Cultural Competency and Compassion Youth Fellows Meet-Up and Public Dalai Lama Talk

DalaiLamaOn Saturday, June 25th, the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice along with mentors and facilitators from the Peace Learning Center met with our DTC Youth Fellows and a few parents at the Christian Theological Seminary

DTC Youth Fellows Coordinator, Nirupama Hayden (Niru), began the Meetup by first summarizing  major points on South African customs and etiquette that the Youth Fellows would need to know.  She then played a short documentary  which introduced the group to the economic, cultural, and political situation in South Africa. Furthermore, the film highlighted the importance of awareness, compassion, and concern for the well-being of all humanity. Following the film, Niru began her discussion of important cultural differences, notes, and guidelines. She joked that following these guidelines would prevent the Fellows from being the “ugly American” that stuck out while traveling. Niru’s presentation covered a plethora of topics, including what to pack, communication with family back home, history, diversity, and characteristics of South Africa, appropriate language and terminology, greeting differences and protocol, and dining etiquette. Discussion and clarifications were interspersed throughout the presentation, and the group was given more tools and resources to aid in travel preparation as we anticipate this exciting educational tour to South Africa!  

After the informative workshop, the Meetup moved to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum for the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s public talk. The event began with performances of drumming, singing, and dancing by various cultural and religious traditions. After an introduction by Representative Susan Brooks, the Dalai Lama began his talk which was followed by an extensive Question and Answer session.

DalaiLama2The Dalai Lama’s talk focused on the necessity of compassion, inner peace with ourselves, and a the need for oneness of sentient human beings. In order to promote peace and nonviolence, we must see all people as our brothers and sisters. He related his philosophies to relevant topics including terrorism, the tragedy in Orlando, and promoting peace in times of war and conflict.

The Dalai Lama discussed the importance of cultivating inner peace within our own hearts. He shared that we cannot truly promote compassion and kindness towards others if we as individuals lack conviction of the value of compassion and hold onto negative emotions such as fear, anger, and disrespect. When we work towards inner peace, we come into wholeheartedness based on a sustainable, firm ground which can then be spread to our friends and family and beyond. He encouraged religious harmony, the respect of other faith traditions and-believers as he reminded us all that most faiths are all based on the same principles of compassion and kindness. It is scientifically proven, he said, that human nature is more inclined towards compassion which is a key factor in healthy development. In today’s challenging times, we must educate our youth on these principles for the future of the next generations. It is only through the education of our youth that we can hope to create a better future. He also said that prayer, no matter what faith tradition, must be accompanied by action. We must bring peace ourselves- it was humans who created war, conflict, and violence- we must bring the change to end it. The Dalai Lama spoke with patience and certainty, punctuated by laughter. Our Youth Fellows obtained important lessons about humanity, peace, and being active members of our community to bring about change. One Fellow said, “I didn’t know who he was before this event, but after I can see why he is admired by many (including me now) and I’m grateful I had the opportunity.” We look forward to seeing how the Dalai Lama’s talk inspires and impacts them through the course of the social justice project building.

If you are interested in learning more about the Dalai Lama, click here to join us at a New View Film Series presenting 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama on July 14th.

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