Teaching in Chinatown

Off go the shoes! While I may have felt a little vulnerable at first, now I’m wondering why I don’t go barefoot everywhere. The Tzu Chi Foundation in Philadelphia’s Chinatown is slowly becoming home to us Art Sphere volunteer teachers. Each Sunday, we come out of the cold and are welcomed into the Tzu Chi office like good friends they haven’t seen in a while.

On the first Sunday, we introduced ourselves to the students of Tzu Chi and began a compassion-oriented lesson centered on paper hearts. This Valentine’s Day themed activity went over well! The children happily welcomed assistance from the “new guys.” Each student created artwork reflecting his or her own unique personality. While some hearts were taken home, many of them were donated to seniors and soldiers in hopes that the hearts would brighten their day.

Here is a photo of the Art Sphere Volunteer teachers with a few of the donated paper Valentines.

On the second Sunday, we got our hands dirty! Arriving early at Tzu Chi has its benefits. Before class, a few of us were able to assist in the rolling of Tang Yuan balls for a traditional soup. I was grateful for this opportunity. It was nice to be included in what felt like a family-oriented activity. It was also a great bonding tool! The children became the teachers as they showed us how to prepare the balls for cooking.

Once class began, volunteer Blair led us into a “Heart Envelope” lesson. The kids were very excited to make this trick craft. The paper heart turns into an actual envelope that conceals special messages for your loved ones. This craft idea became an instant favorite for children and adults alike.

A “Get Well” Heart Envelope was made for Kristin, our Executive Director, who was feeling a little under the weather.

We are just getting started! Each Sunday, I look forward to both instructing and learning at Tzu Chi. The volunteer teachers are brainstorming and planning each week in order to bring fun and meaningful art to the students of Tzu Chi.

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