Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 24 February 2012 00:00
The Tzu Chi Academy’s 15th Annual Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration, was held at Oyster Bay High School on Sunday, Jan. 29. The school began in 1998 at the Vernon School.
This is the year of the dragon, one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese lunar calendar. The Year of the Dragon is considered the luckiest in the Chinese lunar calendar – it is a good time to be born.
Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Long Island branch, together with Tzu Chi Academy Long Island hosted the event. The program included a Lion Dance, student performances, kung fu, Chinese yo yo, and folk dance presentations. There were festive Lunar New Year children’s games including stilts, paper folding, New Year scrolls (calligraphy), bouncy ping pong, etc. In addition, there were gourmet vegetarian foods available; a Tzu Chi cultural exhibition; Jing Si Café and Books; as well as a charity bazaar.The Tzu Chi Long Island foundation collected donations in returning bamboo banks – previously given out, as well as promoting Tzu Chi USA’s latest “Power of 5” campaign. By joining these expressions of love, they support children in low income families, orphans in South Africa, kids in Haiti, as well as provide hot meals for the homeless. Those who signed up for “Power of 5” on Jan. 29 received a special prayer crystal. Admission to the festival was free.
Principal Ted Lin said the Academy was originally held at what was then called the Vernon Middle School for about eight years. All the teachers and administrators are volunteers. Mr. Lin’s day job is as a manager at BOCES.
The school moved to the Oyster Bay High School to have more space for their students. Classes start in September as they follow the school year and do not meet during the summer months, when the school is closed.
The Tzu Chi Foundation believes in giving back, and in Williston Park, where they are headquartered, they cleaned up the village on Earth Day, said Mr. Lin.
The school offers classes in Mandarin Chinese and how to speak, read and write it, as well as lessons in aspects of Chinese culture. The textbooks are easy to obtain. Mr. Lin said, “It’s very easy to buy the books online.”
While presently, they don’t teach the use of the abacus, they plan to do so next year. It is now considered to be a great visual help to learning the concepts of mathematics. “A good teacher is hard to find but we will next year,” said Principal Lin.
There are 260 students, ages 4 to 15 in the school. Tuition for the year is about $480 for 30 weeks of classes. There are also classes for adults available in a 20-week series of classes for about $360. Prices may go up, he added. The school also teaches martial arts.
Students come from all around the area. “It is nice working here. This is a lovely community, very friendly. We hope we can contribute more to this community, we have manpower. We are all volunteers,” said Principal Lin. “The foundation helps, and is located in Taiwan.”
“We welcome students regardless of race or age. We have an adult class in Chinese, and we teach martial arts. You are welcome to attend,” he added.