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Julie Do

HUMA 110


Civic Engagement

For my civic engagement assignment, I participated at the Buddhist temple Chua Khai

Tuong. Growing up, I was raised Buddhist so that’s the only religion I knew. Although I was

raised Buddhist, I wasn’t aware of the culture or history. I was pretty much just thrown into the

mix and was labeled. As I grew older to understand, I never found myself invested in the

religion although my mom loves attending the temple every day Sunday, and sometimes even

Wednesdays. Even though I found myself not interested in the religion, I never tried to attend

to get a better understanding of the environment. Although my parents are pretty old fashion, I

think the culture education missed my generation, since I don’t really know anything!

My mom always talks very highly of the temple. She enjoys going because it reduces

her stress, and she loves giving back when she can. She’s very involved in the temple, so she

made food to sell since they were trying to raise money for renovations around the temple. I

found it very inspiring how many hours she dedicates into the temple. Whether that’s praying,

helping them garden, or even donations. It’s inspiring to see the indications of passion and love

my mom has into the religion. After contemplating on what to do for this project, I decided to

give it a shot and go along with her.

When I arrived, I was so surprised that so many people came to the fundraiser to

support and give back! They had so many supporters selling food and buying. They had people

walking around selling raffle tickets and people were definitely buying them! My mom and I

had a stand selling a traditional noodle and soup dish. I was helping her set up bowls, so they

were ready to go. It was quite the cultural shock. I handed a customer a bowl with one hand

and my mom wasn’t very pleased with that. She lectured me on how it wasn’t polite to hand

food to others with one hand but rather do it with both. I found that shocking since typically

when you dine in at a restaurant the server would just hand you your plate with one hand! As

the crowds came, I had a moment of reflection that this group of Buddhists here today are so

lucky. They are lucky enough to practice their own religion with freedom. Many religions in

different countries unfortunately aren’t fortunate enough. I can tell by the smile on their faces

that they were so happy to be there to support their religion. They came with love, and

happiness to see the temple strive and become successful and be able to relay the valuable

lessons in life. Fortunately, living in the United States gives them the freedom of religion and

although I may not understand religion, I’m happy others can find peace in their own beliefs. It

was very refreshing to be a part of such a different experience since going to the temple is very

foreign to me. It was very difficult to communicate with the members of the temple since they

spoke Vietnamese whereas English is my first language, there was definitely a language barrier,

but we spoke through our smiles instead.

This course has really opened my eyes to circumstances I wouldn’t think of everyday. It

made me think of the big picture but also the little things in life. I’m very thankful that I’ve

taken this class because it’s been very valuable. This class and assignment really put me outside
of my comfort zone but I’m glad I did it since I was about to educate myself on other topics that

help bring our community together and I will only continue to create positive experiences.

Thank you, professor Simosen.