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Shimhyangsa Templestay for Children of Multicultural Families
The summer heat is subsiding, and the schools are about to begin again. Summer vacation is all but over. There was one last summer event for some special children at a temple. Children from multicultural backgrounds attended a two-day templestay at Shimhyangsa Temple in Naju City . Lee Eunah reports.
There are more than 400 multicultural families living in Naju City . Of the 22 cities of South Jolla Province , Naju ranks fourth in the number of migrant worker population. The Association of the Application and Sharing of Wisdom (지혜나눔실천회) and Shimhyangsa Temple jointly held a templestay for children of multicultural and farmer families on August 21~22. As if to signal the end of summer, in this lonely mountain temple, the sound of cicadas fill the air, and the sound of children ring out from one of the temple buildings. They begin this templestay with a promise to respect each other and work together.
Int – Choi Ilkwang, the Operations Manager for Association of the Application and Sharing of Wisdom (지혜나눔실천회).
“We live in a multicultural society. Now children from multicultural and farming families have a chance to experience a traditional temple.”
The brightness and purity of children can be seen in their uncontainable joy of riding a simple swing. Their delight is without restraint despite being in a so-called holy temple. The children get to the know a monk, experience nature, and learn about Buddha and the temple to become more familiar with Buddhism. Even during lunch, the children learn the Buddhist eating principle of taking only what one intends to eat. The children are taught the value of life and the meaning of death. They pay their respects to the former president who has just passed away.
Int- Ven. Wonkwang, the Abbot of Shimhyangsa Temple
“This is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about Buddhism. This is the first step. I hope there will be more such events in the future.”
The most popular part of the templestay is the hands-on experience. How is soap made that we use everyday? The children are engrossed in the idea that they will make soap that they will actually use. They also draw earnestly like a real artist to make a personalized t-shirt.
Int- Na Sangjae, Yeongsan Elementary School
“I came to the temple, made soap, and listened to the monk. It’s been very fun.”
The children also make patbingsu, an ice treat with milk and red beans. They learn to get along with each other, just like all the ingredients blend to make a delicious patbingsu.
What makes religion lasting is the ability to adapt to the changing times. The times and people are always changing. Perhaps, one of the roles of religion is to know and accommodate the people of the changing times.