April 22 will bring a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as the stage is set for His Holiness’s, the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to Colgate. The political and spiritual leader of Tibet will be on campus to spend two days giving lectures on topics including science and religion, interfaith issues and a multitude of other themes. Barred of any last-minute hold-ups, the visit is set to proceed as scheduled and the Colgate community can look forward to this momentous day.
As part of Colgate’s Global Leaders lecture series, His Holiness’s visit was funded by the Colgate Parents’ and Grandparents’ fund, as well as through the efforts of Robert H. N. Ho ’56. Ho has long had a personal connection with the Dalai Lama that aided in making this rare visit possible.
“The Dalai Lama does not visit places where there aren’t Tibetan refugee communities or some extraneous [sic] reason,” senior and head of the Colgate Buddhist Association Julia Gooding said. “It is an extremely, extremely fortuitous event.”
A leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama was exiled to India after China’s invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. From there he set up an exiled Tibetan government with the thousands of Tibetans who followed him. His main objective is the preservation of his people’s culture and education; something he feels is being destroyed by China’s “cultural genocide,” as quoted from a recent CNN.com article.
“I hope that Colgate students will take, if they haven’t already, the opportunity to learn more about the situation in Tibet,” Gooding said.
Indeed the question of Tibet’s autonomy has been showing up in the news recently; some feel that China should give sovereignty to Tibet. Protesting and interruption of the Olympic torch procession through both London and Paris earlier this week are a testament to those feelings of injustices done by China, which is to host the 2008 summer Olympics.
With such an important world figure coming to Colgate, it is only expected that security will be revved up for the event. Rumors had arisen that there were hold ups with His Holiness’ visit due to security reasons, but such claims were dismissed by Director of the Parents’ Fund and Grandparents’ Fund Mari Assaid.
“There are no problems with his leaving India […] as far as we can tell at this point in time, we don’t foresee any problems,” Assaid said while with the DalaiLama’s representative.
Assaid revealed the magnitude of security that was assigned to His Holiness.
“The State Department … will bring in their bomb dogs to secure all the buildings [before His Holiness’s arrival],” Assaid said. “We will have metal detectors for [the] Sanford Field House with screening for the other facilities that he will enter.He will be guarded by State Department, State Police, Local police and campus security 24/7.”
Thus as everything proceeds as planned, the Colgate Community excitedly awaits the visit of such a prominent man.
“He’s accomplished so much and regardless of your religion, your background, whatever, he’s a person we all have so much to learn from,” Gooding said of the Dalai Lama, “so I just hope that people will go to this lecture open-minded and really appreciate this opportunity.”