Vietnamese Zen Monastery filled with warmth and love in Sri Lanka

WVR -Located in the Ambakote region, about 20 km from the ancient city of Kandy, Truc Lam Zen Monastery, the first Vietnamese Pagoda in Sri Lanka, is always warm with love, filled with the voices and laughter of students from Vietnamese classes.
Vietnamese Zen Monastery filled with warmth and love in Sri Lanka
Vietnamese Zen Monastery filled with warmth and love in Sri Lanka: Vietnamese class for the Vietnamese community and Sri Lankan local people. (Photo: Courtersy)

Master Phap Quang, who has lived and studied in Sri Lanka for many years, has built Truc Lam Zen Monastery since 2020.

With a kind heart and desire to bring joy to everyone, Master Phap Quang has initiated and made many contributions to volunteer work along with activities to show good cultural values ​​as well as kindness of Vietnamese people in foreign countries.

A place to share love

Although inaugurated at the time when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and facing mounting difficulties, Truc Lam Zen Monastery has contributed to making good things and bridging people with compassionate hearts, when the local people and the Vietnamese community in Sri Lanka were in need of both material and spiritual support.

Along with rice distribution activities to relieve the hunger, on full moon days of every month, Monks often coordinate with sponsors to donate about 200 meals to homeless people living at bus and train stations or in the local.

In particular, during the annual Vu Lan (Ullambana) Festival of filial piety, Truc Lam Zen Monastery creates blessings in the Buddhist land of Sri Lanka by giving gifts including rice and dry food to people being in difficult circumstances.

During the dry season, Ambakote region often experiences drought and people are always worried about having enough clean water. Last June, the first water well was built by Truc Lam Zen Monastery's Monks in coordination with a charity group in a newly established village in Ambakote, helping more than 60 households to have clean water for daily use.

After a few months, a second well was built at Ambakote. This well was pumped into a tank constructed by Truc Lam Zen Monastery so that people around the village can use during a drought.

Along with paying attention to material life, the Monks spend time opening meditation retreats on Sundays to create trust, optimism and happiness for local people.

Teaching Vietnamese language and sharing culture

In addition to volunteer work, the Monks at Truc Lam Zen Monastery have successfully connected and designed a Vietnamese language teaching program for the Vietnamese community and local people.

The class has been held from June 2022 with the purpose of sharing the beauty of traditional Vietnamese culture and helping Vietnamese expatriates whose children have lost their command of Vietnamese or wish to learn more Vietnamese.

Not only does it create a Vietnamese learning channel for those who need to use the Vietnamese language, the class also becomes a bridge for compassionate hearts who want to contribute to making good things in life.

Monk Phap Bao, a teacher at Truc Lam Zen Monastery, said Vietnamese classes are conducted through two channels: teaching via Zoom application (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the week) and teaching in the class at the Zen Hall (from Monday to Friday).

The class is divided into two levels; each level is about three months, one for those new to Vietnamese (basic course) and another for students who have passed the basic course exam.

Regarding teaching methods, Monks teach students to phonetics and pronunciation, basic grammatical structures, expand vocabulary and focus mainly on listening and speaking skills.

Monks also organize practical activities and games to enhance communication skills and apply Vietnamese in daily life; Introducing Vietnamese culture, history and cuisine; teaching through songs on love to homeland, solidarity, love of family, Vietnam’s National Anthem, songs such as "As having Uncle Ho on a happy day of great victory", "My Grandma", "Go to school", etc.

Through the method of practicing on combining tradition and modernity, students write exercises and practice conversations with each other.

In addition, Truc Lam Zen Monastery also creates conditions for students to have the opportunity to meet and interact with the Vietnamese community living and working in the local and Vietnamese pilgrimage groups visiting Sri Lanka. Students with outstanding learning achievements or having difficult circumstances are also awarded scholarships and given study materials.

Monk Phap Bao shared: "Currently, we still do not have official Vietnamese teaching documents for foreigners as well as teaching experience. The curriculum is still based on understanding the people and country here and referencing the Internet to draft it in the most appropriate way."

On the other hand, there are still certain dificulties concerning living conditions in the area such as weak internet connections, rudimentary learning tools, limited lighting due to frequent power outages and fuel shortages, inadequate teaching facilities for increasing number of students.

However, after many years of living and studying in Sri Lanka, the teachers' method of communication is very easy to understand. Teachers can also communicate in the local language and in English, a very convenient tool in teaching a combination of languages.

The special thing is that this free class always brings a friendly and sociable environment for students. With that open heart, the Monks are always loved and supported by the people in all activities.

When Sri Lankan children come to Truc Lam Zen Monastery to study, they are given Vietnamese names (for boys, the middle name is Lam, for girls, the middle name is Truc).

On the occasion of Vietnam's National Day, Sri Lankan girls also wear Vietnamese Ao dai and perform Conical hat dance. Despite the pressure in studying, the local children are very eager to learn, diligently go to the temple to meditate and maintain Vietnamese classes.

Vietnamese Zen Monastery filled with warmth and love in Sri Lanka
Vietnamese Zen Monastery filled with warmth and love in Sri Lanka: Volunteer activities of Monks at Truc Lam Zen Monastery. (Photo: Courtesy)

Strengthen the relationship between the two countries

Thanks to the support of local people and the students' passion for learning that has motivated the meaningful activities of Vietnamese Monks at Truc Lam Zen Monastery.

Since the beginning of construction and coming into operation until now, although still facing many difficulties in terms of facilities, the Monks have always been interested in teaching the Dharma and carrying out volunteer activities to help the poor in Sri Lanka.

Noting the importance of preserving native language abroad, the Monks hope that the work of teaching Vietnamese in Sri Lanka will be developed and spread further, creating more good values for life.

In addition to promoting Vietnamese language teaching, Truc Lam Zen Monastery also expands other activities such as teaching English and computers, creating a common home for the elderly and disadvantaged children.

To further strengthen the connection between the people of Sri Lanka and Vietnam, Master Phap Quang and the co-founders of the Social and Cultural Foundation will have more charitable, social, tourism and educational activities.

Monk Phap Bao emphasized: "Good deeds always meet the support and cooperation from good hearts. We are fortunate to receive a lot of companionship from the Vietnamese community at home and abroad and respect from the Sri Lanka local people.

With the spirit of Vietnamese people wishing to bring the language and good values ​​of Vietnamese culture to share with the international community, we continue to maintain promotional activities, helping the international community understand more deeply. about Vietnamese culture".

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