Christine Diao is one of our many UCSD Tzu Ching Alumni. She graduated UCSD as a Psychology Major and minor in Linguistics in 2015. Christine was our lovely 2014-2015 President or better known as “Supreme Leader” in a loving and non-dictatorial way of course.
Let’s hear her reflection of her time with UCSD Tzu Ching :).
My journey as as Tzu Ching began when I was a freshman at UCSD, but my story with Tzu Chi started before college. When I was in middle school, my mom became friends with a SG (our lovely Peggy SG!) who happened to be a teacher at an academic workshop that my sister and I regularly attended during the summer and school year. She introduced my family to TC and some of the events that were held at the Northridge service center. Some of the events were far away from where we lived, so we couldn’t attend all the time. Peggy SG eventually moved to San Diego, and there wasn’t a Tzu Shao chapter near my hometown, so naturally lost touch with TC. I didn’t think that I’d start volunteering with TC again until I started my undergraduate career at UCSD. When they heard that I would be moving to San Diego, Peggy SG and Tenshang SB encouraged me to join the TC chapter there; I was curious about what TC would be like in college, so I willingly agreed to try it out. Being the shy and awkward Christine that I was four years ago, I was nervous about the first orientation. I wasn’t sure what to expect, what kind of people I’d meet, or what I’d gain from my time there. However, it was such a fun experience to be at my first TC orientation! All the members and officers were so genuine and easy-going that I forgot about being nervous and just ended up enjoying my time there. I remember that an officer (shout-out to Sylvia!) approached me and my roommate right after we entered the event room, which made me feel very welcomed; I think that’s one of the many great things about TC: members are always trying to connect with new people in a very sincere way.
As time went on, I got to know the members more and started to immerse myself in Tzu Chi culture and the many volunteer events that were held. Even when I hadn’t known the members and advisors for very long, they made me feel as if I were a part of their big family. It always felt like a big family gathering or reunion every time we saw each other. There were trips to San Dimas, dinner gatherings, and holiday parties along with the volunteer events. As I grew more attached to the chapter, I wanted to become an officer and contribute more by helping with event planning and overall advancement of the organization. I came into the organization wanting to volunteer and help others, but I learned much more than I expected I would. For example, I didn’t realize that I would learn so much about sign language, Tzu Chi’s international work, and the other chapters across the nation. My college experience would not have been as meaningful as it had been if it were not for Tzu Ching. It was a pleasure to have been able to serve others through our community service events and make a positive influence through our philosophies of compassion and great love. Before joining this organization, I would have never known how powerful one idea, one person, and one seed of love could create such great blessings. My time in Tzu Ching was definitely a unique opportunity for me to cultivate myself to become a better individual through Master Cheng Yen’s teachings as well as all the Tzu Chings and advisors.
During my time as a Tzu Ching, I have met some of my closest friends; they were the people who celebrated the happy days with me, pulled me through some very difficult times, and accepted me even when I had made my fair share of mistakes. I feel as if I have learned something important from every volunteer, advisor, and aid recipient that I have met. Even though I may have not realized it at first, I believe that our interactions have led me to understand more on how we should treat other people as well as ourselves. As an undergraduate student, I often overworked myself and would not easily forgive myself for the mistakes I made, whether it’d be academic, interpersonal, or TC-related. My fellow Tzu Chings, advisors, and even my own parents saw this trait in me and encouraged me to focus on the better side of each situation. I realized that I shouldn’t be achieving perfection; rather, it is more important to focus on doing my best while keeping a clear view of my goals. I came to understand that I should reflect on how I can be grateful for the all situations that I encounter, even my mistakes. In addition, I realized that I too should be accepting of others’ mistakes and see them as learning opportunities to improve our bonds with each other and the organization as a whole. As I continue to incorporate these teachings into my life, I will always remember the people who led me to discover them. I am deeply grateful to have parents who supported my journey as a Tzu Ching and to have such dedicated Tzu Chings, alumni, and advisors with whom I can learn the Tzu Chi path.
Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read a little bit about my experiences with the organization! If you’re interested in joining TC, I recommend that you give it a try. You never know what great people and experiences you will encounter. 🙂