Greetings Master! Greetings fellow practitioners!
I am a practitioner and a PhD student at Columbia University. I have a lot of personal cultivation experiences in terms of balancing my school work, research, cultivation, and truth-clarification, but I would like to focus on sharing my experiences in clarifying the truth at Columbia University, especially facing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) special agents who tried to interfere with our activities.
I started at Columbia University in January 2005. One veteran practitioner has, for many years, diligently held Falun Gong introductory workshops every week. In addition to introducing Falun Gong to students, he also holds truth-clarification activities and tries to plan at least one major truth-clarification event on campus every semester.
Soon after I joined, we started to distribute the English Epoch Times newspaper on campus at various locations. We distribute around 200-300 papers at different buildings around campus on the day of publication.
In early 2005, the Columbia Political Review, a magazine published by the university, carried an article about Yahoo kowtowing to the CCP. The article also included two long paragraphs about the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party and its impact in China. It was obvious that the student reporter had read our articles about the Nine Commentaries and done some research on his own. We knew that Master was encouraging us.
The same semester, an international conference was held on campus on China's economic development. Several businessmen from mainland China attended this conference. During this time, we held a large-scale anti-torture exhibit on the main campus. Many students learned the facts about the persecution of Falun Gong, and the college newspaper published a front-page photo about our activities and our truth-clarification efforts.
Chinese and Western leaders often visit Columbia, so we meet them and clarify the truth face to face. For example, in early 2006, a forum was held about freedom in Chinese media. Among the panelists was the managing editor and anchor for Hong Kong's Phoenix TV and the executive dean of the School of Journalism & Communication at Tsinghua University. During the Q&A session, we managed to raise questions about the true state of freedom of speech and the media in China, the Epoch Times, and the Nine Commentaries. During the informal dinner afterwards, I managed to talk to both of these leaders in person and gave them copies of the Nine Commentaries. I told them, "It will be hard for you to get a copy of this book after you go back to mainland China. I hope you get a chance to read this book." One of them told me that actually, he had already seen this book and that it was everywhere in China. I convinced him to take the book and read it again.
In late 2006, we started to approach several student groups and organizations on campus to tell them about the Chinese New Year Gala. At one of these meetings with a large student club, we were interrupted by a Chinese student. At the time, we thought that she didn't know the facts about Falun Gong, but now we know that the CCP has close ties with the Chinese student organizations and was trying to interfere with our activities on campus.
In early 2007, we held an organ harvesting forum on campus, which Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Secretary of State of the Government of Canada for the Asia Pacific region David Kilgour attended. We planned and worked hard for the event and contacted all the student groups on campus. Several of the student group leaders replied to us, saying they supported us and wished our activities all the best. Overall, we worked closely with practitioners from across New York and New Jersey to help promote this event.
On the day of the event, something unexpected happened. The CSSA (Chinese Students and Scholars Association) leaders sent out an e-mail to their club that was filled with CCP propaganda and threatened to disrupt our forum by force if necessary. We were alerted to this early enough, and informed public safety officials who confiscated the banners the CSSA students had brought and told them to be peaceful. When the CSSA students, led by their president, started to interrupt the forum, the public safety officials sent them out. The school newspaper ran a front-page article the next day about the organ harvesting forum and the disruption by the CSSA students.
After the incident, we discussed how to handle it. We started going to the administrators in almost all the schools, and filed several complaints against the CSSA leaders who had organized the disruption. At that time, our goal was not really to punish them; we mainly wanted to clarify the truth to the school administrators, whom we had never had a chance to approach directly before. This incident gave us the perfect opportunity to meet with the high-level administrators at almost all the major schools on campus and clarify the truth about Falun Gong to them.
Shortly after the disruption, the CSSA started posting CCP propaganda against Falun Gong on its public website. These propaganda items were posted mostly in Chinese, not in English. We continued to approach school administrators, clarifying the truth and explaining why the CSSA behavior was intolerable and reflected poorly on the school.
Unfortunately, we relied too much on the administrators. Instead of clarifying the truth to try to save them, we got enmeshed in the situation and relied on them to take action to take down the bad material. As Master said in "Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Philadelphia, U.S.A.":
"That kind of thinking isn't wrong in the ordinary society, but it's not right for a cultivator. With a Dafa like this, how could so many magnificent future Gods, magnificent Dafa disciples, who've been forged through Dafa cultivation put their hope in some ordinary person?"
What manifested on the surface was that the administrators, who had been initially very supportive of us, turned their backs to us. They expressed that they were not able to do anything since the CSSA material was hosted on an external website and they could not control it. Our understanding at that time was that perhaps because the CCP had invested a lot of money in Columbia University directly and indirectly, and put pressure on the school administrators, they refused to help us. Also, at that time, only the few practitioners at Columbia University were involved in this effort, and the practitioners in the greater New York area were not aware of the situation.
In March 2007, NTDTV's International Dance Competition was held at New York University. The CSSA at NYU tried to disrupt the event in a manner similar to that at Columbia University, slandering Falun Gong and NTDTV on its website and circulating a petition to stop the dance competition. The CSSA at Columbia University followed along, copying verbatim NYU CSSA's propaganda.
At this point, it became clear to the greater body of practitioners that the CSSA in both schools were actually acting as agents for the CCP and the Chinese Consulate. The CCP was actually using the organizations to extend its persecution of Falun Gong overseas.
After realizing this fact, practitioners across New York mobilized quickly. Flyers were made and distributed at New York University clarifying the truth about the CSSA and how it was acting as an agent for the CCP in its attempts to persecute Falun Gong overseas. Very quickly, many students in NYU learned the truth. One practitioner got a chance to talk directly to the university president, who listened attentively. After in-depth truth-clarification, NTDTV was finally able to hold the dance competition at NYU. In fact, several university officials who originally were not interested came to watch the competition and congratulated NTDTV for hosting such a wonderful cultural event.
Meanwhile, at Columbia University, the CSSA continued to post slanderous information on their website. Practitioners at Columbia cooperated with practitioners in New York City to clarify the truth on campus, just as Master had said in his comments on a practitioner's article titled "Expose the Evil Happening Locally to the Local People" on Clearwisdom:
"Exposing the wicked policemen and bad persons and publicizing their evil deeds is extremely effective at shocking and restraining those irrational, wicked people. At the same time, by clarifying the facts to the people on a local level it most directly exposes, and generates public awareness of, the wicked persecution. It is also a great way to save the people who have been poisoned and deceived by the lies."
In response to our first wave of truth-clarification, the CUCSSA president put up another notice on their website, which was a little more defensive but still contained very strong words slandering Falun Gong. We were a little worried since our initial complaints with the school administrators were not successful, and we were not sure how to proceed.
At this time, a few practitioners who had done TV reporting called me and asked if they could interview the CUCSSA president directly about his actions. I took them to the CSSA president's lab with the simple idea of talking to him directly about the CCP's involvement and why he was posting all the vicious information about Falun Gong.
The CUCSSA president was shocked when we went to his office to directly ask him questions. In response to the questions, he argued with us and shouted at us for 10 minutes, and then he called in public safety officials. But after clarifying the issue, the public safety officials allowed the film crew to leave with their video of the interview.
However, I had a little apprehension and fear over the whole event and wondered if the CUCSSA would react and target me. That evening, my loopholes were taken advantage of by the old forces. The CUCSSA president posted a public notice and e-mailed the entire CUCSSA member list saying that we had barged into his office and broken some equipment. He also filed a complaint with the school.
I was confused and asked some fellow practitioners for help. I was looking for support, and some practitioners helped me, but several other practitioners told me that it was my loopholes and mistakes that had caused this tribulation. I felt even worse, and I couldn't look inside or exhibit tolerance. I shouted back at one of the practitioners, saying that I could take the persecution from CUCSSA, but not from my own fellow practitioners! For the next couple of months, I fell into a very bad state where I could not study the Fa well, and my negative thoughts and resentment became worse. For a few months, I stopped working with my fellow practitioners on campus and doing any direct truth-clarification at the university, except for meeting with school administrators to resolve the incident.
The incident did actually allow us to meet with several higher level officials of the administration, whom we had not been able to meet personally before, but because of my lack of righteous thoughts, I think the effect was not as good as it could have been. The result was that the school found that no equipment had been broken and cleared me of the charges, but I was still given a warning and told not to confront the CSSA leaders again.
At this time, practitioners from around the New York area and even around the world mobilized together to expose the CSSA issue. Practitioners wrote in and faxed letters to school administrators, local VIPs, CSSA leaders and others, clarifying the truth. In addition, several practitioners in New York City tirelessly came to the school to hand out special flyers about the CCP special agents almost every day for 6 weeks during the time when the Fall semester started. I would like to use this opportunity to thank them for their tireless hard work in clarifying the truth.
On one weekend shortly after the Fall semester started, CUCSSA organized a BBQ party for new CUCSSA students. Several Western practitioners went to the event and handed out truth-clarification materials directly to the Chinese students and the CUCSSA leaders. That same week, one school Dean informed us that he had met with the CUCSSA board members at his school and had seriously warned them that the actions against the Falun Dafa Club were not welcome in the United States, and they would meet severe punishment if they continued to take such action.
Facing this massive amount of truth-clarification, the Columbia University CSSA leaders started to back down. First, their special sections on the website that were devoted to news items slandering Falun Gong started being filled up with other general news items.
At both NYU and Columbia University, very few students, faculty and administrators had taken much interest in Falun Gong, but after the incidents with the CSSA, it seemed that almost everyone on both campuses started to understand the truth about Falun Gong, the evil nature of the CCP, and the Chinese Consulate's mobilization of special agents to export its persecution overseas.
In short, things over those several months happened exactly as Master said in "Fa Teaching at the U.S. Capital" in 2007:
"So whether it is vilifying us or doing bad things, it's the same as telling the whole world to look at its wickedness while simultaneously promoting Falun Gong for us and expanding the influence of Falun Gong on the thinking of people everywhere."
In early September 2007, the old Columbia University CSSA website was completely shuttered and a new CUCSSA website was put up which had no slanderous material. On the surface, the reason was that the CUCSSA had a yearly election and replaced its board members, but we know that it was practitioners' tireless efforts in clarifying the truth, directly and face-to-face, that completely turned the situation around.
It was exactly like Master said in "Fa Teaching at the U.S. Capital" in 2007:
"The vast majority made it through, helped the immense tide of Fa-rectification to turn the whole situation around, and in the end helped cause those mouthpieces that are completely controlled by the evil Party to no longer dare vilify us around the world. They no longer dare to fabricate things because they know that the Dafa disciples they face are capable of exposing them. As soon as the evil Party creates more lies or does something bad, Dafa disciples expose it and set things straight around the world, allowing the whole world to see the evil for what it is and helping more people know about it."
There are several other efforts that we are still continuing on campus to clarify the truth and assist with Fa-rectification. For instance, while promoting the Divine Performing Arts Spectacular this year, we ran ads in the college newspaper using our own money as well as ad exchanges for tickets. The results were very good, as many Columbia University students and faculty came to the Spectacular and gave positive and supportive comments.
We also continue to have events on campus every semester to clarify the truth, and put up posters on bulletin boards. For instance, very recently, we put up large posters about NTDTV's entrance to cable TV in New York City. We still encountered some behind-the-scenes interference from some CUCSSA students, but we will continue to clarify the truth.
To be brief, I would like to conclude my experience sharing in clarifying the truth directly at Columbia University in face of interference and pressure from the CSSA and the Chinese Consulates. We still have a lot of shortcomings, need to improve, and work as one body. We hope we can do better.
Thank you, Master! Thank you, fellow practitioners!
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