University of California campus, was in charge of this importance presentation and also participated in all the scheduled activities.
This three-day itinerary was well packed and all nine Tzu Chi Collegiate Association volunteers have learned a lot from it. The group picture taken by the river bank in front of the United Nations building shows a mission fulfilled expression on their young faces.