Since it was difficult to attract doctors and nurses to the Tzu Chi Hospital, located on the undeveloped east coast of Taiwan, the Master planned to set up a nursing college and a medical college to produce caring, compassionate medical specialists for the hospital. Both schools provide free tuition and living allowances for fourth- and fifth-year students, so that students can concentrate on studying without worrying about the expenses. The Master's concept of education emphasized providing not only knowledge and skills, but also a spirit of humanitarianism.
The Yi Teh Mother/Sister Association provides personal guidance, and there are also classes in tea ceremony, flower arrangement, visual arts, and Zen meditation to uplift the character and morality of the students. More than 1,000 nurses with the spirit of the Goddess of Mercy have graduated and are working and receiving praise in hospitals and clinics all over Taiwan.
Taiwanese aborigines mostly live in poverty and receive poor educations in their remote mountain villages. The Master had a desire to help aboriginal students and to train nurses who would go back to their villages and improve local health. In 1996, the Ministry of Education gave formal permission to the Tzu Chi Junior College of Nursing to accept 50 tuition-free aboriginal students through a separate entrance examination. Thus, the Master's wish of educating young aboriginal females has been given further support.
The medical college occupies an area of 817,603 sq. ft. Future plans for expansion call for a maximum of 1,500 students, so the college will have the largest area of any in Taiwan, while having the smallest number of students. Under the spiritual guidance of the Master, the college is a school that emphasizes specialized knowledge and humanitarianism. Elective courses include flower arrangement, tea ceremony, Zen meditation, performance arts and sign language. Anatomy class is a requirement for third-year students. By the end of 1996, nearly 950 people had signed agreements to donate their bodies to the college after their death. Currently, every four-anatomy student can share one body. In other medical schools in Taiwan, 200 students must share a single cadaver!
Students maturing in an atmosphere of love naturally sense the spirit of love. If the students can learn to respect teachers and to offer love, that will be a great reward for Tzu Chi members.
The education of skillful and talented people is a long road. It takes constant input, yet it takes a long time to see the results. Accordingly, the Master instructs her disciples to give without regret and to willingly take up this burden. Besides establishing the nursing college and the medical college, Tzu Chi is also very concerned about educating society. Since 1991, college students have volunteered at the Tzu Chi General Hospital every summer. Through their volunteer service at the hospital, students are able to experience the pain and helplessness of human life and discern the correct goals for their own future lives. More than 4,000 college students have volunteered at the hospital, so the pure current of Tzu Chi is gradually spreading among schools at all levels.
The great love of Tzu Chi also helps to bridge the generation gap. During parent-child camps, many children are able to open their hearts and hug their parents, saying, "I love you," and parents can say, "I was wrong and I'm sorry!" The embraces and revelations of feelings help to heal the alienation between parents and children. Teachers bring Still Thoughts education into their campuses and approach their students with love and kindness. In this way, the teachers not only nurture themselves, but they also plant seeds of goodness in the hearts of these students and thus indirectly influence the thinking and behavior of their parents.
The nursing college and the medical college are the foundation of Tzu Chi education. Now, Tzu Chi has set up kindergartens, elementary schools, secondary schools, and a university. It is clear that the Tzu Chi education emphasizing both humanitarianism and professional expertise has been a good model for education in Taiwan.
Newer news items:
- Many Miss American Dream
- Salute to 300 Pathology Silent Mentors
- Unreserved Giving of Love Nurtures Kind & Competent Doctors
- What a Good Way to Educate Doctors
Older news items:
- A Humanitarian Education
- Five UNHCR Tzu Chi Education Centres' Joint Sports Day
- Ten Years of Healing
- The Making of a Tzu Chi Surgeon