While Brandon was in college, he became concerned about the relationship between the U.S. and China. But he was just a student, what could he do?
After he was introduced to Buddhism, he began to think that he could do something. After graduation, he went to China to teach English and try to make friends with the Chinese people.
He taught 10th and 11th graders. Along with their other studies, Brandon taught his students American songs and they taught him Chinese songs and Chinese poker.
He became a kind of celebrity. There were television interviews and he even did some concerts and appeared on a Chinese equivalent of the "Dating Game".
Over a holiday weekend, he and another American took a train tour of China. While they were visiting the shrine of a Martyr of the Revolution, some Chinese people started pointing their fingers at them and screaming. It took him a while to understand what they were saying but they finally figured out that the U.S. had just bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
Everywhere they went people screamed at them. Brandon thought to himself: "It's not my fault. No one asked me if I thought it was a good idea to bomb Belgrade." But then he thought: "In a democracy, everyone must take responsibility for their government, so in a way I am responsible."
It took them 15 long hours to get back to the school. When they arrived, the principle told them that they should stay at there and not go out and that they should not mention the bombing in their classes because he did not want the students to be polarized around this issue.
Brandon called a friend and fellow member at the U.S. Embassy. The embassy was under siege. His friend suggested that he sit tight and chant lots of Daimoku. Brandon had little choice but to follow his friend's advice. As he chanted, his desire to say something to his students increased.
Brandon wanted to take responsibility, but he had to follow the instructions of his principle. To express what was in his heart, he taught his students "Blowin' in the Wind."
In China, there are competitions for speaking English — like a spelling bee. Brandon was mentoring a young woman for an upcoming competition.
When he arrived at the auditorium where the English competition was to take place, there was a big argument over whether they should even have the competition, because of the recent bombing. Some of those present had become opposed to learning English because of what happened.
They challenged everyone there to defend the learning of English. No one would say anything in defense of learning English. Brandon was the only non-Chinese person there.
He stepped up to the podium, apologized for the bombing, and said, "If I hadn't learned Chinese, I would be a lesser person for it. Coming to China and meeting all of you has helped me grow as a human being and it has also expanded my life. Because I learned Chinese, I was able to meet many wonderful Chinese people and form lasting friendships. Learning English can do the same for you. You can expand your world and your possibilities."
Everyone cheered his speech.
The English competition continued.
Brandon's dreams of improving relations with China were realized.
was given at an Introductory Meeting 1/21/2001 in Washington D.C.]