Children & Youth “Step Up” to Participate in Buddhist Exam - Buddha’s Light Hsi Lai School

Excitement and a hint of nervousness filled the air as 32 first-time exam takers, aged 5 to 19, gathered on Jan. 13th at the Buddha’s Light Hsi Lai School (BLHLS) campus to undertake the 2023 North America BLIA Buddhist Exam online. These students were thoughtfully guided and lovingly prepped by teachers, parents, and coordinators.

Among the 32 exam takers, 14 were Bodhi students—individuals who had previously attended BLHLS until the age of 12, graduated, and then returned as volunteers after turning 13. With encouragement, support, and positive role models, children and youth were able to step up and successfully complete the Buddhist exam.

At 9 am, students happily arrived, and were divided into four classrooms and the meditation hall—reserved for the actual exam. After setting up their online exam equipment, study groups were formed. Bodhi Coordinators Jia Li Wang and Brandon Hsu, created study guides, organized study groups, and led the youth group in a fun Kahoot! game they developed especially to review all the exam info. The children's group, led by Ms. Jo, Ms. Jane, Ms. Evangeline, and parents Gary and Anh Auyeung, were also divided into groups for reviewing and preparing for the online exam. Once ready, all the students logged on.

Isaac Chen, one of the participating students, is the grandson of Carolyn Chen, who is the current BLIA president of the Hacienda Heights Subchapter. Youth group coordinator Brandon Hsu, is the grandson of elder supervisor Linda Wei. Jia Li Wang, also a youth group coordinator, has been volunteering at Hsi Lai Temple since she was 5, enjoying community service and absorbing Humanistic Buddhism with her mother. Both Brandon Hsu and Jia Li Wang shared that when they first learned about leading the youth in the Buddhist exam, they felt a sense of "pressure." However, as they faced the challenge and witnessed everyone—even the youngest—making great efforts to participate and to learn together, they were both deeply moved.

(Photos Provided by Hsi Lai School)