MY FIRST SUNDAY IN NEW YORK WAS SPENT RATHER WELL FOR MY CONSCIENCE as I helped out in a bone marrow drive at Flushing. There’s this girl named Michelle, an American Chinese, who was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent chemotherapy. Unfortunately, her disease relapsed and they could not find a suitable donor through all registries (including Tzu Chi’s). So, Michelle’s friends and family did a lot of drives all across the States to find someone that can save her life.
She was a volunteer at Tzu Chi once, and so the volunteers at California helped out a lot at the drives. One of her friend in New York was so helpful he contacted the Tzu Chi people of New York to start a drive here at Asian-packed Flushing. As a result, I went to help out and was really impressed with the effort that Michelle’s friends had done. The so called Project Michelle registered 10000 possible donors, and the numbers are still increasing. But the sad thing is, there still isn’t a donor yet for her, but with her story, she probably helped a lot of other patients like her.
The one thing I find frustrating is, I do not know which language to use to initiate the conversation and to pass the message. Although many are Chinese, lots of the elder ones do not understand English, and the youngsters do not understand Chinese; and there are Cantonese speaking ones, and also Koreans who looks like Chinese. But eventually I learned to switch language fast and to do a little eavesdropping so that I know what they use when they talk. Nancy, a Tzu Ching from Dominican Republic who came to New York for study and work; and Candy, a Canadian Tzu Ching who works here, and me are the ones responsible to pass out the flyers and invite people for a quick registration and leave saliva samples for DNA testing. We had 80 something potentials signing up, and they said this is a really good result as the previous drive only had 2.
It does feel great doing something nice for someone. There’s something else I noticed, once inside the Flushing Mall, you’ll never know that you’re in the States. Everything is in Chinese, and everyone speaks Chinese, everyone IS Chinese. And with all the Tzu Chi people around me, I felt a moment of deja vu, it does make me feel as if I’m in Taiwan.