Monday October 21st, 2019
Tzu Chi Early Childhood (EC) School was honoured to join the ‘Learning to Live Together’, an intercultural and interfaith programme for ethics education under Arigatou Foundation and UNESCO Paris, organised by Rumah Komunitas Kreatif Head, Ms Ella Yulaelawati with the Indonesian Cultural and Education Ministry.
The training was held on August 19–20, 2019 in Bekasi. Ms Tiwi Susanti, from TK Pertiwi Abhilasa highlighted the importance of this kind of training to be done at the Early Childhood level. Ms Iing Felicia Joe, Tzu Chi EC Principal added that, ‘We’re not a Buddhist school, but so much of our values are based on Buddhism values, in this opportunity we are given the chance to share and let them know what is Buddhism? So even though we come from different backgrounds, we could understand and respect each other.’
Children were taught to first understand themselves, by drawing a self-portrait and recognised their own physical traits to others. ‘This way, they would see that “Oh, we’re actually not the same” but we have to work together.’ Children were also asked to work together through different games, such as holding a ball over a big parachute and ensure the ball to stay afloat.
Other interesting activities by children were understanding the meaning of Idul Fitri and Easter, one of which involved children from all backgrounds to decorate Easter Eggs. This way, children were taught that being different could be beautiful and special in its own way.
Our teachers from Tzu Chi Early Childhood also given the opportunity to share Tzu Chi School’s Recycling programme, ‘Our teachers taught kids to differentiate recyclable and non-recyclable waste, which is important for us who live in Jakarta, who produced tons of trash per day with one of the highest pollution rates in the world.’
The two-day programme focused on children’s activities on the first day, and work as a sharing platform for teachers on the second day. The programme itself has taken places in Primary and Secondary level across the world, including Indonesia and now started to be applied towards students and teachers at the Early Childhood level. In this programme, there were five kindergarten representing different faiths in Indonesia, namely, Tzu Chi Early Childhood (based on Buddhism), TK Pertiwi Abhilasa (Hindu nuances), TK Al-Hidayah 2 (Islamic), TK Boncel (Catholic), and TK Aletheia (Christian).
The Indonesian spirit of ‘Unity in Diversity’ was also said by Master Cheng Yen in one of Jing Si Aphorisms, ‘Forging harmonious relationship in daily living requires that we be flexible and accommodating when upholding our principles.’ It is hoped that through this programme, early years students across Indonesia could apply the philosophy of gratitude, respect, and love towards one another, regardless of one’s background and belief.