The Keys are in Our Hands: TCU’s Freshmen Orientation Camp Encourages Students to Explore Their Lives

How to manage college life is up to everyone, and our choices will surely affect the future. Tzu Chi University held a freshman orientation camp on September 9, 2020. To remind our freshmen that they have choices, members of Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association presented several gifts to each one, including a heart-shaped pin, cable organizer (signifying keeping flexible and doing everything well), chocolate (implying managing stress skillfully), and a book (suggesting how to maintain lifelong learning). The University wishes students will plan for their futures, take responsibility for themselves, and become professionals with compassion and capabilities.

The keys in hands symbolize the keys to wisdom. At the opening ceremony, University vice president Jui-Hung Yen advised students to take initiative to explore, have more understanding and build more accommodation, gain a deeper insight, feel more grateful, and serve others with compassion. Freshmen can cherish the next several years to learn, with accompaniment of their faculty members and peers, to apply what they have learned into practice, and attend to others’ needs.

Many guests came here to welcome our freshmen. Among them were Tzu Chi Education Foundation CEO Dr. Pen-Jung Wang, and the members of Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association.

Tzu Chi University was founded in 1994, at that time as Tzu Chi Medical College, and its first day of classes has also taken place in this venue. Director Yi-Chung Liu of the Office of Humanistic Culture showed a 1994 photo. He pointed out that a typhoon hit Hualien and caused damage several days before the University had its first day of classes. Fortunately, 20,000 Tzu Chi volunteers came from around Taiwan and helped clean up the environment, so the College was able to hold the first day of class as scheduled. He concluded that Tzu Chi University was founded with love, and we look forward to seeing students to serve others with love.

One of the highlights was for the dads and moms of Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association to meet with their freshmen. The dads and moms led students to sing together, and then they took time getting to know each other.

This was the freshmen’s first day and they hadn’t known each other before. The dads and moms’ smiles, as well as their loving care, made the students feel as if these were their parents. Yu-Zhen Liu is a public health freshman who wrote to her mother that “Tzu-Cheng dads and Yi-Te moms are like dad and you, and their love touched me greatly!” She used to serve community residents with her mom, and she wishes to acquire more skills and knowledge in long-term care and community service, so that she may serve more needy people.

The quality of Tzu Chi University’s education is well known. Miao-Yan Shao is a physical therapy freshman, and her brother is a physical therapy sophomore. With the recommendation of her brother, and the family’s support, Miao-Yan chose Tzu Chi University. She had visited the University campus before and felt that the University does provide a good learning environment. She wishes to earn a lot here, and after completing her undergraduate program, she is pretty sure she won’t have any difficulties in finding her desired job.

The College period is a turning point in one’s life, and many freshmen will start setting their goals and coming up with plans for their future. Zhi-Yu Xu, a freshman of the Department of English Language and Literature, said that Tzu Chi University provides many opportunities for domestic and international students to learn overseas, and she will cherish these opportunities.

Tzu Chi University has been promoting a vegetarian diet for many years. In facing COVID-19, many people around the world have realized the importance of having a vegetarian diet, so the University has initiated numerous programs to invite its members to switch to a vegetarian diet. Professor Yie-Ru Chiu gave a talk entitled: “The way we eat will affect the world we will see”. Soybeans are the most important source of feed for animal husbandry, and as a result, rain forests have been cut down to replant soybeans.

However, producing one kilogram of beef requires 12 kilograms of grain. If we don’t eat meat, 12 kilograms of grain can be provided to more people. Turning rain forests into soybean fields will surely cause soil erosion and ecological damage, so we need to make a wise decision regarding what we eat, in order to do something for the world’s betterment.

Director of the Center for General Education Yun-Chih Chiang encouraged freshmen to take general education courses in order to know more about themselves. He highly recommended students take courses such as USR innovation, and creativity and innovation. Students may take as many general education courses as possible during their freshman and sophomore years. Moreover, they may take their classes both on campus and off campus.