Long Distance Learning – Hsi Lai School Students Join Teachers in Taiwan

This summer, Buddha’s Light Hsi Lai School (BLHLS) teamed up with the University System of Taiwan and Overseas Compatriots Culture and Education Foundation to conduct the first virtual long-distance classes designed and led by overseas intern teachers in Taiwan, supported and assisted by BLHLS teachers in the classroom with the students in California. Traditional Chinese and Taiwan Aboriginal stories and folklore were skillfully interwoven into an impressive curriculum for 135 students—May 31st to July 22nd. Listening and learning about diverse cultures tickled imaginations, warmed hearts, and expanded young minds.

With the support of Ven. Hui Dong, the principal of Buddha’s Light Hsi Lai School, and Director Ven. Man Zhao, Hsi Lai School administrators contacted Professor Qingzhao He of University System of Taiwan, and the liaisons of Overseas Compatriots Culture and Education Foundation, Yifen Sun and Yuyou Huang, respectively, to connect teachers and students.

During the 8-week course, intern teachers shared many traditional and folk Chinese stories and the Taiwanese culture which included: “The Mid-Autumn Festival,” “The Story of the New Year,” “Legend of the White Snake,” “How the Creatures in the Chinese Zodiac Found Their Place,” and “The Story of Chinese Poet Qu Yuan.” Teachers, also, skillfully guided student discussions by using short stories of virtue and led student crafts by reading inspirational stories. After listening to ‘The Story of the New Year,’ students made paper cutouts; after “The Sky Lantern Story”, lanterns with prayers written upon them were created. After getting to know the 16 Taiwanese aboriginal peoples, students made colorful traditional Amis headdresses.

This year intern teachers excitedly taught diverse cultural activities such as shadow puppetry, puppet show, diabolo—a game where an hourglass-shaped top is thrown up and caught with a string stretched between two sticks—Chinese chess, and a plethora of other children's games. And, despite the various pandemic limitations imposed on travelers and the inconveniences of going abroad, the Hsi Lai Summer School Program attracted numerous parents and students making these online, long-distance classes a new milestone. Learning is no longer limited by distance!