Following the Dalai Lama’s public speech at the University on Oct. 28, there will be a private, invitation-only event with him for selected students, faculty and staff.
Around 150 students have been invited by the Office of Religious Life, which is organizing the 90-minute private meeting together withThe Kalmyk Three Jewels Foundation.
Though the Dalai Lama has toured college campuses before, this personal interaction with students is a unique event, Dean of the Office of Religious Life Alison Boden said. Boden is one of the primary facilitators of the event, along with others from different departments. She explained that this was one reason the ORL has made an effort to prepare invitees ahead of time.
The Dalai Lama will speak briefly at the meeting, and three faculty members will respond. Because the event is student-centered, no additional faculty were invited. Boden declined to identify the faculty members, although she said they will be from the humanities and social sciences.
The purpose of the event, Boden said, is to facilitate conversation between the Dalai Lama and students.
“He’s 79 years old, and he wants to talk to young people about service and civic engagement. This is his passion,” Boden said.
Shortly after the students were notified of the event, they were divided up into small groups, each with about 10 students. The groups will meet twice before the speech and several times afterward.
The ORL was looking for a commitment to service in the student-attendees, Boden explained. Students were nominated by local religious leaders on the basis of active participation and commitment to public service, she explained.
“A lot of students do that through their athletic team, through their residential college, through their religious group. We really wanted to get a broad spectrum of University students with commitments all over the place,” Boden said.
Fifteen or so upperclassmen were selected to facilitate each small group meeting around the question of service. Amantia Muhedini ’15, one of these facilitators, said these upperclassmen were asked to facilitate after it was confirmed they would already be attending the event.
Muhedini said the ORL was looking for students with a track record in leadership.
“The ORL was looking for students they knew or that had been recommended by other administrators, that had been involved in service, that were thoughtful and able to do this role,” Muhedini said.
Muhedini is a Residential College Adviser, involved with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement and helped to co-organize the Poverty and Peacemaking conference last December. All of these activities, she said, were areas from which students were drawn.
One invited student, Yasin Hegazy ’15, said the invited students have been discussing what they want to see from the event and the questions they have for the Dalai Lama. One question, he said, was if a person had to be selfless to serve.
Hegazy also explained the long-term goal of having students be so involved in the event.
“The point is to connect people who are engaged in service on campus with this event to get actual, practical answers from the Dalai Lama that will result in programming and opportunities," he said.
Hegazy noted there might be some negative feeling among the uninvited student body, particularly for those who had tickets to the lecture. He also said that most participants in the event would be upperclassmen because upperclassmen have had more opportunities to demonstrate a commitment to leadership on campus.
“I can see why there is a limit, because obviously there would be so many people who would want to talk to him,” Christopher Zhang ’18 said. “I think, though, that there should be some more objective way to determine who gets to see him.” Zhang will be attending the public lecture but was not invited to the event.
The private meeting will also be taped and put on a public university website.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the private event as a dinner.The 'Prince' regrets the error.