#UCSDTCCA Summer Journey – Kathy Lam

Meet Kathy Lam, our amazing 3-in-1 Team Lead!

Kathy joined us during her first year at UCSD after graduating from high school as a Tzu Shao. She has been a very active TC member since her arrival and loves how her passion for photography/art and TC complement each other. Kathy is now a second year at UCSD and we are so happy to have her on our officer cabinet this year, FINALLY.

She’s currently a 2nd year @ UCSD (Sixth College, ICAM Major) and we are so happy to have her on our officer cabinet this year because she brightens our days with her quirkiness and love of miniature animals.

This girl is a sleepy panda during her downtime, when she’s not busy with school, work, dancing, or TC.  But let’s hear what she has been busy with this TC summer of hers… aka Tzu Chi Musical & Art Youth Summer Workshop, Tzu Chi Summer Camp, Tzu Chi Collegiate Association Leadership Conference in Houston, and Tzu Chi Youth Association Leadership Conference.


Tzu Chi Musical & Art Youth Summer Workshop (6/15 – 6/19)

Through the help of a job posting on our UCSD Tzu Ching Facebook page that our Alumni, Martina Lo, posted, I was able to have a chance to teach 4-12 year olds Arts & Crafts for an hour a day for 5 days :).

But, I applied waaay back in March. At first I thought I knew what I getting myself into, thinking, “Pfft, a week or two after finals? No big deal. I can handle teaching kids… I think.” but then as summer and finals approached, I started freaking out haha because I realize that I’ve never really taught or even really dealt elementary kids before. In addition, I had to come up with a rough lesson plan, which I’ve never done before. This was during the last couple of weeks of Spring quarter so I was pretty stressed out.

Papa Lam volunteering his time to create a castle stage prop

Finals were over and I came back to Long Beach and the next morning, went over to Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool in Walnut for a staff meeting. We had 2 days to prep for the week. This camp had 4.5 days to pull together a full musical performance that included decorating the stage with props, singing, dancing, AND acting. Their theme? Tangled.

Camp was frustrating yet fun and rewarding… running around with a camera, documenting the camp, sewing costumes for certain characters from Tangled ( 2 green Pascals, vest for Flynn, cape for Maximus who ended up being brown instead of white haha), decorating and making props for the stage, coming up with a daily lesson plan and trying to execute it well, and creating worksheets for the students to show their parents what they learned and be able to create the crafts post-camp.

Lawrence took me to the classroom and pointed to each of the 10 kids, who were all wearing the same shirt aka the Tzu Chi Camp Shirt, and their corresponding name. My reaction: “Oh god. Finals just ended… my brain is so dead, how am I supposed to memorize 10 names on the spot @_@…” but somehow, I was able to do it.

The Kiddies (minus one) & I with their flower creations 🙂

The first day I taught them how to make gift-tissue paper flowers.  Shirley SG from Cerritos, taught me a couple years back and I remember how fun it was the first time I did it. Being able to see how fascinated the children were about being able to create something was heart-warming.

Weirdest feeling about the camp was realizing that I was a lot older than these children and being called “Miss Kathy.” I’m so used to just having someone tell me exactly what they wanted and I would just execute that but instead, having the opportunity to think for myself and having to control everything was foreign-feeling.

Stage Set-up, couple of minutes before the final performance

I remember Emily (one of the other mentors) telling me how the kids will be super obedient and nice the first day because they had yet to know how strict I would be. Should’ve known that would happen because the next couple of days were a lot harder to control the children and get them to listen to me. TT^TT.

I think, overall, I’m just really grateful to have had the opportunity to have met so many amazing mentors as well as being able to teach those kiddies. The kids were really sweet and adorable, and just watching them have so much fun and interest in the activities I planned out felt worthwhile all the lack of sleep that was happening. I have a newfound gratitude for educators. Also super proud of the kiddies and their end performance :). Watching them perform, as I was solo-ing A/V team, was bittersweet. I was happy everyone’s hard work paid off but I was sad that it was ending already.

Also, extra kudos and gratitude for my Papa Lam because without him, I don’t know how I would have been able to have the time to create the castle stage props. In addition, for giving me the opportunity to have this job by driving 30 minutes back and forth to drop me off and pick me up from Walnut campus.

2015 TCSC-Tzu Chi Summer Camp 慈濟美國加州遊學營(7/8 – 8/10)

The musical camp ended and Lawrence offered me a position for Tzu Ching Staff for Tzu Chi Summer Camp. This was a camp that was one month long. Originally I had other plans but they didn’t fall through and I’m glad they didn’t. I was hesitant because I would have to deal with students from Taiwan, meaning full-on Mandarin mode had to be used and well… my Mandarin sucks xD. Er, it’s decent but yeah…I talked to people who were staff for the camp the year prior aka Martina Lo and Christine Diao and they definitely recommended doing it. So I took the chance (even if they emphasized the fact that it was a LOT of hard work). I thought I’d take on the challenge and push myself.

The purpose of this month-long camp was to have the students learn to integrate the camp motto of “Trust, Cooperation, Strategic planning, and Communication” into their daily living while gaining valuable language and cultural exposures along the way.

Now imagine after a couple days of moving things and setting up 10 rooms for 43 students & a teacher from Taiwan, 44 completely new faces with a language barrier, programming activities with a meaning behind it, trying to successfully execute that activity, constantly traveling to places (Disneyland, Universal Studios, Angels Stadium, North California – Google, Facebook, Fisherman’s Wharf-, etc.), all the while chaperoning and making sure everything runs smoothly, 24 hours a day for 30 days straight.

There were definitely times during the camp where I wanted to give up, regretted taking the opportunity, for pushing myself etc. There were even times where I just wanted to cry. The emotional, mental, and physical toll was like “How is this even summer break? It’s not relaxing one bit.” The main struggle I had with the camp was probably thinking about how much it sucked to have a language barrier and how I wish I could’ve spoken Mandarin better so I could communicate with them better. A part of me felt like they wouldn’t like me because we couldn’t really communicate well. Felt like I wasn’t pulling enough of my weight or disappointing those around me. But somehow, I think my team knew that and even some of the students too. I was constantly being re-assured that I was definitely doing my part and that it was okay that my Mandarin wasn’t superb because the students were there to learn and practice English. I was giving them the opportunity to improve their self. A couple of the students would try their best to communicate to me and it honestly meant a lot to me because I know that speaking a language you’re not comfortable with is scary. The thought about being criticized or not understood is a really meh feeling.

During this month, it made me re-realize that I’m very much the type to just take things over and do it all myself because it’s just “easier”. I know how I want things and how to get it to be the way I want. I got to see different types of leadership when working with Edith Chen (Hofstra/New York), Katie Lin (UC Davis), and Bryan Yang (NorCal => UCSD). Honestly would not have been able to complete this camp without them. Katie was always so optimistic no matter what situation we were in, Edith had her educator-nature and wasn’t afraid to be strict, and Bryan was basically the translator and heavy-hauler. Definitely going to miss working with Edith and Katie :(… (Meanwhile… Bryan has joined the UCSD Tzu Chings haha).

Overall, exhausting… but definitely worth the memories created and bonds formed. I think because of how close the students (ages 15-21) were to my own age, the easier it was to relate to them. It also made me want to take care of them and make sure they had the best experience possible because for some it was their first time being in America and possibly may be their only chance to ever be here. It also gave me the opportunity to take on responsibility because normally, I’m the one being taken care of (since I’m the youngest child in the family). I didn’t think I would cry when we had to all part but seeing how hard they worked to put together the closing ceremony, singing with their full sincerity, and crying, I ended up tearing up a bit. Still remember how sad it was to separate our ways at the airport. It’s really hard not to cry with them when they cry and hug you tightly, not wanting to let go.

Often times I’m behind the camera taking pictures for everyone else so it also really touched me whenever I would be taking pictures of the students and they would offer and insist that they help out to take pictures because they wanted me to feel included and have pictures to look back on as well. 

After this camp, I want to work on my Mandarin as well as my leadership skills aka work as a team. Looking back, this summer was by far the most productive yet and after this camp, all other tasks seem less daunting. & Just like what Christine told me, “I would definitely do it once for the experience, but I’m not sure I would want to do it again.”

I definitely recommend other Tzu Chings to staff for this camp because even though it’s exhausting, in the end it is more than worth the exhaustion.

遊學營幹部 聖地牙哥慈青 林麗婷

為了不虛度這個夏天,我為自己定下了目標 – 要過一個充實、有意義並能讓自己成長的暑假。曾支援遊學營的慈青們分享,擔任遊學營的工作給予他們很多寶貴的人生經驗,對他們的個人成長有深遠和正面的影響。因此,我也希望透過支援遊學營而吸取更多經驗,加強領導才能和認識新朋友。

2015 TCCA Leadership Conference in Houston (8/13 – 8/16)

Dead tired and socially exhausted from TCSC, after a couple days of rest, I went to Houston, Texas for the 2015 Tzu Chi Collegiate Association Leadership Conference.

The funny part was that my Tzu Ching friends from TCSC 2015 were also at the camp. Bryan and Edith were group leaders and Katie was on curriculum team :). Super hard workers xD.

I thought overall the conference was really inspiring as well as fun. Personally being involved with Tzu Chi for so long and having so many family members involved with Tzu Chi in their own way, I never really learned too much about the spiritual aspects or the reasoning as to why I was doing when volunteering for Tzu Chi as a Tzu Shao or Tzu Ching. I just knew on a basic level of what to do, how to get things done, and that it felt rewarding to help others.

I learned a lot about myself (realizing how far I’ve come with my relative-relationships,  negative thoughts, and emotions) and definitely enjoyed TC Family Time, listening to SG/SBs stories and experiences, as well as getting to meet all the awesome Tzu Chings from across the country (and even from Taiwan! which it was ironic that my roommate was actually friends with one of the students from TCSC). Though I must admit, the best part was walking into the Jing Si Hall, joining in the ice breaker and realizing that the girl standing in the center was someone I had met in 2011 at a Tzu Shao Retreat and had not kept in touch since. “Reunited (with Sae Yokoyama) and it feels so good~” 🙂

“Transform your mind, change the world.”

*I would type more but my notebook/quotes are all at home in L.A.

TL;DR The picture below summarizes how much I wanted to put lots of effort and attention into the conference experience but was exhausted at the same time. BUT TO BE FAIR, I put my head down during a break time TT_TT. #SleepyPandaProblems

2015 TCYA Leadership Retreat (9/5 – 9/7)

During the last week of TCSC, Lawrence asked if I wanted to help out with the Tzu Shao Retreat, since Katie and Edith would no longer be in SoCal and Bryan was already helping out Jimmy SB with cooking for the event. At first I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure how much more socializing I could take haha. But in the end I volunteered to be his assistant (a member of the curriculum team) because it was only going to be a couple of days and I could actually speak the language of the camp, English~ No more language barrier for me pwhahaha! Plus I found out  that the Tzu Shaos I met at TCCA were going and I wanted to see them again :).

I thought I was only going to assist on minor things like passing out materials or something along those lines. However, it ended up that Martina and I had to teach sign language specifically the “So I Stand Up” adaptation by a Tzu Ching named Sophia Jin. It was the same SL that we were taught for TCCA.  In addition we had to plan ice breakers, host it, and introduce their task of coming up with talents to showcase at the end of camp. I used to be so confident in my presentation skills but I apparently am now out of practice because I get so nervous >_<.

It was great getting to see all these high schoolers put together their skits and talents within a night. Reminded me of how creative and energetic one can be haha. Definitely had a great time watching each talent :), even if they made Wilson and I run around to double check what they were showcasing and have the audio/music all worked out.

Overall, the camp was just very nostalgic and it was great to meet our future TC Tritons, Justine Lee & Roger Chou :). Not to mention getting to work together with Wilson Ku (whom I met at Tzu Shao camp back in 2012) and the amazing UCSD Alumni Martina Lo of whom I’ve heard so much about 🙂 was great.

And as always~ my job was to put together a slideshow for the ending of the camp~. More sleepless nights ^_^; Little workstation in the hallway…in the dark… all alone… while the song “So I Stand Up” brainwashed me.


And… well, that ends our #UCSDTCCA Summer Journey 2015 :).

To those who have read the full 6-part series (Roger, Bryan, Justine, Lydia, Can, and Kathy), we give you kudos. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading our TC Triton Family Members’ reflections ❤  We really appreciate everyone’s participation and can’t wait to bring you even more ^_^!

We welcome feedback with open arms :D. Thank you again and until next time, please check out our #WeeklyWisdoms project (on Facebook or on Instagram) where we take Jing Si Aphorisms, turn them into graphics, and post them weekly 🙂 and join us in person at our Events!


The UCSD Tzu Ching Family ❤


One thought on “#UCSDTCCA Summer Journey – Kathy Lam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s