FGSITC Buddhism Friendship Scholarship: Nurturing Global Youth in Dharma Propagation

Fo Guang Shan International Translation Center (FGSITC) and the AJ Wang Foundation have been collaborating since 2023 to offer the "Buddhism Friendship Scholarship" to outstanding bilingual students from colleges and high schools in Southern California. On March 16, 2024, marking the second year of collaboration, FGSITC hosted its first workshop of the year at the FGS Hsi Lai Temple. The workshop aimed to enhance the twenty-six participants’ understanding of the translation center and leverage their diverse expertise in propagating Dharma while emphasizing the internationalization of Buddhism.

Venerable Yi Chao, the executive director of FGSITC, introduced the center and the scholarship's objectives. Founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun in 1996 at Hsi Lai Temple in the United States, FGSITC aims to realize Venerable Master's vision of "letting the Dharma stream flow across all five continents." FGSITC, in collaboration with all of the publishing houses under the FGS system, has translated and published Buddhist classics and series in twenty-one languages. Not only have these publications received awards, but they have also been designated as textbooks by university professors. FGSITC provides free public access to its publications and has established a website that facilitates the global dissemination of Humanistic Buddhism. It serves as a platform for participants to showcase their diverse talents in the hope that they will become vital forces in the propagation of Buddhism. Venerable Yi Chao also expressed gratitude to the scholarship provider, the AJ Wang Foundation, founded by Alice and JP Wang.

Shigu Amanda Ling from FGSITC and Echo Tsai, the coordinator of the Scholarship Counseling Committee, welcomed the participants. The committee members who attended were seven professionals from various fields, all expressing high enthusiasm for serving and welcoming participants.

Participants from 2023 shared their reflections on the "Buddhism in Every Step” English Booklet Series authored by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The themes covered the Four Noble Truths, Buddhist perspectives on time and space, Buddhism and psychology, etc. The evaluations conducted by Venerable Yi Chao, Venerable Miao Hsi, Venerable Miao Zhong, members of the Scholarship Counseling Committee, and the new 2024 participants were based on presentation and organization, knowledge, audience engagement, and visual aids. Awards were given to the top three presenters based on these criteria.

Venerable Miao Zhong guided the participants in "Buddhist Etiquette," where, to the sound of the bell, they practiced joining palms, prostrating, and bowing while maintaining mindfulness and regulating their breathing. Teacher Jo Ho from Buddha's Light Hsi Lai School taught "Unlock Your Buddha Nature Through AI Drawing," emphasizing Venerable Master's teaching that "I am the Buddha." Participants communicated with AI to draw the image of Buddha as perceived in their minds. This session sparked discussions among participants about the impact of AI on their lives. During the ice-breaking session, participants got to know each other through mutual interviews, accompanied by laughter.

Finally, participants opted to join different teams, including translation, media production, and skit creation, hoping to utilize their expertise in collective brainstorming and creation during the subsequent three workshop sessions.

Coordinator Echo Tsai expressed her delight in seeing that half of the 26 participants in the 2024 program had returned from the 2023 cohort to attend once again, which she considered an excellent affirmation for the counseling committee. New participant Jia Li Wang expressed gratitude for the tailored curriculum catering to the needs of youth, stating that Humanistic Buddhism brings optimism to life and provides practical guidance. Another new participant, Guan Yi Chang, who aspires to become a psychology professor, expressed that Buddhism stabilizes the mind and is closely related to psychology; she looks forward to more profound learning during the workshop.

(Photographed by Chihcheng Chang)