Campus Prepares for Dalai Lama's Speech


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UC Berkeley is teeming with anticipation as students, staff and community members await Saturday's visit by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan administration's exiled leader.

The 14th Dalai Lama will arrive in San Francisco tomorrow morning and will be escorted to the Greek Theatre by UCPD and U.S. Department of State police at 2 p.m., when the event is set to begin.

"It's a very rare opportunity to get to have the Dalai Lama come to a university campus," said Jacob Dalton, an assistant professor of Tibetan Buddhism on campus. "Of course I'm excited ... he's got a very friendly audience here for the most part."

Students who waited in line to purchase tickets for the event say they are also looking forward to hearing his Holiness speak.

"We waited 17 hours," said junior Shruthi Bhuma. "It's really great seeing everyone line up for such an impressive speaker. I would think the rest of Cal is excited-apparently there hasn't been as famous a speaker since Jimmy Carter."

Because of the political controversy surrounding the Dalai Lama's role in the Tibetan situation, UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya said he has been preparing for tomorrow's protests.

"Obviously, some people are not supportive of His Holiness, and we expect them to be there," he said.

UCPD will be working with the U.S. State Department to provide security for the Dalai Lama, Celaya said.

His Holiness, 73, was identified as the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama when he was two years old. He became the head of the Central Tibetan Administration in 1950, and resisted Chinese military occupation before leaving the country in exile in 1959.

He now says his goals are to continue the traditions of the Tibetan culture and promote values like compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

After he speaks at the Greek Theatre, the Dalai Lama will meet with members of the Tibetan, Mongolian and Himalayan communities at the Berkeley Community Theater at Berkeley High School, said Kunjo Tashi, board member of The Tibetan Association of Northern California, which organized the event.

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, a vocal supporter of the Dalai Lama, said Berkeley has supported the Tibetan people in their demands for human rights with an annual resolution since 1996.

"(This is) a beautiful opportunity for the Dalai Lama to speak at the university and to also speak with the growing Tibetan community," he said.

Berkeley community member Tseten Khangsar, who left Tibet when she was eight years old and now owns Little Tibet on University Avenue, said she was inspired to open her shop after hearing the Dalai Lama speak at an event.

"He is like a father," she said. "When he gives us a talk, he always said don't forget you have to follow non-violence, be kind, have a wonderful heart, which is most important whether you have a country or not."


Contact Elizabeth Chang and Carol Yur at [email protected]

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