Dalai Lama to visit Vermont

? His Holiness the Dalai Lama will journey far from home next fall. ? Known as the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama will address students and the public at Middlebury College Oct. 13 in a rare opportunity for local Vermonters across the state. ? The upcoming visit will mark the third time that Middlebury has hosted this global figure, who traveled to the school to attend symposiums concerning topics of religion in 1984 and 1990. ? Having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his work in moving Tibet toward liberation through nonviolent means, he has since gained global notoriety. In addition, he was the first Nobel Laureate to be cited for his environmental concerns. ? The new lecture series will address challenging philosophical and religious topics, including whether spiritual and religious traditions can provide a framework for inspiring action and effectuating change, according to a press release. ? The content of his lectures will draw on the overarching theme of “Cultivating Hope, Wisdom and Compassion,” the press release stated. ? “The problems that face humankind today, and that this generation of students will be called upon to address, will necessitate not only knowledge and technological ingenuity, but also compassion, determination and sacrifice,” Middlebury College President Rob Liebowitz stated in the press release. ? Ellen McKay is an administrative program coordinator in the Chaplain’s Office at Middlebury and was heavily involved in the effort to get the Dalai Lama to the campus. ? The Dalai Lama’s personal peace emissary, the Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, gave lectures on meditation at Middlebury and the school reached out to the Dalai Lama through him, formally inviting him in 2010, McKay said. ?  “I think a lot of people invite him,” she said. “Of course, he’s older. He picks and chooses very carefully his engagements. It was serendipity to have the honor of hosting him.” ? Though many of the details surrounding the Dalai Lama’s visit are confidential and only a “broad outline” of his trip has been planned so far, McKay said that whenever someone of the Dalai Lama’s stature can fit a visit to a college campus into his or her schedule, the opportunity to host the event outweighs any of the pressures of coordinating it. ? “People are obviously very excited about it, from the president on down,” McKay said. “Students talk about camping out for tickets.” ? Sherwood Smith, director of the Center for Cultural Pluralism at UVM, a group striving for multicultural education and focusing on issues of culture and social justice, described the opportunity to hear the Dalai Lama speak as “once-in-a-lifetime”. ? “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to learn about other cultures and get a better understanding of issues in the world,” Smith said. “It’s exciting to have a person of his scale to our area.” ? Though the event is being held in Middlebury, many UVM students were excited by the mere fact that the Dalai Lama would be so close to home, and some are even considering attending. ? “I think it’s awesome and would absolutely consider going,” said Colby Taylor, a sophomore studying human development and family studies. “He would probably choose Vermont over a place like Texas.” ? Though Taylor doesn’t consider herself particularly religious, she thought that she identified more with Buddhism than Christianity. ? “I think Buddhists are pretty cool people, peaceful, minimalist, don’t seem to be judgmental, don’t try to control people’s lives,” Taylor said. ? The Dalai Lama will present a lecture titled “Finding Common Ground: Ethics for a Whole World,” which will be open to the public and will begin at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 13. ?             The event will be held in Nelson Arena and complete information about ticket sales, and about ticket restrictions and prices, will be available by April 30. As updated ticket information becomes available it will be posted on the Middlebury College web site: http://www.middlebury.edu/middlebury_google_custom_search/go/middstart