TBSA Leads the Youth
By Kevin Kyauk

Kevin Kyauk is an 18-year-old senior student at South San Francisco High School. He was born in California from Chinese-Burmese parents. In addition to English, Kevin can also speak Burmese and some Spanish and Mandarin. He was one of the Aye-Thet scholarship recipients in 1997-98. He lives with his parents and younger brother in South San Francisco. He plans to continue his studies in software engineering.

Time flies in a matter of a snap of one's fingers. It seems like my younger days were just not long ago.  My uncle, then one of TBSA board of directors, took me to the monastery for meetings and festivals with the purpose of attending me and as well as getting assistance from me whenever needed and perhaps keeping me away from making problems at home. I was then 13 years old. As a young person going to the monastery was fun. I met a lot of new people, learned about Myanmar Buddhist culture and most importantly got to eat all the foods while offering a helping hand.

Thinking about the time I spent there, I have to say that I grew up around TBSA and Dhammananda Vihara. This year, people of TBSA celebrate its 20 th anniversary. Established in 1980 at a rented place in San Francisco with a little fund and very few members, TBSA has come across many changes and improvements. From San Francisco, Dhammananda Vihara was relocated to Daly City and finally to the current location, a 6-acre land, in Half Moon Bay in 1996. At this new site, TBSA is now planning to build a new monastery. This mile-stone reflects the continued success of this organization. Everybody in the Myanmar community should thank TBSA staff members who have put all their times and efforts to make this possible. This is a good example for the new generation Myanmar-American youths who come to the festivities and visit the monastery. I have to say that this new millennium is bound for Dhammananda Vihara. The staffs have done their best, putting in tremendous amount of time and dedication to their full extent to provide the best facilities to serve the monks, the patrons and the community.

As a minor I volunteered in a group which helped TBSA with different variety of tasks. I gave up my time playing video games, or sitting around without doing anything, to give help at the monastery. I literally spent every Sunday for about 3 months helping at the monastery along with other young volunteers. We did so much work, from cleaning up the weeds to painting the building, from renovating the assembly hall to fixing the main entrance. We converted the horse barn to the
present meditation hall, which now is used for dhamma talks, retreats and other religious functions. At first my intention was to fulfill the community service hours required by my school curriculum and to get a good grade. However, through the years, I realized that when I was there I was putting in much whole-hearted effort without thinking about getting good grade for my school.

I felt happy to get good merits and felt assured that this would benefit me in the future. I became aware that what I did was not just helping the monastery but also to the community as a whole, and we as dhamma patrons need to love and care to each other to become a united community.

TBSA has set a good binding of the youths and has shown what our religion is like and how important it is to be part of our lives. They have shown us why and how community should work together hand in hand. They are doing their best to serve the community. All the youths should follow their leadership. I would like to suggest to all Myanmar youths to wake up and represent your religion and community. Take some time and learn to understand more about it and apply Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives. We are the future, and the youths in the community must cherish, unite, participate and lead through the Millennium to come.